EXCAVATION AT MAENCLOCHOG CASTLE SITE
The community of Maenclochog have expressed a huge interest
in the history of their settlement and in particular the
‘castle site’. Despite many ideas and stories
the answers to the questions “What was there?”
and “when?” have still to be answered.
Documentary research has identified that the area in question
could be the site of a documented Medieval castle, the potential
location of an Iron Age defended enclosure and the known
site of a Manorial Pound dating to at least the 18th century
(Maenclochog Castle Survey, September 2006, Jenny Hall and
Paul Sambrook (Trysor), commissioned by Cymdeithas Clochog).
Currently, the site is being used as a community car-park
and consequently, little can be seen at surface level. However,
to the south-west there is a slight terrace outside of the
bank which has been suggested as the possible remains of
an outer defensive ditch, and to the south a rock outcrop
which could possibly represent the remains of a castle motte.
Dyfed Archaeological Trust, with support from Pembrokeshire
Coast National Park, and PLANED, will work with members
of Maenclochog and surrounding communities to develop and
undertake an archaeological excavation of the castle site
over a two week period (September 19th - 30th). Follow up,
post-excavation analysis and reporting will also involve
the community members. PLANED is supporting this community
excavation as part of a EU funded transnational heritage
project which aims to encourage communities to celebrate
their heritage and culture.
This excavation will enable the local community to actively
participate in forming a better understanding of the history
of their community. As well as being of huge historical
significance to the development of Maenclochog, the site
has also been identified as key to the proposed village
enhancement. The information gained will help the community
to make decisions on the future management of the site.
It will also help them to provide information to other residents,
visitors and tourists about the village.
Members of the Maenclochog community team expertly
cleaning Trench 1
A probable fireplace (honest!)
19th September 2007
- Day 1
We started cleaning up the two trenches
which were cut yesterday by JCB. Almost immediately
we started to discover the outlines of probable pits,
post-holes and ditches. There is even a hearth or fire
place. Several fragments of medieval pottery were also
Trench 1 was placed to look for surviving
remains of buildings inside the castle and already it
appears we can see that Maenclochog Castle does survives
below the car park!
After lunch heavy rain brought the
days digging to an end, but not before we started to
clean up in Trench 2. Here we found parts of the stone
wall of the ‘pound’ where livestock markets
were once held.
Cleaning the ‘pound’ wall in Trench
2 before the rain sets in
Digging the dog burial
And here it is finished!
Hard at work
20th September 2007
- Day 2
In Trench 1, we started investigating
a square looking cut and found some bones. At first
we thought they were human but as we revealed the jaw
it became obvious that it was a dog. Elsewhere in the
trench we found a small area of flat stones that appeared
to be surrounded by stake holes. Our initial thoughts
are that this may be the remains of an animal pen.
In Trench 2 we continued cleaning and
found a ditch on the outside of the pound wall.
Polly Groom, the Pembrokeshire Coast
National Park Archaeologist explained how to record
the wealth of historical information surviving within
the churchyard as part of a graveyard survey.
Excavated stake holes
Cleaning up on the outside of the ‘pound’
Cleaned ‘pound wall’ showing ditch
and post hole in front
21st September 2007
- Day 3
The day was extremely wet. Too wet
to do any digging in the morning.
Instead we sat around and talked about
other aspects of the village’s history. We looked
at the records from Dyfed Archaeological Trust’s Historic
Environment Record which records all of the known archaeological
sites within the region and recorded information which
In the afternoon the weather dried
up enough to do more cleaning in Trench 2. This was
when we found a large post-hole on the outside of the
The weather was better today
Beginning to explore the remains of the medieval
The excavated foundations of a medieval building?
22nd September 2007
- Day 4
In trench 1 we excavated a post hole
with post packing stones. We also started to explore
the possible remains of Medieval buildings. The first
part to be investigated was a possible foundation trench
for a timber framed building which appears to contain
the hearth spotted on day 1.
In Trench 2 we began to dig out the
ditch on the outside of the pound wall. As we did so
we hit evidence of an earlier wall. We think that this
may be the castle defence wall. So the ditch below the
‘pound’ wall has now become the foundation
trench for the castle wall. There also appears to be
a possible outer defensive ditch beyond the castle wall.
The wall beneath the ‘pound’ wall is
23rd September 2007
- Day 5
Started doing some planning and context
recording. Possible foundation trench in Trench 1 looks
like it is not a building foundation trench as it appears
to curve – possibly a property boundary –
or is it an Iron Age round house with a central hearth!
Trench 1 – Richard has been digging
down on the inside of the pound wall. Emptied the foundation
trench for the castle wall and continuing to dig the
outer defensive ditch. But also looks like there is
stratigraphy surviving between the outer ditch and the
castle wall. Could be evidence of the Iron Age fortifications.
Who knows at this stage?
24th September 2007 - Day 6
Today we arrived at site to find our trenches
flooded after heavy rain over night!
We were visited by four groups from Maenclochog
In Trench 1 we began to draw the features we have
discovered so far, and excavated some possible post
In Trench 2 we began to excavate a large post
hole and dug down to find out if there is an iron
age bank outside the medieval castle wall. We also
began to excavate a possible outer defensive ditch
at the south end of the trench. Is it Medieval or
is it Iron Age?
25th September 2007 - Day 7
Today terrible weather made work difficult. Despite
the rain we were visited by the local Steiner School.
In Trench 1 we caught up with the paperwork, making
a record of the features we have found so far.
In Trench 2 we began to plan the pound wall and
the medieval castle wall. The Castle wall is 2.20m
thick. We also excavated the large post hole and continued
to remove the possible bank material.
26th September 2007 - Day 8
After yet another wet and windy start, the weather
improved and it was possible to clean up the trenches.
In Trench 1 we excavated the ditch of the large roundhouse,
finding evidence that it once contained post holes.
We also excavated other post holes with packing
stones, outside the roundhouse.
In Trench 2 we continued to remove the possible
bank material to reveal the buried soil horizon underneath.
27th September - Day 9
Today we excavated the fill of the hearth at
the centre of the Iron Age round house. We will
process the hearth fill to try and find charred
seeds which will tell us what the inhabitants of
Maenclochog were eating in the Iron Age!
Now that we have excavated most of the
post holes and stake holes, might there be a second
The excavated curved ditch. This may have been
a ‘drip gulley’ to drain away water
running off the roof of the round house.
In Trench 2 we continued to
remove the yellow clay which may have formed a defensive
bank in the Iron Age.
28th September - Day 10
Trench 2- It is beginning to look as if we have
indeed found an outer defensive ditch and bank,
but still no dating evidence to tell us if it is
medieval or Iron Age.
In Trench 1, Lucy starts to excavate more
post holes! These may have formed the walls of the
Iron Age round house.
Heather and Joan excavate part of the clay
floor of the round house.
The post holes for the wall of the round house are
now clear. At the top of the picture a row of post
holes may be the remains of an interior wall dividing
up the interior space of the round house.
29th September - Day 11
A busy day, with lots of digging, drawing, photography
and written descriptions to be made of all the features
we have found.
Now that we have removed all of the yellow
clay bank soil, we have revealed a dark grey layer.
This is a ‘buried soil’ – the
ground surface before the ditch and bank were first
Tessa began to record inscriptions on grave
stones in St Mary’s graveyard. Eventually
this may be added to a bigger survey of Pembrokeshire
30th September - Day 12
The last day of the excavation, with lots of
jobs to finish. Alice introduced the team to Investigating
standing buildings, to look for clues to their history
and changing use through time.
In trench 2 we dug through the buried soil
to check there was no more archaeology to dig.
In Trench 1, is this line of stake holes a boundary
fence between two round houses?
1st October - Day 13
Today the trenches were backfilled. The dog burial
was left in peace and the ancient past of Maenclochog
is hidden beneath the ground once again.
The excavation has generated much
interest in the history of the village, which as
well as rediscovering its medieval castle, has discovered
its prehistoric origins.
In November (date to be confirmed),
Dyfed Archaeological Trust will present the initial results
of the excavation to the community in Maenclochog
The team from Dyfed Archaeological Trust
would like to thank the people of Maenclochog for
their hospitality and interest during the excavation,
and PLANED, who managed to find funding for the
And many thanks are due to the
team of local volunteers who have worked hard to
successfully reveal the history of Maenclochog hidden
beneath the car park.