UK – A UNIQUE record of the changing landscape of Wales as seen from the air has been acquired for the nation.
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has bought 80,000 aerial photographs of the country taken between 1919 to 2006.
They were parts of the Aerofilms Collection of historical air photographs, bought from the major European mapping and land consultancy company Blom ASA in partnership with Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and English Heritage.
The collection was the most significant body of aerial photography of the UK remaining in private hands and presents an unparalleled picture of Britain in the 20th century.
The purchase was made possible by financial support from English Heritage donors and supporters, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Friends of National Libraries, and the three partners say they will need to obtain further support to catalogue the collection and make it fully accessible.
But the acquisition itself is a boost to the national archive of aerial photography held by the Royal Commission, which celebrates its centenary this year.
Aerial photographs are the most requested resource in the commission’s archives, and it will soon be possible to view some of the new images that were bound into historic registers by Aerofilms.
The huge public interest translated into healthy sales for a book exploring Pembrokeshire’s historic landscapes from the air.
Following a sell-out of the first edition of Pembrokeshire: Historic Landscapes from the Air, the RCAHMW has reprinted its study of a county which boasts some of the most enduring historic sites in the British Isles.
Many are well known to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who enjoy a visit to Pembrokeshire every year.
But hundreds are hidden from view either on private land, on inaccessible peaks and cliffs, or buried by centuries of cultivation.
Written by Dr Toby Driver, the Royal Commission’s aerial investigator, the book reveals concealed monuments and allows the reader to appreciate more familiar ones from a unique point of view.
Dr Driver said: “Aerial photography has always been a fantastic way to capture landscapes and the acquisition of the Aerofilms collection is a unique opportunity to house one of the finest 20th-century aerial collections of Wales here in Aberystwyth. Pembrokeshire features prominently in the Aerofilms collection and I hope the new soft cover for Pembrokeshire: Historic Landscapes from the Air, will attract even more readers to appreciate this landscape.”