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So, are these pounds 2 slave shackles ironworks relics?

Byline: Carys Hepworth

A PENSIONER who bought slave shackles from a car boot sale for pounds 2 believes the relics were made at an historic South Wales ironworks and are worth a small fortune.

John Allen, 72, bought the shackles in Splott about three or four years ago, and is certain they came from the 253-year-old Dowlais Ironworks, which has been shortlisted for the archaeological equivalent of the Oscars.

On Monday, the Echo reported the ironworks could soon be as important as Stonehenge after the Merthyr Tydfil site was shortlisted for the Best Project Award at the 2012 British Archaeological Awards.

Mr Allen, who lives in Splott, said: "I saw the story in the Echo, and I'm certain the slave shackles I have are from those ironworks. They have a beautiful script, and they're heavy as anything. I was looking in a magazine reading about slavery, and they are the exact same as the picture I saw.

"I bought them at a car boot sale, I picked them up for pounds 2, I just thought, 'What the heck, give them a whirl'.

"They don't have a key with them but if someone wants to put them in a museum that's fine with me, I'll hand them over."

Mr Allen believes the shackles were used around the ankles, as he says they are too large for the wrists.

"They appear to be a bit big, and these poor old slaves were bound to have been thin so they must have been used for the ankles."

Dowlais Ironworks rose from humble beginnings as a partnership in 1759 to the might of the largest iron producer in the UK in the 1840s - employing 7,300 people.

For the past two years, opencast mining firm Miller Argent has been excavating the site, and its work saw the company shortlisted for the award.

The ironworks, also known as the Guest Keen Ironworks, finished production in 1987 when then-owners British Steel shut it down.

Miller Argent's research has unearthed treasures from more than 200 years of the site's history - including the complete excavation of the earliest ironstone pit head complex yet to be discovered in Wales as well as the excavation of an early mining settlement.

CAPTION(S):

* The excavation of an ironstone pit at the Dowlais Ironworks site * Eye for a bargain - John Allen, of Splott, bought some slave shackles at a car boot sale for pounds 2 PICTURE: Matthew Hor wood [umlaut]
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 20, 2012
Words:408
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