News Summer 2004
A TALE OF TWO CASTLES – CARDIGAN AND CARMARTHEN
The 15th century gatehouse at Carmarthen Castle
Dyfed Archaeological Trust are currently
involved in archaeological work at two of the most important castles
in southwest Wales. The two castles lie at the heart of the county
towns of Cardigan and Carmarthen.
It is hoped that a major conservation project will
soon get under way at Cardigan Castle and to assist in this cause,
the castle will shortly feature in the new BBC2 series of Restoration.
The first stone castle was built in the 1100s by Rhys ap Gruffudd
(The Lord Rhys). He celebrated its completion by staging a festival
of poetry and music, which is regarded as the first Eisteddfod.
In 2003, Ceredigion County Council asked Dyfed Archaeological Trust to
undertake an excavation to the rear of Green Villa cottages, near
to the present castle entrance. The investigation revealed substantial
masonry remains of what appeared to be part of the medieval entrance
structure to the castle.
Meanwhile, at Carmarthen Castle, Dyfed Archaeological Trust
has been assisting with a long-term enhancement project designed
to bring the castle back into the heart of the community. The project
is being run by Carmarthenshire County Council with the support
of Cadw and the Heritage Lottery Fund. During the summer of 2003,
an excavation was undertaken just outside the magnificent, twin-towered
gatehouse that represented the main entry into the castle from the
town. The excavation revealed evidence of the bridge that originally
crossed a wide defensive ditch that separated the gatehouse from
Nott Square. We were able to show that this bridge was later replaced
by a stone-built causeway. Eventually, the ditch filled with rubbish
and was built over during the nineteenth century.
Part of the ditch was also excavated. Although
the bottom was not reached, it was shown to be at least 4 metres
deep. A number of important finds dating to the 15th century were
retrieved from the ditch-fill, including an assemblage of leather
shoes and wooden bowls.
Cardigan Castle - Ken Murphy - email@example.com
Carmarthen Castle - Ken Murphy - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bronze Age ring ditches at Llandysul
from the air
The medieval dovecote foundations
excavated at Newton
A BRONZE AGE BURIAL GROUND AND
PREHISTORIC FARM AT LLANDYSUL
During the summer of 2003, the excavation of two
sites during the construction of a new business park at Llandysul,
revealed important prehistoric remains. One site consisted of three
ring-ditches, thought to be the remains of Bronze Age burial mounds.
They were actually first noticed by a sharp-eyed construction worker
while he was removing the topsoil by machine. The second site was
a settlement site surrounded by a wooden palisade or fence. The
remains were slight consisting of shallow post-holes, pits and trenches.
However, 5000 year old pottery dating from the early Neolithic was
found in some of the pits. A series of radiocarbon dates indicate
a long sequence of occupation stretching from the Neolithic to the
Iron Age. The excavation was funded by the Welsh Development Agency.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES AT WATERSTON, PEMBROKESHIRE
During early 2003, Dyfed Archaeological Trust carried
out an excavation in the area around the medieval and later settlement
of Newton, at Waterston near Milford Haven. The project was undertaken
prior to the construction of two massive storage tanks for Liquid
Natural Gas by Petroplus Ltd. The discoveries included the remains
of a Bronze Age roundhouse, two corn dryers dating to AD 720-960
and a large dwelling and a dovecote dating to the early 1500s.
A MEDIEVAL WOODEN TRACKWAY NEAR TALYBONT
In March this year, Dyfed Archaeological Trust made the
dramatic discovery of a wooden trackway that crosses the marshland
of Cors Fochno (Borth Bog). The trackway has now been radiocarbon
dated to the 10th or early 11th century AD and it seems to be heading
towards the medieval church at Llangynfelyn. A major excavation
is now planned for this summer with the support of funding from
Cadw and involving students from the University of Birmingham. The
results of the excavations will be reported through our website
and future editions of the newsletter.
For more information see the Dig
PENTIR PUMLUMON: A COMMUNITY PROJECT
An artists reconstruction of how the Counting
House would have looked in the late 19th century. Lead miners came
to the Counting House to recieve their weekly pay. (Artist:
Richard Jones of Dyfed Archaeological Trust)
A photograph of the old Lisburne mines Counting
House, Pontrhydygroes, Ceredigion in 2003.
Over the past year, Dyfed Archaeological Trust
have been involved in a project to help improve people’s understanding
and enjoyment of mid and north Ceredigion. Pentir Pumlumon tourism
business forum devised a project involving professionals and communities
to produce 19 heritage information panels for nine community areas.
The project was funded by the Welsh Development Agency, Countryside
Council for Wales and Ceredigion County Council.
Dyfed Archaeological Trust used a methodology they have been developing
over the past few years of community or heritage “audits”.
For each of the nine communities a working bilingual report was
created, based on the information in the Historic Environment Record.
The reports included a chronological summary of the area and a mapped
gazetteer of sites contained in the HER, each with a short description.
These were distributed in advance of a community evening where,
after a short presentation by Dyfed Archaeological Trust staff, people were encouraged
to provide further information on the history and archaeology of
their community. Dyfed Archaeological Trust also asked for their views on what was
important for visitors and the next generation to know about their
This information was fed back into the HER and
it was used as the basis for the information panels, both the text
and images. The panels were formally launched in Llanafan where
they were displayed together for a weekend before the process of
putting them in place was undertaken.
Jenny Hall, March, 2004
Project contact: Phillip Wait - email@example.com
DESERTED RURAL SETTLEMENTS
An upland DRS site in Ceredigion
This year marks the end of an 8-year
study of deserted settlement sites in the southwest Wales countryside.
The “Deserted Rural Settlements”(DRS) project was grant-aided
by Cadw, and was part of a pan-Wales study. Its aim was to attempt
to better understand the large number of deserted huts and homes
that can be found in the countryside. Over 1000 sites were visited
and assessed and the details entered into the regional Historic Environment Record.
Although some old farmsteads and cottages were
visited, the project mostly looked at three particular site types;
long huts, longhouses and platforms. Each of these is thought to
represent the remains of dwellings that were occupied during the
medieval or post-medieval period. However, very few have been excavated
and even today there is very little known about individual sites.
DRS sites include dwellings that were used for
a variety of purposes. Many upland sites were undoubtedly used as
hafotai or summer-houses by medieval herdsmen and their families.
There are other sites that can be identified as the more recent
homes of shepherding families that lived on the mountain pastures
all year-round, even in the most remote and difficult terrain. In
the upland environment abandoned settlements usually survive fairly
well, as ruins, and are easily spotted in the landscape. DRS sites
are therefore a very important element in the archaeological resource
of the uplands.
Within the farmed, lowland landscape, the project
has identified many dozens of cottages that housed agricultural
labouring families during the 18th and 19th centuries. In many cases,
there is no longer any visible trace of these dwellings. Even some
large farmstead and mansions have disappeared over the centuries.
However, these sites sometime survive as archaeological features
below ground, preserving important evidence of the domestic and
economic life of previous generations.
The project has also been responsible for a significant
increase in a number of DRS sites that are now protected as Scheduled
Ancient Monuments, recognising the importance of preserving the
best examples of each site type for future generations to appreciate
and learn from. However, future work is needed, especially through
excavation, in order to further enhance our knowledge of these important
Cadw have now published a guide to the Deserted Rural Settlements
project, called “Caring for Lost Farmsteads” and a few
are still available through Dyfed Archaeological Trust (see HER contact
details). A more detailed account dealing with the overall DRS project
is also due for publication later in 2004, details of which can
be obtained directly from Cadw.
Paul Sambrook, March 2004
Project contact: Gwilym Hughes
1000th TIR GOFAL FARM
A traditional farm building being restored as part of the Tir
Dyfed Archaeological Trust has now provided archaeological advice to
1000 farms throughout southwest Wales as part of the Tir Gofal
The scheme is run by the Countryside Council for Wales and aims
to encourage agricultural practices that promote the conservation
of the ‘historic’ and ‘natural’ environment.
Dyfed Archaeological Trust provides management advice on the historic
environment of every farm that joins the scheme, using information
from the regional Historic Environment Record and historic maps.
In addition, over 200 of the farms have so far been visited by
an archaeologist from Dyfed Archaeological Trust to identify further areas where
the archaeology could be effectively protected or enhanced.
Tir Gofal allows the opportunity to visit large
areas of countryside that have not been surveyed before, providing
new information on previously known sites and identifying hundreds
more for the first time. In one case, an area of parkland decorated
with specimen trees was found to be designed to represent the battle
positions of troops during a campaign in India! Importantly, the
farmers and landowners share their own knowledge of the farm’s
landscape and its history. As well as specific archaeological sites,
we also look at extensive landscape features such as field patterns
and types of field boundaries, features that give a locality its
distinct character. We also provide advice on restoration projects
for traditional buildings or other features.
In the long-term Tir Gofal will help to preserve
individual archaeological sites and landscape character and it will
also dramatically enhance our knowledge of the historic landscape
Project Contact: Alice Pyper - firstname.lastname@example.org
NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAY
This annual event falls on Saturday, July 17th and, as
in previous years, Dyfed Archaeological Trust will be holding a series of activities
in conjunction with Carmarthen Museum, Abergwili, Carmarthen. Details
will be posted on the Dyfed Archaeological Trust website prior to the date and will also
be available from Gavin Evans at Carmarthen Museum (01267 231691). An
event is also being planned for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Visitor Centre at St. David’s. This will include guided walks around
the archaeology of St David’s Head.
Contact: Marion Page – email@example.com
The regional Historic Environment Record for Carmarthenshire,
Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire is held by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. The HER now holds over
37,500 records and is a valuable source of information about the past
landscapes of the region. We welcome enquires from anyone wishing to find
out more about the archaeology of the area.
Contact: Marion Manwaring - firstname.lastname@example.org
KEEP IN TOUCH
Dyfed Archaeological Trust is keen to foster links with members
of the public and community groups. You may have an interest in our work,
as an amateur archaeologist or historian or as someone who is interested
in the past of your community. Perhaps you work for an organisation that
may have an interest in fostering links with Dyfed Archaeological Trust.
Contact: Marion Page – email@example.com