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November 2023


Rhys Mwyn gave us an entertaining and whimsical talk.

He used to seven archaeological sites, mainly in North Wale,s to illustrate that material remains from pre-history to recent history help us to understand modern place, and to generate a sense of engagement and belonging with one's home surroundings. 

Detailed information on each site can be found elsewhere on the internet.

Bryn Celli Ddu

This neolithic passage tomb on Ynys Môn dates from c.3000 BC. 

It's design appears to be an Irish import, suggesting a migration of ideas rather than of a mass of people. It is an early statement that nascent agriculture permitted societies to invest time, energy and resources into something other than immediate essentials.

The exit faces east, towards the summer solstice - but what was the philosophy behind this?

Why were there different styles within the region - Capel Garmon (Conwy Valley) has a side entrance, Pentre Ifan (SW Wales is a portal dolmen..????

Standing Stones and Circles

These are later - from the Bronze Age, c.2000BC.  Penrhosfeilw, Ynys Môn, is the exemplar. Nearby discoveries of artefacts copper and tin reveal trade over long distances (tin from Cornwall), skill learning, development of ideas. Associated burial mounds indicate a move from communal to individual burials, but the purpose of single standing stones and their location remains a mystery. The favoured explanation for stone circles is that they have an astronomical purpose.

Tre'r Ceiri, Penllyn

This Iron Age settlement st high altitude boasts the remains of 139 structures, of which it is estimated that about 30 were inhabited at any one time. A reasonable assumption would be an average of 6 people per house, giving a population of 180.

The Hill Fort walls are here, as  elsewhere, lager than those required for defence, so are making a statement which we do not understand. Dramatic Main Entrances in the walls are complimented by minor entrance points 'round the back'.

Segontium, Roman Caernarfon

The location of this Roman Fort is easier to explain. There is no evidence of pre-Roman settlement, but the choice position at a point on the Menai Strait which is sheltered from westerly winds, next to confluence of the Seiont and Cadnant rivers, with a clear approach by sea, provides defence and a gateway for garrison supplies and trade more consistent with modern understanding. Subsequent civilian urban growth became the foundation of the modern town.

Sycharth - Owain Glyndwr.

Originally a Norman castle built by Roger de Montgomery, just 3 miles from the border with England, this was built to secure a route up a valley into Wales. A stone building on top of a motte, it passed on to the Glyndwrs,  revealing that the Welsh nobility were not isolated from their English counterparts, but together were involved in a number of political scenarios.

This site never developed as a civilian centre, the topography being unfavourable.

Glyndwr's other  home at Glyndyfrdwy was a moated site at the base of an older Motte, suggesting Status had overtaken Defence as the main consideration.

Bwlch Tyddiad

The origin of the name for this ancient drovers' road is unknown, but the popular English name, The Roman Steps, is inappropriate and misleading.

Pafiliwn, Caernarfon

The disappearance of recent structures can also leave a legacy in a place, This was a huge structure, demolished in 1962. There are memorial plaques on the developed site, and one apartment block is named Pavilion Court.

Among memories - Paul Robeson sang there, and donated his fee to the Gresford mining Disaster Fund. The final concert there was conducted by Dilys Wyn Williams, the first lady to conduct a choir at the National Eisteddfod. This was recorded by the BBC and the recording lost - except that a copy of the record was found in a charity shop - does this constitute and archaeological artefact?

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