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The Skomer Island Project

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Skomer: famed for its wildlife and for the survival of its ancient field systems

Skomer: famed for its wildlife and for the survival of its ancient field systems

AT THE BEGINNING of this month, the Skomer Island Project team returned to Skomer to undertake the latest phase of archaeological research on the Island.

The Herald contacted the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales (RCAHMW) who kindly provided us with an update and photographs of their latest visit to Skomer.

Skomer Island is a highly protected landscape famous for its puffins and other breeding seabirds, but it is also home to some of the best preserved prehistoric field systems and settlements anywhere in Britain.

The Royal Commission began the Skomer Island Project in 2011, together with colleagues from the University of Sheffield and Cardiff University, to find out more about the prehistoric communities who lived once and farmed here.

New airborne laser scanning has allowed detailed mapping of every field and round house while fieldwork has demonstrated that settlement on the island extends back some 5000 years.

This year archaeologists Louise Barker and Toby Driver (RCAHMW), Bob Johnston (University of Sheffield) and Oliver Davis (Cardiff University) were delighted to be joined by geographer and environmental scientist Sarah Davies of Aberystwyth University.

The aims of this year’s work were twofold; to excavate one of the Island’s main archaeological features, a prehistoric field boundary and the continuation of geophysical survey within the improved fields surrounding the old farm in the centre of the Island.

Despite Storm Katie cutting short our planned four days of fieldwork, we managed to achieve our goals in the two sunny and still days we had and were also lucky enough to witness the return of the puffins.

The focus of our small evaluation trench was a substantial lynchet, part of the Northern Field Systems on the Island.

A lynchet is a bank of earth that builds up on the down slope of a field ploughed over a period of time and the resulting earth or plough soil is important for helping us reconstruct the environmental history of the Island, identify what was being cultivated and possibly at what date.

Therefore, the principal focus of the excavation was to recover samples of the soils within the lynchet which will now be carefully analysed over the coming months.

Preliminary results from the geophysical survey also look positive. Within the improved fields surrounding the farm in the centre of the Island, there is little evidence for surviving archaeology; however geophysics undertaken in 2012 did reveal subsurface archaeological features and we wanted to see if this was the case elsewhere.

This was indeed the case, and in the area surveyed directly to the west of the farm, the gradiometer detected a linear feature, perhaps a ditch cut by later cultivation ridges.

As ever the Skomer Island Project team would like to thank the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and the Skomer Wardens for their continued support and help with our work on the Island.

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Breaking bread proves costly

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A PEMBROKE man who thought it would be funny to destroy a pallet of bread has been given a conditional discharge.

Jack Boyle, aged 18, of Main Street, appeared before Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Tuesday (Oct 16) to plead guilty to a charge of criminal damage.

Prosecuting, Mr Abul Hussain told the Court: “On August 4, the defendant was on a night out and thought it would be funny to damage a pallet of bread. This happened in the early hours of the morning and he came across the pallet outside the SPAR store in St Clears and thought it was a good idea to pick up the pallet and remove the bread and smash it.

“In his interview he said he thought it was funny to do that.”

Defending, Rebecca Carter said: “Yes he has said that but he is remorseful for his actions and the only reason he did this was because he was intoxicated. It is highly unlikely he will find himself in this position again.”

Before sentencing, Magistrates asked him ‘why did you take it out on a pallet of bread?’ to which he replied saying it was a ‘silly action’.

Boyle was given a conditional discharge for the offence and warned he would be punished for this offence if he was to commit another one in the next 12 months.

As well as that he will have to pay £50.78 in compensation, a £20 victim surcharge and £85 in court costs.

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Tenby raising awareness of Indonesia Tsunami Appeal

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A WAVE has swept over Tenby’s North Beach, detailing how to donate to the Indonesia Tsunami Appeal.

‘Sand circles’ artist Marc Treanor designed and created the wave pattern in the sand to raise awareness of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) Cymru’s Indonesia Tsunami Appeal, which was launched on October 4 to raise funds for the survivors of the Tsunami.

The Appeal was launched after a powerful earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on September 28 and triggered a tsunami, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed and entire communities were decimated and cut off from any contact for days. 2,091 people are confirmed dead, more than 5,000 are feared missing and 200,000 survivors are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

So far the Welsh public have raised over £450,000 for the appeal, and DEC Cymru hopes that Marc Treanor’s eye-catching design will help raise more awareness of the appeal and edge Wales over the half a million mark.

Rachel Cable, Chair of DEC Cymru said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Marc Treanor for using his skill and talent to raise awareness of the Indonesia Tsunami Appeal.

“Life doesn’t stop after a natural disaster: babies still get ill, people still need food and water and families need a roof over their heads. With your donations DEC charities are providing essentials like this to survivors in Indonesia, and with more funds we can reach more people.

“The people of Wales have already done amazingly well to raise over £450k – let’s keep going to help as many people as we possibly can. We may be a small nation, but we have a lot of heart.”

To make a donation to the DEC Indonesia Tsunami Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque. To donate £5 text HELPU to 70000. Texts cost £5 and the whole £5 goes to the DEC INDONESIA TSUNAMI APPEAL. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer’s permission. For full terms and conditions and more information go to www.dec.org.uk

Stay up to date with developments in Indonesia, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts with the DEC on twitter: www.twitter.com/decappeal or on Facebook via www.facebook.com/DisastersEmergencyCommittee

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Council wants your comments on its Improvement Review

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has published its Improvement Review which details the Authority’s performance in 2017 – 2018.

This annual report assesses whether the Council has met the improvement objectives which it set for that year and how it has contributed to the seven national goals in the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

As well as reporting back on actions and performance indicators, the review contains information on spending, work with other local authorities and how citizens can get involved in planning for future service improvements.

Council Leader, Councillor David Simpson said 2017-18 was the year that Pembrokeshire County Council started a process of ‘significant change’.

“Some of this change will take time, but I am confident the momentum is building,” he said.

“As a Cabinet we have developed a Programme for the Administration. This is the first time that the political leadership of this Council has set out its stall and provided clarity and direction. We also have re-launched and re-energised Transformation programme.

“The Council is continuing to make progress on improving school results and the 21st Century school building programme is leading to new or substantially refurbished primary and secondary schools. This investment will create learning environments that are fit for the future.

“We made progress across a broad range of other services including social care, as well as decisions to how waste services will be delivered in future.”

“We balanced the budget in 2017-18, but as we look forward to future years, it is clear that the size of the financial challenge we face is growing. Whilst our transformation programme will play its part in making savings, it is clear that we as a Council face some very hard choices.”

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