A brief history

SELRC was founded in 1985 when there was increasing awareness of the archaeological potential of the estuary because of the research of Professor John Allen into the sedimentary sequence and the discoveries made by Derek Upton. The area faced pressure from developments such as the Severn Tidal Barrage, the Second Severn Crossing and Cardiff Bay development. The aims of SELRC were to co-ordinate and encourage research into the archaeology of the estuary, with a strong emphasis on environmental studies. It is the only such organisation that crosses national boundaries in the UK.

For the first four years the committee had a limited membership of less than 30 but in 1990 the decision was taken to form a constitution, encourage anyone with an interest to join and to publish an annual report to highlight the work being undertaken. Report 17 has now been printed and the series have proved a vital and well respected method of communicating the latest archaeological discoveries. Research by SELRC members has also been published in the form of four CBA volumes in addition to numerous books and academic papers. There has also been a long sequence of successful AGMs where the latest work was reported, the largest being an international two-day event in 2000 to celebrate a decade of SELRC in its present form.

The years since 1990 have seen some of the most amazing discoveries in British archaeology happen in the estuary, such as the prehistoric buildings and trackways at Goldcliff and Redwick, the Newport Ship, Barland’s farm boat, Magor Pill boat and the Bronze Age sewn boat pieces, bridge and fishtraps from Caldicot. Some individuals such as Professors John Allen and Martin Bell, Dr Steven Rippon and Nigel Nayling have been very prominent investigators of the estuary’s archaeology throughout SELRC’s history, supported by the constant enthusiasm and support of people like Rick Turner in Cadw. Part of the success of SELRC is that there are now a large number of archaeologists and palaeo-environmentalists working in the area representing a wide range of Universities, commercial contractors, local government archaeologists and keen amateurs. A lot has been discovered but there is much more to come.