Whilst working on our recent project for Swansea Council, we came across some exciting archaeological findings at Vivian and Musgrave Engine House:

  1.  In-situ Drive Shaft and Belt Wheel: A drive shaft and belt wheel, potentially originating from the 1819 rolling mill, were discovered southeast of the Musgrave flywheel pit. The feature, housed within a stone lined culvert, reveals signs of later modifications, hinting at its continuous use.
  2. Discovery of Musgrave Rolls Machine Base: During the investigations, the original poured- concrete machine base for the Musgrave rolls was uncovered northeast of the Musgrave flywheel. This base includes pairs of vertical machine bolts and a central drip channel, indicating its purpose and function. While the rolls were decommissioned in later plans and the area converted to storage, the survival of the machine base is remarkable. Its direct association with the Scheduled Monument adds to its significance, especially considering its good legibility despite partial truncation.
  3. Early Masonry Structures: Several masonry structures dating back to the 1819 No.1 engine and rolling mill have been uncovered. These include a substantial Pennant stone foundation and a heat-affected platform, providing insights into the early architecture of the site.
  4. Continuous Furnaces and Hearth Features: Two continuous furnaces have been revealed. The first furnace is a 20th-century addition, disrupting earlier structures. A second potential continuous furnace, positioned northwest of the first, runs parallel to the Musgrave Engine House. Adjacent to this furnace are three features resembling hearths or rake-out holes, notable for their inclusion of steel clamp loops. These discoveries offer intriguing insights into the industrial processes carried out at the site.
  5. Annealing Furnaces and Rolling Processes: A significant number of brick furnaces and hot gas flues have been uncovered within the centre of the site. The rolling processes required that copper bolts were heated or ‘annealed’ prior to rolling to soften metal and prevent fracturing during rolling, which required specialised furnaces, each tailored to the dimensions of the copper rolls. Despite the importance of these furnaces, there is limited literature or research on their form and function within the context of Hafod and Morfa Copperworks.
  6. Discovery of Primary Furnaces: During investigations, one or possibly two primary furnaces associated with the 1819 No.1 engine were uncovered. These furnaces, resembling the reverberatory furnaces documented in 1861, were connected to a substantial central chimney stack. Brick-arched hot gas flues linked these furnaces, with at least four identified, suggesting a sophisticated heating system predating the construction of the Musgrave Engine House.

These discoveries shed light on the industrial processes and infrastructure at Hafod Copperworks, highlighting the historical importance of Musgrave and Vivian Engine Houses. The completed and approved archaeological report will be shared with the regional Historic Environment Record and National Monuments Record of Wales for inclusion in public records. We were able to make these discoveries through the project’s funding partners, Powered by Levelling Up. The discovered artefacts will be carefully backfilled, and plans are underway to integrate these findings into the redevelopment designs. Further research is ongoing to reveal more about the site’s rich history!