North Wales

Into the Bronze Age, commercial excavations at Llanfaethlu Anglesey

Since 2014 C.R Archaeology have been the principle archaeologist at the new school development at Llanfaethlu Anglesey on behalf of Anglesey council. A desk based assessment, geophysics and trenching uncovered a large amount of late #Neolithic pit and a possibly #Neolithic house. Further evaluation in 2015 led to the discovery of three #Neolithic houses,the largest Neolithic settlement in Wales.

As of June 2016 C.R Archaeology have been carrying out a watching brief on behalf the construction company. To the south of the #Neolithic settlement this watching brief uncovered a large group of early #Bronzeage pits and a classic #Bronzeage feature in #Wales a Burnt mound.

A break in construction this week has given the opportunity to start processing the large amount of pottery and stone artifacts.

Digital Archaeology from the Air

Hi, I’m Helen. I’m actually a computer scientist rather than an archaeologist, working on a project called `HeritageTogether’, which is all about creating 3D models of prehistoric sites in Wales. The project is run jointly between archaeologists and computer scientists at Bangor, Aberystwyth and Manchester Metropolitan Universities – I work as a researcher in Aber.

We are making the models using photographs of the site and a process called photogrammetry which matches up the features in photographs and can automatically create the model. While the project is mainly based on photographs contributed by the general public, we sometimes go out to survey some sites ourselves.

To help with our surveying, we have an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – a remotely controlled flying vehicle that carries a camera; a hexacopter (it has six rotors) to be specific.

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Today we were visiting two sites on Anglesey in North Wales – the Lligwy burial chamber and Din Lligwy settlement near Moelfre.

Lligwy burial chamber was the first site we visited. It is a Neolithic tomb made up of eight upright stones supporting a huge capstone which is estimated to weigh at least 25 tonnes.

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We flew the hexacopter above the burial chamber, getting a number of photos of the top of the capstone. Once we had done some aerial photography, we landed and photographed the site on foot.

After we had finished photographing the burial chamber we went a little further down the road to reach the Din Lligwy settlement. The settlement is a group of circular and rectangular building from the Romano-British period, enclosed in a large outer wall. We flew above the site, first taking photographs then also capturing a video, which you’ll be able to see on our website soon!

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The models will take a short while to process, but we will have them up in our gallery for you to have a look at soon. Thanks for reading!

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1st Dig

On the Day of Archaeology 2013, I was on the 3rd day of 4 of my very 1st archaeological dig. I was a volunteer at Bodfari Hillfort in North Wales, one of several hillforts on the Clwydian Range, the smallest and apparently the steepest!

I have had no previous formal training or any kind archaeological experience other that visiting castles & museum etc. and watching TV programs such as Time Team. So I was very keen to learn as much as possible whilst volunteering but also very aware that the team were only going to be onsite for 2 weeks. I felt a little torn between just getting stuck in and questioning every action and decision the Archaeologists were making. I soon realised that the Archaeologists were quite happy to explain their methods and ideas to me and I think we all found the natural cadence of the team we were allocated to.

I was helping to dig trench three at the southern end of the hillfort. The section I was excavating was an extension which cut across the inner and middle ramparts; the team had found a wall structure at the middle rampart with a rubble and soil section packed behind, there was also a section of bedrock further in towards the inner ramparts which the Archaeologists thought could have been used to build the wall. These structures had all shown as anomalies on the geophysical image data taken in 2012.

I was chasing out the edge of the wall with my trowel, hopefully to reveal a nice straight line, we hadn’t gone very far down at this point so much more work was to be done to be sure that this was indeed a wall structure, before that could happen all digging, mattocking and troweling stopped for soil sampling and measuring. Although I’d never done this before the Archaeologists and the more experienced volunteers explained everything to me so I was able to get directly involved in the measuring and sampling, not rocket science I know but with limited time for the team to get as much done as possible, I really appreciated this attention.

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The Archaeologists also didn’t seem to mind my close attention while they were discussing what their thoughts were on what they were looking at and during and after the planning stage. I was quite intrigued with their discussions and thought process’s especially when they didn’t quite agree with each other, I found it absolutely fascinating to watch and to listen to.

By the time I left the dig the next day, the last hour being thwarted by a thunder storm, we were not really any closer to working out whether the wall was a wall, if it was Iron Age or Roman and where if anywhere there is a soil level down there. There are still so many unanswered questions, though I think that this is the nature of Archaeology and why we all love it so much.

Many thanks to Gary Lock and John Pouncett and their brilliant Bodfari13 team of Archaeologist and volunteers. Thank you.

Archaeology From Indoors – A Day in the Life of a Small Unit

We are a small archaeological unit (C.R Archaeology) based in Bangor, North Wales and because of our small size we often have very varied days! The Day of Archaeology 2012 is no exception with the two of us working on aselection of different tasks throughout the day.

Matt Jones started his day washing out a load of empty beer bottles – not our glass recycling but a lovely assemblage of Victorian bottles found at Benarth Walled Gardens, Conwy. The gardener working there seems to have had a fondness for the local ale and the bottles are all from Conwy and Llandudno breweries.

Once this washing was finished Matt stuck with finds and went to work on his assessment of Roman finds recovered during a 2001 excavation at Segontium, Caernarfon. The Roman Fort has undergone some difficult times recently but luckily Cadw have now stepped in to administer the site. This work is being carried out as part of our commitment to help charities & community groups and is being conducted free of charge.

Whilst Matt had a day of finds Cat Rees had to attend to the much more mundane side of running a small business. The day started with checking the company emails and facebook site, writing a tender and then off to the bank to check that the money from a client had been paid in. That done it was time to process a batch of RAW photograph files into TIFFs so that they could be burnt to disc to accompany a building recording report for submission to Gwynedd Historic Environment Record. Not entirely sure this was what I had in mind when I made the decision to become an archaeologist – bit more Marcus Brody than Indiana Jones!!!

After Cats breakneck start to the day it was time for putting together a projected income for an appointment with the banks small business adviser. Then onto starting a bit of a revamp of the company website and designing some new promotional material. If this wasn’t exciting enough the day ended with the printing out and binding of a set of reports for submission on Monday.

This all sounds a bit dull but it is an important part of what we do – by setting up an independent unit the reality is that we sink or swim based on our own work and the effort we put in. But we have the flexibility to do our own thing and take on jobs simply because they interest us and having control our own time is fantastic. Not everyday is like this – the Day of Archaeology 2012 came at a strange time when we have just finished one project and are starting another on Tuesday so luckily next week will we will be free range rather than battery archaeologists!