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MAENCLOCHOG DIG DIARY 2007   

COMMUNITY EXCAVATION AT MAENCLOCHOG CASTLE SITE

Introduction
The community of Maenclochog have expressed a huge interest in the history of their settlement and in particular the ‘castle site’. Despite many ideas and stories the answers to the questions “What was there?” and “when?” have still to be answered.

Documentary research has identified that the area in question could be the site of a documented Medieval castle, the potential location of an Iron Age defended enclosure and the known site of a Manorial Pound dating to at least the 18th century (Maenclochog Castle Survey, September 2006, Jenny Hall and Paul Sambrook (Trysor), commissioned by Cymdeithas Clochog).

Currently, the site is being used as a community car-park and consequently, little can be seen at surface level. However, to the south-west there is a slight terrace outside of the bank which has been suggested as the possible remains of an outer defensive ditch, and to the south a rock outcrop which could possibly represent the remains of a castle motte.

The Excavation
Dyfed Archaeological Trust, with support from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, and PLANED, will work with members of Maenclochog and surrounding communities to develop and undertake an archaeological excavation of the castle site over a two week period (September 19th - 30th). Follow up, post-excavation analysis and reporting will also involve the community members. PLANED is supporting this community excavation as part of a EU funded transnational heritage project which aims to encourage communities to celebrate their heritage and culture.

This excavation will enable the local community to actively participate in forming a better understanding of the history of their community. As well as being of huge historical significance to the development of Maenclochog, the site has also been identified as key to the proposed village enhancement. The information gained will help the community to make decisions on the future management of the site. It will also help them to provide information to other residents, visitors and tourists about the village.

 

Members of the Maenclochog community team expertly cleaning Trench 1

Members of the Maenclochog community team expertly cleaning Trench 1
Members of the Maenclochog community team expertly cleaning Trench 1

A probable fireplace (honest!)
A probable fireplace (honest!)

 

19th September 2007 - Day 1

We started cleaning up the two trenches which were cut yesterday by JCB. Almost immediately we started to discover the outlines of probable pits, post-holes and ditches. There is even a hearth or fire place. Several fragments of medieval pottery were also discovered.

Trench 1 was placed to look for surviving remains of buildings inside the castle and already it appears we can see that Maenclochog Castle does survives below the car park!

After lunch heavy rain brought the days digging to an end, but not before we started to clean up in Trench 2. Here we found parts of the stone wall of the ‘pound’ where livestock markets were once held.

 

Cleaning the ‘pound’ wall in Trench 2 before the rain sets in
Cleaning the ‘pound’ wall in Trench 2 before the rain sets in

Digging the dog burial
Digging the dog burial

And here it is finished!
And here it is finished!

Hard at work
Hard at work

 

20th September 2007 - Day 2

In Trench 1, we started investigating a square looking cut and found some bones. At first we thought they were human but as we revealed the jaw it became obvious that it was a dog. Elsewhere in the trench we found a small area of flat stones that appeared to be surrounded by stake holes. Our initial thoughts are that this may be the remains of an animal pen.

In Trench 2 we continued cleaning and found a ditch on the outside of the pound wall.

Polly Groom, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Archaeologist explained how to record the wealth of historical information surviving within the churchyard as part of a graveyard survey.

 

Excavated stake holes
Excavated stake holes

Cleaning up on the outside of the  'pound' wall
Cleaning up on the outside of the ‘pound’ wall

Cleaned 'pound wall' showing ditch and post hole in front
Cleaned ‘pound wall’ showing ditch and post hole in front

 

21st September 2007 - Day 3

The day was extremely wet. Too wet to do any digging in the morning.

Instead we sat around and talked about other aspects of the village’s history. We looked at the records from Dyfed Archaeological Trust’s Historic Environment Record which records all of the known archaeological sites within the region and recorded information which wasn’t there.

In the afternoon the weather dried up enough to do more cleaning in Trench 2. This was when we found a large post-hole on the outside of the ditch.

The weather was better today
The weather was better today

Beginning to explore the remains of the medieval buildings
Beginning to explore the remains of the medieval buildings

The excavated foundations of a medieval building?
The excavated foundations of a medieval building?

 

22nd September 2007 - Day 4

In trench 1 we excavated a post hole with post packing stones. We also started to explore the possible remains of Medieval buildings. The first part to be investigated was a possible foundation trench for a timber framed building which appears to contain the hearth spotted on day 1.

In Trench 2 we began to dig out the ditch on the outside of the pound wall. As we did so we hit evidence of an earlier wall. We think that this may be the castle defence wall. So the ditch below the ‘pound’ wall has now become the foundation trench for the castle wall. There also appears to be a possible outer defensive ditch beyond the castle wall.

The wall beneath the 'pound' wall is first revealed.
The wall beneath the ‘pound’ wall is first revealed

23rd September 2007 - Day 5

Started doing some planning and context recording. Possible foundation trench in Trench 1 looks like it is not a building foundation trench as it appears to curve – possibly a property boundary – or is it an Iron Age round house with a central hearth!

Trench 1 – Richard has been digging down on the inside of the pound wall. Emptied the foundation trench for the castle wall and continuing to dig the outer defensive ditch. But also looks like there is stratigraphy surviving between the outer ditch and the castle wall. Could be evidence of the Iron Age fortifications. Who knows at this stage?


24th September 2007 - Day 6

Today we arrived at site to find our trenches flooded after heavy rain over night!
Today we arrived at site to find our trenches flooded after heavy rain over night!

We were visited by four groups from Maenclochog School.
We were visited by four groups from Maenclochog School.

In Trench 1 we began to draw the features we have discovered so far, and excavated some possible post holes.
In Trench 1 we began to draw the features we have discovered so far, and excavated some possible post holes.

In Trench 2 we began to excavate a large post hole and dug down to find out if there is an iron age bank outside the medieval castle wall.
In Trench 2 we began to excavate a large post hole and dug down to find out if there is an iron age bank outside the medieval castle wall. We also began to excavate a possible outer defensive ditch at the south end of the trench. Is it Medieval or is it Iron Age?

25th September 2007 - Day 7

Today terrible weather made work difficult. Despite the rain we were visited by the local Steiner School.
Today terrible weather made work difficult. Despite the rain we were visited by the local Steiner School.

In Trench 1 we caught up with the paperwork, making a record of the features we have found so far.
In Trench 1 we caught up with the paperwork, making a record of the features we have found so far.

In Trench 2 we began to plan the pound wall and the medieval castle wall. The Castle wall is 2.20m thick. We also excavated the large post hole and continued to remove the possible bank material.
In Trench 2 we began to plan the pound wall and the medieval castle wall. The Castle wall is 2.20m thick. We also excavated the large post hole and continued to remove the possible bank material.

 

26th September 2007 - Day 8

After yet another wet and windy start, the weather improved and it was possible to clean up the trenches. In Trench 1 we excavated the ditch of the large roundhouse, finding evidence that it once contained post holes.
After yet another wet and windy start, the weather improved and it was possible to clean up the trenches. In Trench 1 we excavated the ditch of the large roundhouse, finding evidence that it once contained post holes.

We also excavated other post holes with packing stones, outside the roundhouse.
We also excavated other post holes with packing stones, outside the roundhouse.

In Trench 2 we continued to remove the possible bank material to reveal the buried soil horizon underneath.
In Trench 2 we continued to remove the possible bank material to reveal the buried soil horizon underneath.

 

27th September - Day 9

Today we excavated the fill of the hearth at the centre of the Iron Age round house. We will process the hearth fill to try and find charred seeds which will tell us what the inhabitants of Maenclochog were eating in the Iron Age!
Today we excavated the fill of the hearth at the centre of the Iron Age round house. We will process the hearth fill to try and find charred seeds which will tell us what the inhabitants of Maenclochog were eating in the Iron Age!

Now that we have excavated most of the post holes and stake holes, might there be a second round house?
Now that we have excavated most of the post holes and stake holes, might there be a second round house?

The excavated curved ditch. This may have been a ‘drip gulley’ to drain away water running off the roof of the round house.
The excavated curved ditch. This may have been a ‘drip gulley’ to drain away water running off the roof of the round house.

In Trench 2 we continued to remove the yellow clay which may have formed a defensive bank in the Iron Age.

28th September - Day 10

Trench 2- It is beginning to look as if we have indeed found an outer defensive ditch and bank, but still no dating evidence to tell us if it is medieval or Iron Age.
Trench 2- It is beginning to look as if we have indeed found an outer defensive ditch and bank, but still no dating evidence to tell us if it is medieval or Iron Age.

In Trench 1, Lucy starts to excavate more post holes! These may have formed the walls of the Iron Age round house.
In Trench 1, Lucy starts to excavate more post holes! These may have formed the walls of the Iron Age round house.

Heather and Joan excavate part of the clay floor of the round house.
Heather and Joan excavate part of the clay floor of the round house.


The post holes for the wall of the round house are now clear. At the top of the picture a row of post holes may be the remains of an interior wall dividing up the interior space of the round house.

 

29th September - Day 11

A busy day, with lots of digging, drawing, photography and written descriptions to be made of all the features we have found.
A busy day, with lots of digging, drawing, photography and written descriptions to be made of all the features we have found.


Now that we have removed all of the yellow clay bank soil, we have revealed a dark grey layer. This is a ‘buried soil’ – the ground surface before the ditch and bank were first created.


Tessa began to record inscriptions on grave stones in St Mary’s graveyard. Eventually this may be added to a bigger survey of Pembrokeshire graveyards.

 

30th September - Day 12

The last day of the excavation, with lots of jobs to finish. Alice introduced the team to Investigating standing buildings, to look for clues to their history and changing use through time.
The last day of the excavation, with lots of jobs to finish. Alice introduced the team to Investigating standing buildings, to look for clues to their history and changing use through time.


In trench 2 we dug through the buried soil to check there was no more archaeology to dig.

In Trench 1, is this line of stake holes a boundary fence between two round houses?
In Trench 1, is this line of stake holes a boundary fence between two round houses?

 

1st October - Day 13

Today the trenches were backfilled. The dog burial was left in peace and the ancient past of Maenclochog is hidden beneath the ground once again.
Today the trenches were backfilled. The dog burial was left in peace and the ancient past of Maenclochog is hidden beneath the ground once again.

The excavation has generated much interest in the history of the village, which as well as rediscovering its medieval castle, has discovered its prehistoric origins.

In November (date to be confirmed), Dyfed Archaeological Trust will present the initial results of the excavation to the community in Maenclochog Village Hall.

The team from Dyfed Archaeological Trust would like to thank the people of Maenclochog for their hospitality and interest during the excavation, and PLANED, who managed to find funding for the project.

And many thanks are due to the team of local volunteers who have worked hard to successfully reveal the history of Maenclochog hidden beneath the car park.

 

 

 

 

 

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