LYDSTEP PALACE, PEMBROKESHIRE 2002
Lydstep Palace is a late medieval, masonry, first-floor hall house in the 'Pembrokeshire tradition', with a vaulted undercroft, in the centre of the popular resort village of Lydstep. It is now roofless and partially ruinous, but has been the subject of a long-term programme of remedial works, through Pembrokeshire County Council and SPARC/PLANED, beginning in 1996, and preceded by a full survey by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. We also undertook the clearance of the debris from the upper (first) floor. Lydstep Palace appears to have had a jurisdictional role, as a court of the Manor of Manorbier and Penally, as well as a domestic function. During the medieval period, it appears that the first floor comprised one large chamber, subdivided into smaller spaces by at least one open arch. Post-medieval alterations included the division of the first floor into three rooms. Later occupation, confined to two of these rooms on the first floor, continued into the early 20th century and was associated with a bread-oven in the ruined room. This was possibly linked to the occupied area by a flagged path. At the same time soil appears to have been imported and deposited over the ground-floor vaults, possibly as a garden. No medieval deposits or in situ flooring were encountered during the clearance work. Instead, it appears that the medieval first floor comprised a suspended timber floor over the vault apices. A Neolithic stone axehead was retrieved from the 19th century soil. It may not be in situ, but imported along with the soil and therefore an accidental deposition. Analysis, undertaken by the National Museum and Gallery of Wales, demonstrates that it is a Group VII stone axe, of north Welsh origin.
Project contact: Ken Murphy
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