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Llanllyr Nunnery Excavation Dig Diary 2015

We have returned to Llanllyr for another 2 week excavation grant funded by Cadw, to determine whether the remnants of the 18th century mansion and gardens revealed last year overlie the archaeological remains of the medieval nunnery; the precise location of which we have yet to discover.


Llanllyr Nunnery Dig Diary 2014


Day 1 Monday 6th July and Day 2 Tuesday 7th July

Torrential rain stopped work for most of our first day on site but we managed to get started in the afternoon and continued on Day 2 removing weeds from the cobbled areas of the 18th century mansion recorded last year and removing the backfill from the trench we want to extend and excavate this year.

Work placement students James, Mia and Nell, shown here with Sarah (DAT) joined in and did an extremely good job cleaning the cobbles.

Day 3 Wednesday 8th July

Work continued today in Trench 3a clearing up after last year.

But work stops when the sheep have to pass by on their way to be sheared at the farm.

Bethan shows her newly acquired skills in trowelling.

Day 4 Thursday 9th July

As we trowel up Trench 3a we are beginning to realise that there is a lot going on in this trench and that the archaeology is probably a lot more complicated than we first anticipated. However, tomorrow we will start investigating some of the features and working out how they relate to each other.

Meanwhile the cobbled areas are looking very good after a lot of careful cleaning.

Day 5 Friday 10th July

Trench 3a is now looking a lot better and we are starting to pick out features more clearly. The remains of a former wall can be seen running to the right of the picture from the large boulder in the background.

Becky and Nell have been working in the area to the west of the large boulder in Trench 3a and have discovered that the wall identified in Trench 3a continues eastwards.

An area of cobbles is removed to reveal the wall continuing underneath it and curving slightly to the southeast.

Day 6 Saturday 11th July

In the morning a machine arrives and we open a small trench (Trench 10) in the area where last year we located a sequence of ditches. A ditch and at least one post hole are revealed. Below are Sarah, Rob, Caralinda and Ken trowelling the trench.

Trench 3a is extended to the east. Steve, Becky, Joan and Trevor trowel Trench 3a after it has been extended. The area of stone in the middle of the trench in the background appeared interesting at first but proved to be insignificant.

Day 7 Sunday 12th July

After rain all night pools of water have formed in the trenches.

We spend the morning sponging out and cleaning up.

But the wet weather means that after trowelling the features can be clearly seen. The photograph below shows a linear feature crossing Trench 3a. After the trench is planned we hope to excavate the features tomorrow.

In Trench 10 Sarah, Rob and Caralinda excavate the ditch - Rob finds the only piece of pottery!

Day 8 Monday 13th July

However, the rain has returned and we do not get onto site until the afternoon. The site is very muddy as Steve and Matthew discover when completing the excavation of the ditch in Trench 10.

We do get some recording done in Trench 3a.

And manage to excavate a few features in Trench 3 before the heavy rain that is meant to be coming tomorrow.

Day 9 Tuesday 14th July

Amy, Jess and Caralinda reveal the new area of cobbles. This area corresponds with a connecting track way between courtyards shown on the 1768 estate map.

Fran and Hubert trowel Trench 3a again as the features are proving quite difficult to unravel. This picture was taken to show that DAT staff do do some work.

Day 10 Wednesday 15th July

The sun is shining at last and we are in Trench 3a in an effort to characterise the archaeological features before we run out of time.

Among the excavated features are 2 stone lined post holes that are unusual in being more than 0.5m deep.

Tony brought his drone to fly over the site and take overhead pictures.

Day 11 and 12 Thursday 16th and Friday 17th July

With little time left before the Open Day on Saturday it is a rush to finish excavating the last features and get going on the recording. Caralinda, Alex, Matthew and Becky work on an area to the northwest of the main cobbled surfaces. Here we have discovered the remains of walls and associated features that predate the cobbles.

After the area is cleaned up the features are photographed and planned.

Hubert and Tomos begin the surveying which we hope to finish tomorrow and Steve starts drawing a section in Trench 3a.

Day 13 Open Day Saturday 18th July

We had a great turn out for our Open Day approximately 150 visitors came to see the archaeological excavation and to find out what had been discovered.

Many thanks to the volunteers who helped on Saturday: Matthew, Becky, Will, Steve, Bethan, Catrin, Caralinda, Joan, and to Alice for stepping in to help Hubert finish the surveying.

Although we did not discover the precise location of the medieval nunnery of Llanllyr we did record evidence of activity that appears to predate the mansion house and gardens shown on the 1768 estate map. We hope that a detailed analysis of the pottery will help us date this activity more closely. Now all the evidence gathered over the last two years will be examined and reported upon.

Many thanks to Matthew Gee and family for allowing us to undertake the excavation, and to Matthew and Simon for all their practical help. Also thanks go to all DAT staff and especially to all the many volunteers who worked so hard on the excavation in all weathers. Whether you worked for one day or two weeks it wouldn't have been possible without you. Diolch yn fawr!

Left to right: Hubert, Caralinda, Bethan, Fran, Trevor, Becky, Simon and Matthew in the front.




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