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Friday, March 14, 2014

Archeologists make exciting finds in Clwydian Range

The Clwydian Range Archaeology Group, a group of amateur archaeologists originally formed under the auspices of the Heather and Hillforts Project, have made exciting discoveries on a historic site in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Through the Heather and Hillforts Project, the group undertook various geophysical surveys on the flanks of Moel Arthur, an Iron Age hillfort in the Moel Famau Country Park.

These surveys took place below the hillfort and several ‘anomalies’ were identified.

Following the culmination of Heather and Hillforts, the group decided to continue its activities as a community voluntary group and to investigate further the ‘anomalies’ identified in the surveys.  I

n the summer of 2013, the group carried out excavations on the north western flanks of Moel Arthur to investigate a particularly strong magnetic response found in one of these surveys.

This excavation revealed a water logged pit filled with burnt stones and a substantial amount of charcoal.  The charcoal was sent for radiocarbon dating and has been dated between 2617 cal BC and 2462 cal BC making its construction early Bronze Age.  

The purpose of these sites remains obscure with opinion ranging from the cooking of food, to Bronze Age saunas possibly with ritualistic functions and more recently with brewing.

They are collectively known as ‘burnt mounds’ and they are usually found lying near to a watercourse.  

This ‘mound’ is one of the first to be discovered in North East Wales though they have been found in other areas of Britain and Ireland.  

The discovery of this mound in its waterlogged position is a significant find and is indicative of occupation and land use in this area during the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age.  

On previous excavations on the hillside the group have found many Neolithic and Early Bronze Age flints including a barbed and tanged arrowhead. In 1962 bronze axes were found which have also been dated to a similar period.

The excavation, undertaken with the support of students from Coleg Cambria and the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, was very exciting, conducted in extremes of weather, howling gales, torrential rain and days of bright sunshine when the Clwydian Range was at its most beautiful.  

This project has been supported by Cadwyn Clwyd Rural Development Agency and has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Support has also been received from the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB Sustainable Development Fund, a fund for innovative, sustainable and environmental projects involving local communities in the AONB.

Nick Critchley, AONB Sustainable Development Officer said: “This is a fantastic discovery made by the Clwydian Range Archaeology Group. We were very pleased to support the excavations and are delighted with the outcome, which adds more detail to the fascinating story of how people lived and worked in the Clwydian Range more than 4000 years ago.”

If you would like to know more about the Moel Arthur excavation, findings or the volunteer group ,contact Membership Secretary Irene Milhench on 01691 690184 or Secretary Pat Daley on 01352 759135.

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