History Detectives in Rhondda Cynon Taf

History Detectives in Rhondda Cynon Taf

A group of young people from Treorchy Comprehensive School recently took up the Altered Images challenge to become ‘History Detectives’ to research a selection of Blue Plaques found within their school’s catchment area and to produce a film which would showcase the fascinating stories and remarkable accomplishments which lie behind the names. 

Blue Plaques are placed on buildings throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf and memorialise people, places and events from the fields of music, sport, art, literature and politics.

During their research sessions at Treorchy Library, the young people created a shortlist of seven individuals to focus on.  The group then met on a weekly basis to develop the stories they wanted to tell, and worked with Hugh Griffiths from Lily Pad Films, to create their short films which weave together photographs from the Library Service’s Digital Archive, original animated sequences and imagery generated by artificial intelligence.  

 Altered Images also invited the pupils of Years 5 and 6 from Hafod Primary School to become ‘History Detectives’, to discover and explore a part of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s heritage which is arguably a little less well known – its prehistoric origins. With help from staff at Rhondda Heritage Park Museum, the group became young archaeologists to look at some of the scheduled monuments that exist in the region.  

There are many burial mounds across Rhondda Cynon Taf, including Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age cairns, as well as Roman graves. The project gave children the opportunity to learn about the many different types of burial customs through history, excavation techniques, model-making and animation. They also travelled to the Vale of Glamorgan to visit Tinkinswood Burial Chamber, a Neolithic tomb which is topped with one of the largest capstones in Britain, to assist their research. 

Both groups have created films which are original, creative and engaging, which will soon feature on a brand-new heritage website which is being developed as part of the Altered Images project, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The website, which will be launched in 2024, will showcase and celebrate Rhondda Cynon Taf’s heritage and history, and these films will sit proudly within Rhondda Cynon Taf’s new online collection. 

In the meantime, the film by Treorchy Comprehensive pupils can be viewed here

Hafod Primary School’s film can be viewed here

These projects were funded by Altered Images which is facilitating a three-year activity programme designed to connect our communities with their local heritage and history. The project is doing this by working with schools, community groups and individuals on an array of heritage projects which are capturing the diverse stories of our neighbourhoods, and recording and researching Rhondda Cynon Taf’s monuments and memorials.  The project has been made possible with £250,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, with responsibility for Heritage Services, said:

“The Altered Images project has enabled young people to research and showcase their local history in exciting ways.  It’s especially rewarding to see younger children getting involved and learning about Rhondda Cynon Taf’s history from such a young age.  The films that have been produced by both groups are engaging and full of facts. The new Altered Images website, due in 2024, will provide a perfect setting for these films and more local history information.  Well done to the pupils of Treorchy Comprehensive and Hafod Primary – true history detectives in Rhondda Cynon Taf!”

There are lots of ways for young people to get involved in our local history. The Council’s Heritage Team, based at Rhondda Heritage Park Museum, work with schools across the county borough offering school trips to the museum and much more. They also run a free Archaeology Club for primary school children and manage the Blue Plaque scheme across Rhondda Cynon Taf.  For more information, please email heritageservice@rctcbc.gov.uk

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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