Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 12:24 UK
Uncovering history of a new town
Stone structure near Fairwater, Cwmbran

The historical secrets of Cwmbran could be unlocked with the help of a £48,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money will be spent researching sites of archaeological interest in the Thornhill and Greenmeadow areas, one of which dates back more than 3,500 years.

The project, part funded by the Cwmbran Regeneration Partnership and Torfaen council, will also celebrate the medieval pilgrim heritage of the area.

Volunteers will be invited to help out on the project over the next 12 months.

Cwmbran is mainly known for the new town created in the 1950s, but the area has been inhabited since Neolithic times. The Iron Age Silures tribe later held sway before being subdued by the Romans.

Archaeologists will work with local residents to investigate several sites whose precise origins remain obscure.

Research co-ordinator Richard Davies said: "These unrecorded sites are a real mystery. I have shown them to several archaeologists and we are all still scratching our heads."

Medieval pilgrim route above Thornhill
A medieval pilgrim route passed from Llantarnam Abbey to Risca

The medieval pilgrim heritage of the area as part of the Cistercian Way will also be marked by an arts project to commemorate St Derfel while a heritage walks leaflet will also be produced.

The Ancient Cwmbran and the Cistercians Partnership has been created to oversee development and implementation of the project.

It brings together representatives of the Cwmbran Historical Society, Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust, University of Wales Newport, Torfaen Museum Trust, Communities First Thornhill, the Co-Star Partnership and Torfaen council.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided the majority of the £72,500 budget, which includes £14,500 from Torfaen council and £10,000 from the Cwmbran Regeneration Partnership.

Llanderfel Grange Chapel, Cwmbran
The remains of Llanderfel Grange Chapel overlook the new town

Bob Wellington, leader of Torfaen council and chair of the partnership, said: "This is an exciting project for Cwmbran and Torfaen which has been initiated through a partnership between the council, the local community and Cwmbran Historical Society.

"I hope the project will help foster a greater sense of awareness and appreciation of the area's ancient past."

Jennifer Stewart, head of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales, said: "People love learning about their local heritage and archaeology is a great way to unearth hidden histories.

"This is a fantastic project which will bring people, young and old, together to try their hand at something new and gain a deeper understanding of where they live."

An information day is being held at Greenmeadow Community Farm on 19 September for local residents who want to become involved in the project as volunteers - you can also phone 01633 648072.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Ancient Cwmbran
03 Sep 09 |  History
Ancient Cwmbran: Richard Davies
03 Sep 09 |  History
Celebration of Torfaen's heritage
02 Mar 09 |  History
Architects flock to see Cwmbran
05 Mar 09 |  History

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