The £7m new primary school being built in Briton Ferry has been named after an iconic standing stone on the school grounds, which is believed to be dated back to the Bronze Age.
Known as Carreg Hir (Long Stone) the mighty 9 foot 2-inch tall monolith was located in the grounds of the former Cwrt Sart Comprehensive where the new 420-pupil primary school is currently under construction.
The new school, which will also cater for 75 part-time nursery children, has now been named Ysgol Carreg Hir in recognition of the ancient stone monument – by local children.
Pupils from the three existing primary schools in the Briton Ferry area, (Brynhyfryd, Llansawel and Ynysmaerdy) were all invited to submit their ideas for a school name and logo.
A total of 98 entries were submitted, with 42 different name suggestions.
The three most popular names went to a closed ballot by the pupils in the school councils of the three schools.
As a result, Ysgol Carreg Hir had the most votes and the school logo will be “Together if we believe we can achieve”.
The new school name and logo have been officially approved by Neath Port Talbot councillors.
Lesley Hynes, Head teacher of Ysgol Carreg Hir said: “All the pupils within the three primary schools had the opportunity to be involved in this process and the school council used their voting rights to express their preference. We are all very pleased with the final name and are eagerly waiting for the next phase of development of our new school”.
The Carreg Hir Standing Stone will have pride of place next to the new school which will open its doors in autumn 2018.
Standing Stones (also known as menhirs) are thought to have had ceremonial or religious uses and it is believed their sheer size may have meant they were used as rallying points for speeches or important events.
Carreg Hir is wreathed in mystery and legend.
A published 1848 reference says: "There is a charm, not yet discovered, which can compel the stone to speak to reveal the secret of its history but that having once spoken it will be silent forever."
And another legend claims there is an underground passage leading between the stone and Neath Abbey some 1.3 miles (2.1 km) to the North.
When opened, Briton Ferry’s Ysgol Carreg Hir, being built by Kier, will include multi-use games areas and hard and soft play areas for different age groups.
Jason Taylor, Operations Director, Kier Construction Wales, said: “We’re extremely proud to be working with Neath Port Talbot Council to deliver this important facility which will benefit both the pupils and the Neath Port Talbot area.
“In partnership together, we will enhance the delivery of education and leave a lasting legacy for the community”.
Significant progress is being made on the construction of the new school with a new steel frame having been installed giving a glimpse of the scale of the transformation taking place on the site.
The project is funded by Neath Port Talbot Council and the Welsh Government, as part of its 21st Century Schools Programme.
Councillor Peter Rees, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture said: “Ysgol Carreg Hir is a great name for the new school and marks a key milestone in the development that will bring the total investment in new school builds in the county borough to more than £134m with some new schools already completed and operational and others underway”.
The aims of the Council’s Strategic School Improvement Programme are to raise school standards and enhance the quality of the learning environment by providing the right schools in the right places, and that they are fit for 21st Century learners.