Home >

News 2005


During June 2004 Dyfed Archaeological Trust undertook the partial excavation of a medieval timber trackway crossing Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) in Ceredigion. The trackway was visible on the surface as a low bank running across a pasture field. Recent land drainage and other agricultural improvements presented a severe threat to the survival of the timber elements of the feature and a decision was taken to undertake a rescue excavation with funding support from Cadw. The excavation also provided a training opportunity for students from the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at the University of Birmingham.

The timbers formed a walkway about 1.5m wide and the whole structure was supported by a series of wooden pegs or stakes hammered into the peat. The trackway had then been covered in layers of gravel effectively forming a roadway across the bog. Two 10th - 11th Century AD radiocarbon dates were obtained from two of the timbers and dendrochonological dates suggest that three of the timbers are from trees that were felled between AD1080 and AD1120. At the southern terminus of the visible causeway, the trackway was found to overlie an extensive area of burning and industrial debris. A preliminary examination of the samples from this waste indicate a very high proportion of lead waste suggesting that lead ore may have been smelted in the immediate vicinity. We have just obtained two radiocarbon dates of 60 BC-AD90 and AD20-220 for charcoal from these industrial deposits, suggesting a late Iron Age or Roman date. How does this industrial activity relate to the trackway? The dates are suggesting that there is a long time gap between the two. However, the charcoal that provided the radiocarbon dates may be from old or reused timbers. Another possibility is that the industrial activity continued well after the Roman period and that the trackway dates to the later stages of its use, perhaps even linking it with quarrying activity on the ‘island’ of Llangynfelyn to the north.

The excavation attracted extensive local interest with one of Dyfed Archaeological Trust’s staff, Richard Jones, acting as a public liaison officer. Richard arranged visits from all the local schools and ensured that the excavation was extensively reported, in both the Welsh and the English languages, by local newspapers, radio-stations and TV news. A very successful open day attracted a large turnout from the local rural community and opportunities to be involved in the excitement of discovery were provided to the Aberystwyth Young Archaeologists Club and senior pupils at local comprehensive schools. Dyfed Archaeological Trust also ran a bilingual ‘dig diary’ to coincide with the excavation and this can still be viewed at digdiary.htm . It was noticeable that the number of visits to the Trust’s website increase eight-fold while this dig dairy was being produced.

A further season of excavation will be undertaken at the site in June 2005 to allow a more thorough investigation of the industrial activity associated with the southern end of the trackway. Once again we intend to ensure that local community interaction will be at the heart of the project with regular updates on our website.

Project Contact: Ken Murphy - k.murphy@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk



Dyfed Archaeological Trust has recently been working with the Brecon Beacons National Park and Cadw on a project to record and protect the remains of a Bronze Age burial mound at Fan Foel on Mynydd Du, Carmarthenshire (SN 8215 2234). The condition of the monument was recorded in June 2002 as part of the Cadw-funded Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites Assessment project. It was observed that the barrow had been suffering from severe erosion both from the wind and rain and from visitors moving stones to form a ‘walker’s cairn’. Therefore, a decision was taken to record and to partly excavate the barrow in June 2004.

The low burial mound covered a stone, box-like, cist and was surrounded by a ring of stone approximately 11m in diameter. The cist was about 1m long and 0.5m wide and contained a pile of cremated bone, a broken pottery urn (possibly a Food Vessel) and several flint tools. A preliminary examination of the cremated bone indicates that it includes the bones of a child and the bones of at least one pig. A second cremation deposit was recovered from the surrounding stone together with fragments from a Collared Urn.

The surviving elements of the monument have now been protected beneath terram matting and backfilled with stone and turf. An interim report on the excavation has now appeared in the Carmarthenshire Antiquary.

Project Contact: Gwilym Hughes




Esso Oil Refinery

Dyfed Archaeological Trust are currently carrying out a major excavation on the site of the former Esso Oil Refinery on Milford Haven. This is soon to be the site of a new Liquified Natural Gas terminal. Two archaeological sites have been identified; an early medieval metalworking complex and the remnants of a former river channel with Bronze Age dates. The excavation is ongoing.

Early Medieval cemetery sites on the Pembrokeshire coast

A major project is now underway examining the sites of three early medieval cemeteries that are threatened by coastal erosion in southern Pembrokeshire. Initial work has already begun at one site; Longoar Bay near St Ishmael’s. Small-scale excavation is now planned for sites at St Bride’s and at West Angle in July. We are planning to provide regular updates on our website of this work.

Llandeilo Roman Fort

We have just learnt that the Trust will be carrying out a preliminary investigation of the recently discovered Roman Fort in late June and early July. The work is being undertaken for the National Trust with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh European Funding Office. The project will also be featured as part of the Big Roman Dig being run by Channel 4’s Time Team with live outside broadcasts from the excavation during the weekend of 2nd-3rd July. You can follow the progress of the excavation though the dig diary on our website.

Contact: Gwilym Hughes




Dyfed Archaeological Trust staff are continuing to record many interesting artefacts brought to our office as part of this government-sponsored voluntary recording scheme for finders of archaeological objects. Of particular interest was a medieval pilgrim’s lead ampulla, showing the scallop of Sant Iago de Compostela of Spain, which was discovered in Carmarthenshire in 2003. Originally filled with holy water from the site of a pilgrimage, ampullae were attached to the clothing by means of lugs at either side. Another interesting medieval find was a seal matrix, used to make a ‘signature’ impression in the wax used to seal correspondence. The example found dates to the mid-late 13th century. It depicts a female figure holding an open book and the lettering around the edge reads ‘Seal of Climence Lady of Bois’. A manor named Bois is known of in Auxerre in France.

As well as these more personal objects, coins from many periods have been recorded. These range from a silver denarius of the emperor Trajan (98-117AD) to an Elizabethan groat and even a coin depicting the Saxon king Aethelred (978-1016AD) which was found near Laugharne. A rather worrying observation is that coins from the twentieth century are degrading faster than those from earlier periods and can sometimes be more difficult to identify!

The Portable Antiquities Scheme covers the whole of Britain and all recorded finds that pre-date 1600 can be seen on its website, www.finds.org.uk. Anybody finding something locally that they think is of archaeological interest should contact Marion Page (m.page@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk).

Project Contact: Marion Page



The Archaeology of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Since April 2004 the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has been providing funding to Dyfed Archaeological Trust to employ an archaeologist to look after the archaeology of the Park. The archaeologist in post is Polly Groom and here she talks about her work.

As the National Park archaeologist I’m very lucky to have a job which I really enjoy. The scenery is spectacular, the people are friendly and the weather certainly keeps me on my toes! But best of all, for me, is the archaeology in the Park – it is fantastic.

This National Park has everything. From slight traces of early human occupation to medieval castles; from Iron Age forts to World War II airfields - the past is everywhere you look. The whole landscape has been shaped by past human actions, and I find this fascinating.

Many of the Park’s small coves and beaches are good examples of this - you often find evidence of the 19th century lime industry in the form of limekilns and cart tracks near a beach which is flanked by an Iron Age promontory fort on the headland, dating back some 2,500 years. Some of these forts - like the one at St Davids Head - contain evidence of later re-use during the Roman period, and sometimes also during the early Medieval period. There is a wealth of archaeology waiting to be explored!

However, the historic environment of the Park is not all about individual sites and specific monuments. Field boundaries, farm buildings, trackways, footpaths, gateposts - all of these seemingly small things make up what we often talk about as ‘the historic landscape’. On their own all of these things may not seem important, but together they are part of the unique character of our very special National Park. Dyfed Archaeological Trust, the National Park Authority, along with other agencies and individuals, are working to protect this ‘historic landscape’, and to improve our understanding of it.

I hope that you enjoy the archaeology of this Park as much as I do!

Contact: Polly Groom



Following the continued success of National Archaeology Day the Council for British Archaeology have decided this year to extend it for a week. Dyfed Archaeological Trust is planning a series of events with exhibitions and activities at the Ceredigion Museum (on Saturday 23rd July), the Carmarthen Museum at Abergwili (on Satruday 16th July) and at our excavation at St Bride’s in Pembrokeshire. Further details will be posted on our website.

Marion Page – m.page@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk



The regional Historic Environment Record for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire is held by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. The HER now holds over 39,000 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.

A new web-based computer system is currently being developed to improve access to HER information. This is being done in conjunction with the other three Welsh Archaeological Trusts and Oxford ArchDigital (OAD). At the time of writing the Trusts are testing a ‘sample’ of the final product. The new system will allow public access to core data, via the Internet, and it is hoped that this will be possible by the autumn of 2005. The records will be accessible from each individual Trust website as well as a common web portal which will be developed to access information from all Welsh Heritage Organisations. Putting the HERs on-line will allow everyone to search the records themselves from their own computer as well as enabling more staff members to enter new data. There will also be the facility for the public to provide information and comments directly to the HER.

Marion Page– m.page@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk



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.

If you would like to be kept in touch with our work with news updates, by mail and via our website, get in touch via the contact addresses below and we will send you future editions of our newsletter.

Marion Page – m.page@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk



[click for navigation menu if not present]