Saturday, 29 June 2013
There has been a slight, small-ish, almost in-consequencial debate floating around certain Welsh circles that CADW exists primarily to promote the Edwardian Castles, it's something I have addressed in my column in the Herald Gymraeg a few times, mainly because such a debate irritates the hell out of me. One, it's not true, two it's symptomatic of Welsh "defeatism" and thirdly as I have pointed out - just look at all the Neolithic sites on Anglesey that are under CADW care - none of the cromlechs were built by Edward 1st as far as I know.
I'm not even going to get into the argument
In defence of CADW, well the best case for the defence was an approach that we made recently as the North Wales Tourist Guiding Association (NWTGA) to Marilyn Lewis, Director of CADW about our concerns about lack of profile and activity at Segontium and within days we were meeting with CADW staff on site. Since then under the management of Adele Thackray we have seen two seasons of activities at Segontium - this is community engagement, again about involving locals, schools and visitors alike.
Things have changed and things did change quickly. The museum building at Segontium is now under re-construction / re-furbishment. CADW have acted. Segontium is the most important Roman site in North West Wales in terms of its administrative function during the Roman Period and it's long period of use. I rest my case ...... CADW have been open to discussion, willing to engage and those firing the shots from the side-lines have failed to engage - they would rather see Cae'r Gors fail (and even close) rather than be looked after by CADW - a strange attitude indeed. And Yr Ysgwrn run by the Snowdonia National Park Authority - is that any less idealogically sound or unsound - these historic houses of national Welsh importance are hardly sustainable in the harsh world of paying visitors - let's keep them open - let's make use of them - let's not get on to Edward 1st !
I feel that I'm always about to enter the argument ...........
Another consequence of NWTGA activities at Segontium has been the invitation to hold an Open Day at Barclodiad y Gawres as part of CADW's Solstice Weekend so a few of us Blue/Green Badge guides were on hand on the Sunday to welcome visitors to the monument and give them a guided tour.
Because of concerns about vandalism (again almost unbelievable that people can damage somewhere as special as Barclodiad) the site is no loner open without supervised access so the Sunday provides a wonderful opportunity for people to visit the site and boy are we busy. From shortly after 10am right up until 4pm there is a constant stream of visitors. Most know about the event, from social media or the CADW website (or both). We only have a few "passing" visitors which is quite interesting.
We have a real mix of locals and visitors. Some have travelled quite a long way from England just to see the interior of the monument while others are from Llanfaelog and Rhosneigr. A few request the tour in Welsh, some even do the tour twice, through the medium of English and Welsh. All are impressed, amazed and inspired.
We are inundated with questions and at times it takes three guides to hold the fort, especially after lunch when there is a rush of visitors. We started off with a headcount during the morning but by mid-afternoon we could only estimate that we had over 50 visitors.
There was a lot of discussion about the "meaning" of the stones during the day but I felt that most people accepted that there must have been contact with Ireland and the tombs of the Boyne Valley - after all we overlook the sea and look West from Barclodiad. Ireland is not so far away.
We also noticed that the passageway is roughly looking out North and on the skyline we could see Mynydd y Garn - there starts another debate perhaps about what is visible from these monuments.
Again thanks to CADW a brilliant day was had by all and my thanks to the NWTGA Guides for their presence on the day.
We'd been over to Bryn Celli Ddu on the Friday morning as part of the Neolithic Anglesey Literary Tour, (walking tour) see http://youtu.be/TQ2D-3eL7y4
So on the Saturday afternoon it was a real treat to have a "day off" and just wander up to see the activities at the Bryn Celli Open Day organised by CADW.
As I got to Llanddaniel I could see that the carpark was full and along with many others I was sent up to the school playground to park up. In the distance one could see the CADW gazebos and silouettes of people (kids) on the mound. The weather was good but just a bit windy so I put on my coat and ambled up towards Bryn Celli on the path along Afon Braint.
On arriving I'm greeted by Marion who had come on the walk with us on Friday and artist Julie Williams who is responsible for the Standing Stones of Anglesey Exhibition currently showing at Holyhead Library, part of a Gwynedd Archaeological Trust project to engage with Anglesey school pupils to interpret the photographs of Harold Senogles taken in the early 20th century.
The exhibition runs until the end of June and is highly recommended and if you miss Holyhead you can catch the exhibition as it tours North Wales - keep an eye on the GAT twitter @gwyneddarch
The next dates are as follows :
· May, June, July 2013 - Holyhead Library – Launch on Friday 24th May
Contact: Betsan Parri-Williams - firstname.lastname@example.org
· 23rd November (set up 18th/19th) 2013 – 18th January 2014 – Bangor Museum –
Contact: Esther Roberts - EstherRoberts@gwynedd.gov.uk
· 25th January (set-up 20th) – 9th March 2014 – Oriel Mon
Contact: Ian Jones – IanJones@anglesey.gov.uk
Senogles photographed most of the standing stones in the 1930's and his original notebook is now with GAT. He's also categorised the stone types of a lot of the stones which has been really useful because that's usually the most FAQ when we visit sites - I think people think that all stones come from the Preseli sometimes !!!!
In Welsh we talk about "perchnogaeth" in the sense that the community from near and far feel a sense of belonging and that these monuments are relevant in some way. As I talk to Ffion and Mike I keep a watchful eye for any Druids, 'real or imaginary' but I do not spot any (more disappointment - I'm really not going to have a political debate with a Druid this weekend by the looks of things).
As we generally circle the mound we come face to face with stalls, some young chap knapping flint, CADW handing out leaflets, GAT displaying various projects and it takes over an hour to slowly get around the site, gently strolling into the next conversation.
I talk to Sadie from GAT who is responsible for co-ordinating the Anglesey Standing Stones exhibition then have a chat with Roland Flook about a recent discovery of a Roman coin that one of my students from a class made in Degannwy. Then we make our way over to the Ancient Arts stand.
Now I consider Dave Chapman from Ancient Arts to be one of the great visionaries, he's up there with Ken Brassil, maverick maybe, but inspiring always. Talking to either of these guys gives you a charge which lasts for days - in rock'n roll terms they are like Gruff Rhys, Rhys Ifans, Cerys, people who have a vision, people who believe in something, people who make a difference. In a word - inspiring !
Dave has been busy recreating or pecking a stone on similar lines to the spiral carvings at Barclodiad. It has taken a matter of hours to complete which is really interesting as it gives us an insight to how long the stones at Barclodiad took to make. You are talking hours or a day or so rather than weeks of work to complete these carvings - gently pecked with harder stone.
All in all it was a brilliant afternoon, just seeing the site buzzing. As I mentioned on twitter I don't think I've had so many hugs in one day - the archaeological community in North Wales really is soooo friendly. On days like this I realise why I've turned my back on rock'n roll and the shark (not that they were big sharks) infested seas of Welsh Pop Music. My involvement with music always seemed to involve dealing with people who were always looking after No 1, no loyalty, thankless job and you just got on with it, but in all honesty - I do not miss it - I am done with it - I am happy to be a psycho-geographer on the Welsh Landscape. As I say these days' I'd rather be at Bryn Celli than at a gig given the choice. Outside.
Archaeology in recent years has really saved my soul, it has given me a new lease of life and has been welcoming and days like this at Bryn Celli Ddu, all smiles, all questions and discussions are just the best days. Archaeology IS the new rock'n roll. We are on a mission here. Bryn Celli is ours, reclaimed, respected, relevant, from yr Hen Bobl to the right now.
Diolch Ffion and CADW for organising such a brilliant family friendly event. Smiles all round !
Solstice Weekend Anglesey (Ynys Mon) 21-23 June. CADW / Llenyddiaeth Cymru.
A weekend of activities, organised around the Solstice at Bryn Celli Ddu but including a walking tour, story telling, family fun, reconstructions, Druids – ‘real and imaginary’ and Open Days at the mindblowing and wonderful Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres. Yep, it was a good weekend, as Kent V. Flannery said in his 1982 paper ‘The Golden Marshalltown, American Anthropologist 1984, pp 265-278, where he describes archaeology as “the most fun you can have with your pants on”.
Not that I noticed anyone with their pants off, and I didn’t even get to see any Druids ‘real or imaginary’ but over the 3 days it was definitely a case of a lot of people, visitors and locals, as it were “digging the archaeology”. It’s such a positive thing, there is such an interest out there and the overwhelming impression was of people enjoying themselves but also learning, taking an interest, getting to understand the landscape and most importantly of all – asking questions !
I was due to lead a 10 mile walk around ‘Neolithic Anglesey’ on the Friday and I must confess, that the thought of being up at 3-30am to catch the rising of the Sun at 4-30am was a bit too much in view of the demands of the day. So I turned up at Plas Newydd for the start of our tour at the Godly hour of 9-30am. Two of our walking party had attended the Solstice Celebrations, good on ’em – as we say in Welsh – “parch”.I’d witnessed the sun coming down the passage way of Bryn Celli about three years ago with Ken Brassil from the National Museum of Wales, we’d been there a few day early but the effect was pretty much the same. We were the only two there on that occasion but next year I must try and get over to witness the celebrations and suss out these Druids ‘real or imaginary’.
Our Literary Neolithic Anglesey walk on the Friday had been organised by Llenyddiaeth Cymru / Literature Wales and I must confess when Bronwen first contacted me to do this job I was so pleased but also they described me as "Legendary Punk Rock Musician, Antiquarian and Author". So good was the job description that I have since used it on my twitter account.
Within Plas Newydd we have two Neolithic Monuments, the cromlech on the lawn which we discussed as more than likely authentic and then the chamber of 'Bryn yr Hen Bobl' which I always describe as having the best name for a cromlech - in the World ! 'Yr Hen Bobl' are the old folk - our ancestors - it makes sense.
According to early guide books produced by Plas Newydd, Humphry Repton the landscape artist had noted the cromlech as belonging to the Druids and it had been his intention to leave a marble plaque by the stones explaining the history of the stones. This was during the 1790's so it was well before anybody realised that the Druids came almost 3,000 years later, but it does suggest that the cromlech was there originally and that it's not a folly constructed by Repton for the Bayly family.
Bryn yr Hen Bobl is the only burial chamber on Anglesey with the mound or cairn remaining - which I think DOES give us a clue perhaps as to the cairns or mounds surrounding or covering other cromlechs. If you visit sites such as Carneddau Hengwm in Ardudwy both monuments up there are covered by stone cairns but the obvious examples on Mon such as Bodowyr have long been denuded probably by agricultural activity over the centuries.
Later in the day we visit Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres both of which have reconstructed mounds. There is some debate as to how much of a cromlech was covered and when the may have been covered or closed - we certainly had an on-going debate throughout the day. Again it has to be about asking questions. The great thing about our day is that we were accompanied by Fiona Collins a story teller (see pic above) and also two of the party were archaeologists - so the discussions certainly flowed.
At Bryn Celli Ddu we had a no-show from the Druids. part of me was disappointed because I really did want to try and find out more about where they are coming from if not going to. It's a bit of a struggle because even if we do rightly acknowledge the 'hen bobl' in all this it's still a long stretch from 3000 BC to 300BC. You see Punk Rock taught us to be critical and to challenge - I am no hippy that's for sure, but then I'm close to the Earth, I understand all that, it was handed down to us from my mother and our grandmothers - and again they were no hippies but they understood plants, herbs etc it was just day to day stuff for them.
We did a good bit of walking between Bryn Celli Ddu and Caer Leb and eventually jumped on a very welcomed coach organised by Literature Wales to get us up the final stretch to Barclodiad. At the end of the afternoon we were treated to a story by Fiona and to cap it all she had also prepared chocolate cake for us all - that was a pretty good ending to a pretty good day.
One interesting detour was to check out the cup mark stones near Bryn Celli having first cleared it with the Landowner.
This is the nearby rock that Julian Cope in Modern Antiquarian suggests may have been a 'gorsedd' it overlooks the burial chamber and has around 6-10 visible cupmarks on it's surface. We did end up debating if this may have been a funerary platform for bodies before they entered the burial chamber. Obviously there is another on-going debate about cupmarks as they appear on standing stones (Trelech), capstones as in Bachwen, Clynnog (110 of them) and also on nearby rocks as is the case here.
Friday, 28 June 2013
Kenffig October 21-25
I hook up again with Dr Iestyn Jones, Gerry and the Archaeology Wales / Trisgell team for a week excavating at Kenffig dunes on the site of what appears to be an Iron Age hillfort with a couple of banks and ditches. This is the same team as we worked with at Llwydfaen (see below) and it was good to see them all again. You do make good friends with people you spend days with in the bottom of muddy trenches !
I end up in a trench with was cut into a clear circular feature that we could see on the ground and as the week progressed it became more and more possible that this was the base of a C16th windmill. We had a load of local volunteers from the Kenffig Archaeology society and many mentioned a painting from the Margam collection (now at the National Museum) showing a windmill on this very spot albeit painted from a great distance.
First job was to get rid of the sand covering the site, and there was plenty of it ......
Second job then was to clean up the site and pretty soon it became clear that we were getting lots of debris, mortar, bits of stone and again all conforming to the circular shape that we could see above ground. The question at this point is always - what are we going to get under the debris - will we find solid walls for example - as we dug down we got more sand !
As we kept going down we eventually hit the original soil level, a dark reddish till which was certainly pretty solid as a foundation - but we did not find any real solid walls or structures. We cut 3 sections into the circle and at all 3 points hit a cut into the till - we were therefore looking at a huge circular pit with a level floor which had been cut into the till - that would have been hard work for those boys in the C16th for sure ! Was this then the base for the windmill that we had found ?
Elsewhere on site we came across a couple of post holes and what could well have been a stone filled pit and a few sling-stones which confirms the Iron Age / Romano-British period for the hillfort - all typical Iron Age stuff
The outer banks and ditches were just huge and so much sand on top but there they were ....
So definitely multi-period in the sense we have a windmill sited within an earlier hillfort but no real evidence of the "lost castle" of Iestyn ap Gwrgant
http://wbo.llgc.org.uk/en/s-IEST-APG-1045.html which is what the locals were really looking for I suspect, but then we might have put our trenches in the wrong place ???? Maybe next time ......
I've never seen a site so busy with volunteers and visitors, we got a visit from a previous Miss Wales (sorry missed the chance of a photo as I was down a trench in the windmill), one of Howard Marks's old buddies visited with mince pies and truly hilarious tales. Every time I looked up from the trench there would be more experts telling us where things were and why we were in the wrong place - bless 'em they were truly enthusiastic and it's good to see the whole community coming to visit a dig - it was a true event / spectacle - positive, inspiring, at times funny and always, always exciting - see it on S4C sometime in 2014.
Mynydd Rhiw Visit 9th August.
Those of you familiar with this Blog will be aware of the Bangor University project at Meillionydd double ring work enclosure on the Western side of Mynydd Rhiw which has been excavated over four seasons under the directorship of Dr Kate Waddington and Prof Raimund Karl of Bangor University. Meillionydd along with Castell Odo (the better known double ringwork in this area) form part of a concentration of similar earthworks on the Llyn dating from the Late Bronze Age c900/800 BC to the later Iron Age c300/200 BC.
Margaret Dunn (Dating Old Welsh Houses) www.datingoldwelshhouses.co.uk one time resident of Rhiw had very kindly offered to guide Kate and myself around some of the other sites on Mynydd Rhiw.
Margaret @ Conion
We were particularly interested in visiting the double ringworks at Conion and Castell Caeron in order to compare the sites to Meillionydd and to get a better understanding or feel for these other sites - all on the slopes of Mynydd Rhiw.
We meet at Rhiw Village Hall, the site of a recent lecture by Ray, Kate and myself on the Meillionydd excavations - one of our "triple-header lectures" where I give an overview in the Welsh Language rather than a simultaneous translation - these lectures are always well attended and great fun.
We jump into Margaret's car, leave the tarmac road and drive fearlessly up a track - she's used to it having lived here, and arrive safely, if bumpily, at out first site, Conion. What a wonderful site, overlooking Porth Neigwl (hell's Mouth) and the two banks are clearly visible as we cross the field.
On first impressions this is quite a complicated site, the earth and stone banks are visible enough, better preserved than Meillionydd (less ploughing) but there are a jumble of earthworks attached to the ringwork, one enclosure apparently tagged on to the NE side - there is a lot going on here I suspect and not all from the same period.
There are medieval lynchets crossing the field and another enclosure in the Northern corner of the field - we have no choice but to embrace multi-period landscapes up here - this is well and truly brilliant - very O.G.S Crawford - what a landscape !
Our next port of call was another enclosure (not a double ringwork) at Tyddyn Castell. The tyddyn (small holding) is sadly ruined but the field respects the banks of the original (presumably Iron Age or Romano-British enclosure) - you can see the modern dry stone walling on top of the banks of the original enclosure - the new has respected the line of the old - makes sense but nevertheless it's a great example.
Tyddyn Castell :
Part of the south west corner /bank at Tyddyn Castell with modern walling on top of the bank
Before we leave Rhiw, we look at a possible cromlech capstone at Tyn y Fron - I am not sure, there are no visible stones under the capstone - we need to check this with GAT.
The search for Castell Caeron involves a bit more wandering but we soon find the two banks on the northern side of the enclosure with a mass of what appears to be collapsed stones in a ditch between the two banks. This northern side is overlooking the hill slope so stone collapse would be expected - again certainly here, these are more like ramparts, but the southern side of the enclosure on the gentler slope again resembles what we see at Meillionydd and again in parts modern walls have respected the original banks.
Castell Caeron ;
Our afternoon comes to a close at the wonderful Caffi Grug in Botwnnog for a well earned cup of tea and a snack. Our gratitude to Margaret Dunn for showing us around and sharing her vast knowledge.
Mantell Aur Yr Wyddgrug / Mold Cape, Wrecsam Museum 7th August.
Second honour of the day was being invited to the opening night of the Mold Cape at Wrecsam Museum. The cape was found in 1833 (which reminds us that it's almost 90 years later that we have a National Museum in Wales in terms of the British Museum being the owners / curators of the cape) at a site known as Bryn yr Ellyllon near Wyddgrug. The cape was found on a badly preserved skeleton within a stone-lined grave and the Bronze Age date of the cape is now thought to be EBA (1900-1600 BC).
Apart from the cape being a wonderful piece of art and craftsmanship - it also puts North Wales firmly within the centre of Bronze Age activity. It is suggested that the cape was worn by a woman of high status or distinction within the community. There are brilliant reconstruction drawings from 1953 showing the cape on the shoulders of a blond haired man - interpretations change !
The cape is on display until 14 September.
The Launch :
Pat West (Oriel Ynys Mon) and Nest Thomas (Gwynedd Museum) view the cape :
Wrecsam Museum :
Eisteddfod Dinbych / Amgueddfa Cymru 7th August.
On the Wednesday of the Eisteddfod the National Museum of Wales have put together a panel to discuss the role of the Museum (and museums in general) in the C21st. It's the day the Mold Cape is going on display in Wrecsam Museum, it's as close as we get to Archaeology Day at the Eisteddfod and without doubt, the Mold Cape is certainly hovering in everybody's consciousness !!!
Along with Gareth Miles, a long standing Welsh political activist (possibly communist) and Sian Melangell (editor of Taliesyn) I have been invited to join the panel.
This is quite an honour, I was certainly flattered to be invited and absolutely looking forward to taking part. Gareth, Sian and myself are gathered together before going on to the stage at Pabell y Cymdeithasau by Mari Gordon from Amgueddfa Cymru, she will "chair" and we have a quick discussion about where we want the discussion to go, or at least what we would like to cover and then it's off we go.
I'd found a quote by Dr Eurwyn William (RCAHM) where he suggests "in Wales there are no natives; we are all incomers". This is my opening line, it's taken from 'Discovered in Time, Treasures From Early Wales' (National Museum Wales Books 2011).
Eurwyn's point being that an understanding and appreciation of objects or finds ranging from the Neanderthal teeth from Pontnewydd Cave right through to the Llywelyn ab Iorwerth corbel from Degannwy Castle will equip us better to understand our relationship and sense of belonging to and with this bit of mountainous and coastal land on the west of the British Isles.
"Us" meaning the people of Wales, those of us who live here, we may have been here for generations or we may be new arrivals - but we are all people of Wales if we live here.
Pretty soon however, and with a degree of predictability, the discussion arrives at the question of the permanent home of the Mold Cape - should it be returned to Wales ?
No prizes for guessing Gareth's view on this and I suspect most of the audience. I discuss the case of 'Meini Pemprys' the early Christian gravestones of Gwynhoedl and Edern found in a field in Llannor and "returned" to Llyn following a period at the Ashmolean in Oxford following pressure from Cyfeillion Llyn and R.S Thomas amongst them.
For more details see : http://www.oriel.org.uk/en/home/history
This is potentially a very complicated issue and very emotive and you could sense that the audience saw this in black & white. In the case of the Pemprys Stones they had long been taken down from display at the Ashmolean and the now stand proud in the entrance to Plas Glyn-y-Weddw. Who could argue against that ?
In the case of the Mold Cape, complicated in that it went to the British Museum before the National Museum opened in the 1920's. Could there be a case for it being returned to Wales - that is to Cardiff ? - probably !
My view, it probably has to be on a case by case merit that any decisions are made. I'm all for Welsh objects being at the British Museum or in any museum worldwide for that matter, there are after all plenty of objects that we never ever get to see in boxes in storerooms, but there has to be a debate about those priority objects that should belong, and should be on show, in the National Museum of Wales.
Within our short session, 40 minutes or so, we covered a lot of ground. We needed more time. The audience certainly had plenty of questions. This is a debate that should be continued .......
Meanwhile on the Maes, Ken Brassil had begun a trail excavation 1.5m by 1.5m square to get the archaeology visible, get some people digging and the Eisteddfodwyr looking !!!!
Interestingly we were only a 100 yards or so away from the site of the early medieval cemetery of Tandderwen which was located without a hint of irony beneath the bright pink Eisteddfod Pavilion.
I wondered if the present day Gorsedd Druids realised the significance of this site under their Pink Tent ?
'Heno' S4C @ Llanbeblig excavations
The Heno item went out on S4C last night and you can view at around 27 minutes on CLIC http://www.s4c.co.uk/clic/e_level2.shtml?series_id=511152681
Elin Fflur with Sadie from GAT :
Llwydfaen Final Day, August 2nd.
First job of the day is to have a look at what might have been a partition slot within the southern side of the building. It's full of burnt daub, all very soft with specs of charcoal and bright orange burnt daub and produces quite a few Roman nails and 4 pieces of pottery - all from the same pot I think.
It's a case of careful troweling and getting the fill out - it's sorted within a couple of hours, I'm happy that we have got the slot sorted.
It runs up to the inner side of the wall - more of that in a minute
Now then back to the wall that had caused us so much frustration on Thursday. We are now pretty clear that there are solid foundations for the wall from other sections of the site / building. The floor is covered by a very hard layer of clay - too hard to trowel so we mattock through this layer - and here it is - huge foundations - as someone said on site - enough for a cathedral !
We would have got there eventually anyway, but as it's the last day, Jeff and myself get to work on the South western section of the wall, mattocks first then hard troweling around the boulders. We now have these foundations at various points around the building - these are substantial foundations.
Iestyn, Jerry and Beaver all have a go at what looks like a well, and by the end of the day they have pulled out huge stones and gone down some way but still no bottom. We have to back fill at 5pm. We leave a 2013 five pence piece between two flat slabs - so that future archaeologists will know where we got to, before replacing all the stones in less than 10 mins !
Iestyn recording the well :
Today we are joined by George Smith from GAT and George has brought his trowel ! George is probably one of the most experienced archaeologists I know and within minutes you know that he has understood the site and is advising us on what to do (I have dug with George at Llanfair PG and Tai Cochion but Beaver and Jeff go way back with George). It's good to have him on site and he ends up planning sections within a couple of hours that would have taken many of us all day .....he really was the cavalry arriving - we got off at around 5030pm rather than 9-30pm !!!!
Toby Driver (Royal Commission) who found the site by aerial photography pops by to have a look, it must be really interesting for Toby to have archaeological evidence to go with the pictures !!
Matthew from C,R Archaeolgy also visits us on site and Matthew and myself troop over to the motte across the road after the dig ends. This may be an early Welsh Castle ? I'm grateful to Matthew for showing me around - it's a site I have not visited before, and a site I know very little about.
Earlier in the day during tea break some of the TV crew had been discussing this general lack of knowledge about Welsh Castles - case in point. Matthew talks about exploring the motte further with some geophys - great idea !
A bizzare twist / highlight was Jeff finding a broken piece of a polished axe (Neolithic) amongst the foundation boulders in the South eastern wall. This has to be a coincidence - unless these Roman folk had actually found the axe ???? It would seem to be a coincidence - I know some of the Caerhun Friends group had found a Neolithic axe near Afon Conwy not far from Caerhun - so again we know that the Neolithic folk are knocking around the area.
Conclusion - well, it has to be "great little dig", we got a lot done in 5 days, probably proved it was Roman rather than Norman. The TV crew were great, the archaeological team brilliant and the actual programme should be on S4C sometime in 2014.
Llwydfaen - what's going on ? August 1st.
Thursday August 1st the Sun is back out, tea break is a good time to discuss how things are progressing and considering how hot it got out there on site the tea itself was pretty good as well - definitely appreciated.
Thoughts so far :
So we started with the possibility of this being an early Norman Church, possibly unfinished but the finds so far (couple of coins, pottery and slate) suggest that this may well be a Roman building. Caerhun is about a mile to the South so we know that the Romans were in the area.
The apsidal end of the building could suggest a temple / early church ? - but by today (August 1st) it would seem that the apse could even be a later addition to the original rectangular building - again note the question marks ???
We are joined today by Bill and Mary Jones from Dolwyddelan Historical Society who have done over 10 years work on Maredydd ap Ieuan's house at Penamnen.
Bill is good on his slates so we sit down and discuss the possibility that the pieces of slates we have found are indeed Roman roofing slates. They have the off centre square holes and we have a bag full of square hand made Roman nails - Bill seems happy.
They are thinner than the Tremadoc Roman roof slates but Bill explains that this is due to the nature of the slate rather than any craftsmanship or style.
Our slate conversation is filmed for S4C, they seemed to like it, I hope it makes it into the final programme rather than the cutting room floor as they used to say - obviously there is no film on the editing room floor in this digital age but this is important - many of us are descendent's of quarrymen and the fact that the Romans used local slate pushes that story back at least 1800 years.
We also have a tray of Roman pottery, a few bits of Samian, but it really does push the pendulum towards Roman rather than Norman; you may spot bits of flint in the tray as well.
Beaver, Bill, Mary and myself are still trying to define the southern wall of the building. I have a frustrating day because it's certainly not clear. Beaver hacks down to foundation level and finds the fill for the wall foundation - the rest of us are still probably working outside the wall line and will probably not now have enough time to fully excavate.
But Beaver's test pit gives a clue at least. We may well have been going at things too gently but on the other hand you do have to take care not to hack things out .... one of those days .... because over in Trench 1 they have large un-missable boulders at foundation level - easy !!!!
Wall foundation visible in Beaver's test pit :
The large boulders (foundation) next to the apse in Trench 1 - as I said, easy by comparison to what we had !
The southern side (apse) at the end of Day 4
Llwydfaen - What are we finding ?
Here's a short clip of Trench 2 - we are looking for the rear wall (North side) of our building
As usual we get bits of flint, this is a small blade - found in the pit but it's far earlier, nothing to do with the building - it just proves man was around Dyffryn Conwy during prehistory !!
Archaeology Can Be Fun !
Day 3 at Llwydfaen and there's no other way of really saying this - it's chucking it down. Carol my old mate from Meillionydd and myself have a "who is the muddiest competition" and decide to pose for the camera. It's wet and we are pretty muddy and to top it all soil is blowing everywhere as we chuck stuff on to the spoilheap so it's like being in a wet muddy sandstorm -
We get on with it, smile and have a laugh to keep our spirits up
We also have some good banter with the S4C crew filming. Morgan the Director joins in to do a bit of digging and joins in the 'piss taking', I've always maintained that a sense of humour is important. We take our archaeology deeply seriously, we take our filming seriously, but watch out, if there's any chance of being caught out or winding someone up, then it's going to happen.
We have used yellow spray paint to mark out edges for our trench extensions and pretty soon any stone with yellow paint that we pick up from the side has been dubbed 'Romano-British yellow ware' - and we egg each other on to stick a piece in the finds tray.
The cracks are showing (happy S4C crew) :
Llwydfaen, Tal-y Cafn. Day 2, 30th July.
We get on with cleaning and troweling around the apsidal end of the building and slowly but surely things begin to take form. It's surprising what you achieve within a few hours of troweling. It's now looking more convincing, more like a building
As we clean Trench 1 we come across a feature filled with stones, not sure what it is but it's definitely 'something' as we say, so we clean around this as well.
By Day 3 we find that this is probably a pit filled in part with pieces of 'dressed stone', some are fairly obvious in the fill but Jerry does a section of the feature and turns up quite a few dressed pieces of stone - all pretty similar.
So far we have nothing really like this from the wall of the building but this pit is pretty close to the South Western corner of the building. Had we found similar stones in the wall we may have been able to suggest that the pit was later and had stone from the wall in it - this is probably still a possibility - we shall see over the coming days.
Llwydfaen, Tal-y Cafn.
It's been a busy night, loads of phone calls to sort out more archaeologists to join us, car battery died, my dad came round to repair my record deck and we ended up watching Pawb a'i Farn (S4C) from Anglesey, so this Blog is a bit of a quickie just to get something up about our first day at Llwydfaen. I will give it a bit more care and attention tomorrow evening.
Llwydfaen was spotted as crop marks in 2006 - and interpreted as a medieval church - possibly early Norman dating from Hugh of Avranches's incursions into North Wales :
From Llwydfaen Farm you can see Bodnant, Lord Aberconwy's House just across the Conwy, it looks lower from this angle or maybe it just looks more elevated from Bodnant looking towards Tal-y-fan. I know Bodnant Garden so well from my Tour Guiding activities.
I know this bit of Dyffryn Conwy pretty well too, because we are not far downstream from the Roman Fort at Caerhun. What a wonderful place to excavate. Another week another view.
Beaver and Jeff (the usual GAT gang are with us) but this dig is being filmed for S4C and is directed by Dr Iestyn Jones from Archaeoleogy Wales so we also meet some new faces, all of them very nice and the atmosphere is very good, everybody very friendly and everybody quite excited.
We have a late call (11am) so they can get filming done before we excavate, then things get started.
We were expecting masonry, solid walls, even dressed stone, straight edges .... what we found was slightly different but we did hit wall structures so there was relief that the trench was bang on in the right place and that we were finding "archaeology" pretty quickly
Day 1 we go from this about 11-30am ....
To this by about 2pm
to this by 4-30pm ......
You can make out the shape of an apsidal end to a building, which shows up clearly in the aerial photos - I think we were all pretty happy to have reached this point by 5pm. It needs a bit more cleaning around the stones but we are close to defining at least this part of the wall - to whatever the structure may be.
Meillionydd 24th July.
Final day for me, I'm back on 'Ein Treftadaeth' office days for the rest of the week for CADW / Gwynedd / Conwy Council working on a Business Tool Kit on the 'Princes of Gwynedd' Project, so it really is the end of digging at Meillionydd for this season. But we will be back (certainly hope to be) so it's see you all next year.
Sure I will se Ray Karl and Kate Waddington often enough but the diggers (students) I may never see again, who knows ?
I'm still working on the U shaped ditch, which has stones in the middle of the fill which have to be photographed before being removed.
Once final cleaning is done and the edges and bottom of the ditch are defined it's section planning time !
Actually, this season at Meillionydd has actually got me into planning and drawing .... I'm still really a 'digger' but I am thankful for the opportunity of re-aquainting myself with my drawing skills.
We may have more metal objects deposited in the ditch fill (near ditch terminal) this piece could be a horse bit or iron ring ( I joke that I have found bits of the chariot). see ring centre of photograph below stone.
Another piece of Mynydd Rhiw stone comes out of the ditch fill, this time a flake. I do love Mynydd Rhiw stone .... and one day, we really will have to write a report collating all the Mynydd Rhiw stuff in one place. Maybe that could be a project for Cymdeithas Archaeoleg a Hanes Llyn ?
Conclusion, brilliant, brilliant excavation, great, great team, a real pleasure to be there and probably one of the best places in the World, Pen Llyn with views over 'Enlli'.
Meillionydd 23d July.
After a week at Llanbeblig and the Gwyl Arall weekend it was nice to return to Meillionydd - to find that the roundhouse had gone !!!!! They had been busy and had cleared the roundhouse and started clearing the drainage gully through the round house. The site certainly looked different, I was a little saddened to see the roundhouse gone I must admit, but that's archaeology for you - we dig things up and ultimately destroy as we dig and record.
I'm posted back to the U shaped ditch that I helped clean on the 11th July (see below) and this time it's our job to section the ditch and get the fill out. I do enjoy this process of sorting out 'features' as the archaeologist call them so I get to work and try to get some edges defined and then slowly pick away at the dark stony earth that fills the ditch.
We discuss the stratigraphy of the site. This U shaped ditch is possibly associated with a row of postholes just further up the site, which could have been a palisade or fence. The U shaped ditch later silted up and at that time it was cut by a quarry hollow to provide material for the outer bank, so we know it must be earlier than the outer bank. The fact that the roundhouse then stood on top of the U shaped ditch and quarry hollow, and also cut into the outer bank, makes the roundhouse the latest phase of this part of the site.
Simple - well it is if you spend enough time on site and this year I have been very fortunate to be able to spend a bit more time at Meillionydd as all my Archaeology Classes have finished for the Summer so I'm free to dig most days.
We get a piece of Mynydd Rhiw stone from the fill of the U shaped ditch but it's not worked as such.
Section close to completion
We may also have found very badly corroded bits of iron in the ditch, and as we are close to the ditch terminal this could have been the place where objects or even burials may have been deposited back in the Iron Age . My bits were seriously corroded but Pete next door had a few more baggable pieces. We also have some decomposed stone so some bits might well have been natural but we all agreed Pete's piece did look good as the last remains of an object.
This was all that was left in my section
So all in all a good day on site !
The gang at tea break :
A Roman Ramble 21st July
'Gwyl Arall' had billed my Roman Tour of Caernarfon as a 'Roman Ramble' - brilliant, as it sounds very psycho-geographical.
What a difference a day makes, six for the lecture yesterday - I have 30 customers today - almost more than is comfortable for guiding. They are all up for a walk. 99% Welsh speaking but we do the whole thing bilingual of course.
I basically do a context tour today - we look at Edward 1st location for the castle (or rather the site of the original motte & bailey)and by the time we get up to Segontium we are familiar with the rivers Seiont and Cadnant and the Caernarfon landscape.
I tend to work the southern half of Segontium first, we do the main gate, the view over to Tre'r Ceiri hillfort and the bathouses - again this is the stuff of context.
The questions are good and the customers seemed happy despite the heat - they sit on the slope near the bath houses which gave them all a bit of a rest.
We cross the road, discuss the plans for the museum building and we do more context - we do Tacitus and the Druids and we do the recent excavations at Tai Cochion before moving on to the even more recent excavations at Llanbeblig (see below)
We are over an hour already so I give them 5 minutes or so to wander around Segontium then we head off down to Hen Walia and finally wind our way down past Ysgol Jones Bach towards Segontium Terrace and back to the Maes and Palace Print.
At the end they clapped, which was very sweet.
I'm happy - the Segontium mission continues to gather force - so many locals had not been there before !!!
I need some tea and get dragged by Osian form Cymdeithas yr Iaith to the Castle Hotel where we meet Welsh Pop Legends Geraint Lovgreen and Hefin Elis (Edward H) and end up discussing T H Parry Williams and Rhyd Ddu.
We are all off to see Geraint Jarman in the castle (Caernarfon Castle) this evening - what a great day - Diolch i Gwyl Arall !!!!
@ Hen Walia :
On Wednesday 17th July we launched Cymdeithas Archaeoleg a Hanes Llyn at y Ganolfan, Nefyn. I estimated over 50 people turned up including such luminaries as Frances Lynch and Margaret Dunn.
Presentations were given by Richard Suggett on finding old Welsh Houses, the excavations at Porth Dinllaen by Iwan Parry of GAT and a very interesting paper by Tegid Williams on 'Welsh Language within Archaeology'.
The audience were invited to contribute ideas and it was agreed that a 2 week consultation period be given to the draft Constitution before final decision at the next meeting - early September ?
Follow on twitter @ArchLLyn
On Saturday 20th I gave a Welsh Language lecture in Caernarfon Library on the subject of "Beth yw Archaeoleg ?" as part of Gwyl Arall. Numbers were very low, about 6 and I was reminded of Tegid's paper that the Welsh speakers have historically mostly gone for Literature, Poetry and written culture rather than material culture - could he be right ?
Having said that it was 1-30pm in the afternoon, scorching weather and Dr John Davies lecturing in another venue down the road on the 'Old North (Gwynedd)'.
Gwyl Arall is very much a hip, cool, literary, youngish 30's-40's bent Welsh Festival, and on a positive note I had a high percentage of under 40's in the audience for my talk, which for lectures on archaeology has to be regarded as a good thing. I was reminded of early Anhrefn gigs, you just got one with it, if there is only one person there they get the same show, and after the lecture they all stayed behind for at least 20 minutes asking questions.
We covered everything from human skeletons at Llanbedrgoch right through to FWA graffiti and Henry Wills's pioneering research on WWII pillboxes during the early 1980's.
It was very enjoyable, we were well looked after by the Library staff and the Gwyl Arall volunteers ....
Current Archaeology (no69) / Wills :
FWA graffiti at Bala Lake Railway Station :
19th July Llanbeblig
We're done and dusted. Beaver, Iwan and myself fill the transit with wheel barrows and shovels and take the first load back to GAT HQ.
A few on site finishing off planning. Feels like the last day but the atmosphere is good - we have been blessed with the weather and the community volunteers have had a taste of archaeology and some valuable experience.
Some locals turn up and discuss previous excavations at Segontium that they have been researching at Gwynedd Archives from old newspapers - it's always cool to see locals getting into the history of their area, in Welsh we always talk about "perchnogaeth" which really means that they have ownership / an involvement and a stake in their own history, sites, Ancient Monuments etc. This is fundamental stuff, community engagement - GAT are doing a good job and the link up with the Segontium Open Days last weekend (July 13-14) was definitely a good thing.
I can't help but feel very positive - things are getting through to people within the community !
The gang on the last day :
Gritstone from Gareth's pit :
Done and dusted :
I noticed when we got back to GAT that the metal posts had Corinthian designs (or a variation of)
Next week I'm back to Meillionydd - for a few days and then on the 29th Beaver, Jeff and myself head off to Llwydfaen in Dyffryn Conwy with Dr Iestyn Jones (Archaeology Wales) and cameras from S4C.
18th July Llanbeblig
We're getting close to the end of the dig. Most of the day is spent cleaning around features to see if there is anything else left to excavate and to tidy up for planning and photographing.
Hosepipe comes in handy because it's so dry on site - a bit of water sure does bring out the colours - (for around 10 mins) before it dries up again.
Elin Fflur sends message to say the 'Heno' programme will probably go out sometime next week on S4C.
Only one school visit today so feels quiet on site.
View from spoil heap :
Volunteers planning :
17th July Llanbeblig
S4C cameras are on site in the morning as 'Heno' programme films an item on the Llanbeblig dig. Pupils from Ysgol Santes Helen are on site and every digger who speaks Welsh is filmed and interviewed - so it's all exciting and part of GAT's recent media campaign to get a bit more press and media on it's activities with which I am involved.
During the filming we find a small piece of Roman pottery which adds a bit to the excitement. 'Heno' presenter is Welsh popstar Elin Fflur.
Sadie (GAT) with Elin Fflur
Sara with a find - a stone from an oven ? showing signs of burning and possible use / man made hole ?
The stone close up
Beaver with figure of 8 shaped oven ?
16th July Llanbeblig
Back on site with the GAT gang, Beaver, Jeff, Brian etc - it's always good to be back with those guys. Spend the day with teenagers and volunteers troweling back an area to check out if anything shows up. Dave Hopewell watering the surface with hosepipe really brings out the colours and helps cut through that hard old clay.
Very dry. Very hot. But as always such a privilege to get to work on these sites. Anita and Sadie from GAT have arranged school visits so we are joined constantly by a line of very young diggers in fluorescent jackets and teachers keeping a watchful eye.
Tomorrow we have 'Heno' cameras coming out to site from S4C which will be cool, so we should have the dig on the Teli 7pm tomorrow evening (17th July)
The interviewer will be Welsh Language popstar Elin Fflur.
Young volunteers in the hot sun -
Anita and Sadie ready for the next batch of school pupils
Festival of British Archaeology Weekend 13-14 July
On the Sunday I was back on Tour Guiding duties around the Segontium site for Adele from CADW. We took quite a few of the groups to the south side of the road to see the bath house and the SW Entrance. It was also handy to avoid the Roman re-enactors shouting, something that even I with my loud clear voice could not compete with.
As usual people from all backgrounds come on the tour, locals and visitors and it's really interesting these days how so many seemed to have heard of the event through social media.
As usual we have good questions and good discussions, each tour is different but the aim is to give them an overall context adding in the recent GAT excavations at Tai Cochion which certainly suggests that there is trade between the agricultural lands of Anglesey and the Fort at Segontium by the early C2nd - Tai Cochion is almost visible across the Menai Strait from Segontium (it's just behind Twthill)
We also mention the Llanbeblig excavations currently under way and the GAT Report http://www.heneb.co.uk/llanbeblig/llanbebligmain.html
Andrew Davisdson from GAT is busy taking visitors up to the dig site at Cae Top. I have a lovely discussion with Andrew and Frances Lynch about all sorts of sites in Ardudwy. I have further chats with CADW staff, Gwynedd Museum staff, the Ancient Footprints staff, CBA and of course the GAT staff - really brilliant way of spending a Sunday, as I was definitely creaking a bit after the week's digging up at Meillionydd.
From 1pm to 4pm it's non stop guiding.
The Saturday at Meillionydd was an open day as part of The Festival of British Archaeology so we were kept busy with a constant flow of visitors. A lot of people have seen the posters or flyers, many are return visitors who have been coming to visit us on site for the past 4 years. The other encouraging aspect is the strong support from the local community.
I'm kept busy with Welsh Language guided tours of the site but it is really a testament to the vision of Kate Waddington and Ray Karl who have from day one at Meillionydd always emphasised the importance of community outreach and have always made it clear that visitors are always welcomed on site.
I decided to have a look at the outer face of the outer bank just to try and clear some of the collapse and silted soil around the base of the bank, really just to give the diggers some idea where the line is between silt and bank proper - so that they can expose the bank when they return on Monday - it's also something I can get on with during the day in-between visits without the digging getting too complicated.
Everybody else on the team are busy planning (in between visitors).
Highlight of the day were Amy's friends from Bangor University turning up with a cool box of ice cream (choc ices) - really never tasted so good ! Bless 'em on such a hot day.
Kate and Ray an team checking plans :
Dafydd Felin Uchaf getting ready for some Iron Age smelting @ Felin Uchaf over the weekend.
July 12th Meillionydd
A very busy day with visitors. Ysgol Crud y Werin, Aberdaron are with us by 9-30am. These kids are very sharp indeed, they have brilliant questions, show an interest and within an hour they have found 3 x artefacts that the archaeologists had missed ! That is 3 more than we have had all week - YAC's indeed - give them a trowel !!!!! They are sons and daughters of Pen Llyn farmers so they definitely got it and understood what's going on. Listening to them speaking such excellent Welsh made me feel very proud of our local "small" Schools.
Showing the pupils some of the finds always goes down well - here is a lead spindle-whorl (one of two that we have found on site). In Welsh spindle whorl is 'troell gwerthyd' :
July 11th Llanbeblig
I've been doing some media work for GAT recently so on my way home from Meillionydd I popped over to the dig at Llanbeblig next to Ysgol Hendre just to see how they were getting on and that everything had gone OK with the various media and press visits that day.
Quite a large area has been opened up to see if we can find any more evidence of the small ovens that signified the Roman Construction Camp dated c 77AD where the soldiers would have camped while building Segontium and also for further evidence of the Medieval Cemetery that were found during construction of the school. See : http://www.heneb.co.uk/llanbeblig/llanbebligmain.html
July 11th Meillionydd
Another day cleaning the roundhouse. I get to trowel in the quarry scoop to clarify the position of the U shaped ditch that encircled the site before it became a double-ringwork - so this U shaped ditch is in effect an early phase of enclosure here. It would seem that at sometime before the U shaped ditch this was an unenclosed settlement - so Meillionydd follows a similar pattern to the sequence of building at Castell Odo.
If you are not archaeologists this is going to be so "anal" but it is so satisfying being able to clean something up on site so that it is clearly defined and there for all to make out.
U shaped ditch is the darker soil next to the yellow/brown natural clay, roundhouse outer wall just visible and quarry hollow is the bank to left of the U shaped ditch (dark soil)
July 10th Meillionydd
Cleaning the roundhouse, defining the walls, looking for features and postholes. The 8m diameter roundhouse is cut into the outer bank at Meillionydd - suggesting maybe that the "importance" or significance of the bank may have changed - and certainly the roundhouse has to be later as it cuts into the outer bank.
Everybody on site is now troweling proper archaeology !
July 9th Meillionydd.
Ray with Celtic Studies Summer School 9/7/13.
To be absolutely honest, I have spent the last few years on any archaeological dig trying my best to avoid any drawing
/ planning and just keep to a plain and simple troweling or digging routine, so when Ray asked me to plan the bank I thought ..........., well you can guess.
But, here's the thing - I really, really got into it and worked with Amy one of the Bangor Uni Students and we got the whole drawing done by the end of the day. We planned the outer bank, drew in all the stones and even planned the stuff that had fallen down from the bank into the outer quarry hollow, which was basically a scoop to provide material for the bank.
So I thank Ray Karl for dragging me away from my troweling comfort zone and getting me back into a bit of planning !!!
Amy planning :
Ray with Nefyn 'Age Well' : 8/7/13.
July 8th Meillionydd
Site visits are very important and on Monday afternoon I bring up my WEA / Coleg Harlech class who are studying Local History up to the site. They attend Y Ganolfn, Nefyn every Monday afternoon as part of activities organised by Age Well Cymru.
We spend an hour and a half on site before they notice they want a cup of tea - which goes to show that people digging, viewing the roundhouse, talking to archaeologists is all exciting stuff.
Visitors number go up by 15.
July 5 Meillionydd
The plastic sheeting is removed from the roundhouse and we get to cleaning up the site. I'm troweling a cobbled road surface which seems to run between the two entrances. This is basically cobble stones placed in the most muddy places ie the roadway into the site.
Parts of the surface are well trodden (metalled) but I get the impression that there are layers of stones, which have been added to the road surface over time which makes sense. Ray thought that we may even have ruts created by carts - yet to be proved but a possibility. It's a case of cleaning in between stones, exposing the cobbling and a gentle brush to get rid of excess dirt. The surface shows up well. After 6 hours troweling it's nice and clear, (see front of pic - roundhouse in background)
One minute clip on my camera http://youtu.be/aHRc_fGhP9Y
July 4 Meillionydd
A welcome return to the late Bronze Age-Iron Age, Double ring-work enclosure at Meillionydd on Pen Llyn on the side of Mynydd Rhiw (a mountain of significant importance of course). This is Bangor University's fourth season here under the directorship of Kate Waddington and Raimund Karl, and it's my third season on site.
I'm usually here to conduct school visits each year and use any spare time between the school visits to do some digging. So I'm up a couple of days before the first school visit to get re-aquainted with the archaeology.
My timing is impeccable - as we spend the day mattocking and shovelling last year's backfill from the southernmost roundhouse cut into the outer bank. Hard work but got to be done.
I'm next to Ray so it's good to discuss what's what on site - we have some really good questions here, and hopefully this seson's digging may resolve some of the questions,
As we get down to the plastic sheeting covering last year's excavations there is a sense of "getting there". I wonder how many tonnes we have shifted today ?????
June 28 Hen Caerwys
We 'extend the trench' - (Trench F) - that's a familiar phrase on digs, but we need to look at the relationship between our North-South Bank and the bank of an enclosure crossing from East to West so it's mattocks out and we take off the vegetation (roots) overlying the two boundaries.
It's heavy going cutting through all the roots but by lunch time we've uncovered a the new extension and ready for a good clean up / trowel.
The weather holds out until lunch, then it rains even heavier than yesterday. Again it's good for cleaning up the limestone rocks but soon gets very wet and very muddy.
Everybody soldiers on and by the end of the day we have the new area at least exposed - rocks are showing up well - I think we all feel that a good day's work was done - and probably glad that we did not have another hour in the rain.
It took over an hour when I got home to clean the tool box, sort out the "not so" weatherproof trousers, jacket, gloves etc before finally jumping in the shower. There was mud all over the kitchen as bits of kit and muddy boots were left out to dry.
So two days in to this Summer's digging season, just a bit stiff and creaky but happy. Off up to Meillionydd on Thursday to join Ray Karl and the Bangor University team. Should make it there on Friday as well before spending the whole of the following week on site dealing with all the school visits.
June 27 Hen Caerwys
I'd been over to Hen Caerwys last year for the final day, got a little bit of troweling done before spending the afternoon back-filling one of the platform houses with limestone rocks. This year I'm able to get over earlier and spend my first day cleaning some of the limestone rocks forming a North South boundary on the site. Always good to get the trowel out and get a bit of a feel for the site, I'm in good company and working in a trench (Trench F) with Caroline from CADW and a few of the local volunteers.
There is definitely a good vibe at Hen Caerwys, most of the volunteers are return-volunteers, everybody smiling, friendly and happy and Bob from Clwyd Powys (CPAT) and Will from CADW have obviously a good memory for names as they greet everyone by first name. To be honest that Saturday afternoon back-filling in 2012 really does not seem that long ago.
Troweling around stones takes a bit of time but our aim was to highlight the bank and start to asses which stones were tumble from the bank.
By the afternoon we'd pretty well cleared and cleaned the trench ready for a photograph.
The rest of the afternoon was spent moving stones for a half section across the bank. By 3-30pm it was "chucking it down" and rain eventually kind of stopped play although it did help clean up those stones !
Here's a bit of background form the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust website :
Set in woodland 1.5km north-east of Caerwys on the limestone plateau between the Clwydian Hills and the Dee Estuary, a complex of low banks and stony platforms marks the sites of houses and fields that were functioning six hundred years ago. The area has been made accessible through careful management and clearance supported by Cadw. It was partially excavated in the 1960s, and now archaeologists from Cadw and the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust are revisiting this complicated site hoping to shed more light upon the lives of the ordinary medieval people who lived and worked here.
Follow the CPAT Blog on http://www.cpat.org.uk/projects/longer/hencaer/diary13/hdiary13.htm
Really impressed with the ex-army tent - nice and sturdy and great place for lunch and tea breaks