Archaeology Wales undertook a programme of archaeological assessment, evaluation, excavation and mitigation on the site of a former stable complex in Old School Close, Merthyr Tydfil. The Assessment was carried out for Asbri Planning Ltd, acting on behalf of Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association, and comprised a Site Visit and a Desk-based Assessment.
The Site Visit identified two groups of standing walls located in the main development area, the earliest of which was stone-built and nineteenth century in date. Map regression analysis indicated that it was originally part of a stable block associated with Cyfarthfa ironworks and as such constructed prior to 1836. The identification of this wall enabled the developer to design a scheme that minimised the impact on the building and reduced the need for costly excavation.
Subsequently, an archaeological evaluation was undertaken to establish the extent and preservation of buried remains at the site, with further information resulting from targeted excavation and a watching brief carried out during construction.
The programme of archaeological work revealed that, despite extensive disturbance as a result of the later use of the site as a bottling plant, the stables structures survived in a reasonable condition, with extant walls and in situ floors. The stables complex had been built around a cobbled yard, with an entrance on the western side and a range of subsidiary buildings to the west.
Finds from the site revealed that it was used for the deposition of materials from the nearby Cyfarthfa iron/steel works and for machinery and other items related to the stables themselves. The finds demonstrate that the horses housed within the stables were used for a range of tasks, including pulling both agricultural and industrial machinery. The structural remains were protected and buried before construction began, and are preserved in situ below the new housing development.