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The Nevern Castle Project - Dig Diary

 

Week 1 - 16th to 19th June 2009

Trench B

Local volunteers Reg Davies and Joan Thurman excavating some of the many shards of pottery from this trench. The shards lie scattered on top of the destruction layer, which may be as much as 0.5 to 0.9m in depth. To the left, a recently exposed section of walling on an east-west alignment, its full extent as yet unknown.

Students and volunteers taking a well-earned rest after a hard days work in the trenches.

 

Trench F

After much hard digging the structure of the tower emerges from the top of the motte. From the surviving evidence the tower appears to have been constructed from clay bonded slate walls, which includes some irregular sandstone blocks.

 

Trench F

Excavating the centre of the tower base, which revealed rubble overlying a burnt layer.

Trench F

Curvature of the tower wall can be clearly seen emerging; it has been measured to approximately 9m in diameter.

Trench F

The photograph shows a substantial fracture within the north face of the tower wall where the right hand section (north facing) has moved down slope sometime in the past. Why? This could be part of the deliberate destruction of the castle by Hywel Sais in 1195 or failure of the fabric of the motte to support the round tower led to the abandonment of the castle by Hywel Sais.

20th June 2009


Dr Chris Caple of Durham University and Director of the excavation gave an impromptu talk to Wales’s ‘great and good’ in archaeology who visited the excavation. The visit was part of the 125th celebration to commemorate ‘Pentre Ifan’, being designated Wales first Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1884.

Trench B side view

From this position one can see the angle of the wall revealed at last year excavation and part of the evidence for the deliberate destruction of the castle. The image looks north towards the motte which can be seen in the LHS background.

Trench B

This angular section of wall recently excavated has a fine sandstone door jamb at its southern end (bottom RHS). From its condition of the sandstone with its sharp edges and well defined chisel marks it is likely that this feature may have only been in situ a relatively short time before destruction.

Trench D

Tim, one of our hard working student volunteers, busily excavating one of two possible post holes in trench D over the defensive bank. The team are to attempting ascertain whether more post holes survive along this alignment.

Trench F

The Tower wall continues to emerge during excavation. Here we can see the beautiful curving round tower wall being cleaned by those ‘lucky’ students.

General view across site towards trench B, image taken looking south from trench F (The Motte).

Trench A

Sue Hughes Volunteer excavating a post hole in Trench A. This trench also shows large areas of occupation evidence including burnt areas.

Week 2 - 21st to 27th June

Trench B

Another very hot day in the trenches and the finds keep coming; Mike and Reg get stuck into the archaeology working their way down through the destruction layer. In the foreground you can see a sloping surface (left to right) of mortar-bonded flooring. Tomorrow we follow the archaeology back to the edge of the building.

Trench B

The archaeology has been followed to the break of slope to the southern range of the buildings. From this image you can see the mortared surface exposed from beneath the plastic sheeting. This area appears to be some form of passage between two buildings. Above is a sandstone door casement abutted against the clay bonded slate wall. In the foreground lies the rubble destruction layer within the room and the slate threshold below. The rear of the building may have toppled down the steep slope to the south either through natural erosion or at the time of the deliberate destruction of the castle.

Trench B

This view shows the fine slate walling and sandstone blocks at the rear of the wall of the southern range ‘A’ excavated during last year.

Trench B

Richard Jones of Dyfed Archaeological Trust and the Community Liaison Archaeologist for the site discusses the archaeology with volunteer Joan and visitors. You can clearly see the two external walls of buildings A and B, in the southern range, creating the passageway.

Trench F

Local student volunteer Rhian explains the archaeology of the surviving tower walls to visitors. This image shows in detail the construction of the tower and the stratigraphy of the rubble destruction layer within the walls.

Trench B

We have crossed the threshold on the clay bonded slate building in Trench B now identified as southern range building ‘B’. The fine masonry work can be seen at the door casement at the entrance to the room. The image shows the excavated depth of the destruction layer which can be seen in the section. A number of dressed stone blocks associated with the doorway were also removed from this rubble fill and set aside for examination.

Trench F

The team have excavated the tower floor discovering a large quantity of pottery and some decayed animal bone.


Trench D

Several post-holes and Beam slots? were excavated in this trench, which can be seen behind Sam. A deep stone packed gully being excavated by Tim in the background is posing some discussion regarding its origin and purpose. From the image it is possible to identify the surface of the stone fill of the same gully lying to the right hand side of the postholes.

Trench A

Several significant discoveries have been made over the past few days in this trench. Postholes have appeared and have been excavated and sampled. Cuts into the possible made-up ground layer could indicate beam slots or a robbed out wall. Some very interesting pottery has also been discovered, the origin and period of which is uncertain. Dr Peter Webster of Cardiff University will visit the site in the next few days and hopefully shed light on these intriguing pottery shards.


Trench B southern range B building interior

Site Director Dr Chris Caple talks to volunteers and students about the interpretation of this trench. The area has been cleared of the destruction layer and the floor of the trench now lies above the pre-destruction archaeological surface.

 

 

 

 

 

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