Wernfawr Dig Diary

As part of Exploration Tywi! we have begun our investigation at Wernfawr, a deserted farmstead near Penybanc outside Llandeilo.

The site first came to our attention when excavations ahead of the construction of the gas pipeline in 2007, revealed a couple of corn drying ovens. These structures, which were once common near farmsteads, are now rarely seen.

A small excavation last year discovered evidence of the catastrophic fire which led to the abandonment of the farmhouse. An excavation by volunteers is currently taking place to find out the origins and development of the farmstead. What can we discover about life on a rural farmstead?

Day 1 - Tuesday 13th April 2010

Catriona, Brian and Celia begin the arduous task of removing the turf and soil build-up over the remains of the farmhouse at Wernfawr, but the glorious sunshine keeps everyone smiling.

Day 2 - Wednesday 14th April 2010

Gwilym’s gardening experience comes in handy as we try to clear access to the standing walls. Although, as the portaloos fail to arrive, we begin to regret removing so many convenient bushes.

Day 3 - Thursday 15th April 2010

After a chilly day 2 the sun returns on day 3 and rapid progress is made on clearing away the years of soil and vegetation build-up within the farmhouse since it burnt down in 1911. Already an impressive slate floor is showing up at one end - carefully cleaned by Tony and Ken with his kids, less carefully cleaned by Gwilym and his pick.

Whilst at the other end of the farmhouse Brian starts to uncover a cobbled floor.

Day 4 - Friday 16th April 2010

Anthony and Celia begin to uncover the farmhouse walls at the southern end of the building.

Day 5 - Saturday 17th April 2010

Louise, Hazel and Eleri give up their weekend to uncover more of the cobbling at the southern end of the farmhouse.

So intent on the archaeology, Kieran gets shovelled away.

Day 6 - Sunday 18th April 2010

At the end of the first week the farmhouse begins to take shape and several different rooms are revealed.

One of the more unexpected finds of the weekend, a small newt sheltering among some of the loose stones.

Day 7 - Tuesday 20th April 2010

Mike battles through root-encrusted soil to uncover more of the comfy domestic end of the house with its nice slate-slab floor.


Day 8 - Wednesday 21st April 2010

A cobbled corridor is cleaned up nicely at the ‘business’ end of the farmhouse, acting as an entranceway and drain in an area presumably used as a dairy and animal stalls.

Day 9 - Thursday 22nd April 2010

True British workmen, Matt and Tony admire Simon’s shovelling technique.

Mike joins the team for a few days, ably assisted by Malcolm, and carries out a geophysical survey of the fields around the farmstead in an attempt to locate any more corn-drying kilns or older buildings.

Day 10 - Friday April 23rd 2010

Perhaps not as exciting to non-archaeologists, but a beautiful textbook example of a posthole is excavated in Trench 2. This would have formed the corner of the 19th century barn range seen on old maps next to the farmhouse, curiously built in a completely different style to the farmhouse.

Day 11 - Saturday April 24th 2010

The last room in the farmhouse is revealed with its cobbled floor. Perhaps the remains of a stable tagged on below the animal stalls, or is this end of the building actually an older farmhouse?

Day 12 - Sunday April 25th 2010

The workforce (Matt) is whisked away from Wern Fawr for the day to carry out a bit of emergency recording on a small stone and clom (mud) building near Dryslwyn.

Matt starts recording some of the walls.

Day 13 - Tuesday April 27th 2010

Back at Wern Fawr in the final week and the finely laid slate-slab floor of the kitchen / parlour is recorded.

On site discussions continue as the team try to make sense of the variety of different types of wall construction that make up the farmhouse.

Day 14 - Wednesday April 28th 201

The final week sees a series of school visits to the site. Hazel tells them all about it.

And Alice gives them a guided tour of the farmstead.

Day 15 - Thursday April 29th 2010

More budding Indiana Jones find out about the history of Wern Fawr, and shelter from a rare spot of rain.

Celia finds evidence that the farmhouse was once a lovely shade of pink on the outside.

Day 16 - Friday April 30th 2010

The farmhouse is carefully planned, each stone and posthole drawn, to get a full record of what we’ve uncovered.

Day 17 - Saturday 1st May 2010

It being a bank holiday weekend the clouds arrive, although Celia, Eleri and Hazel continue to smile.

Day 18 - Sunday 2nd May 2010

On the penultimate day a large pit is uncovered in Trench 2, we see how many volunteers can fit inside it.

But they still manage to excavate most of the pit by the end of the day. Unfortunately it did not contain the family treasure, instead it appears to have been dug just to extract the shale, possibly when they building the nearby pigsty in the early years of the 20th century.

Day 19 - Monday 3rd May 2010

Visitors to the site on the final day are given guided tours as Anthony finishes off emptying the pit in Trench 2.

The usual last minute rush to get everything done means age is no barrier to helping out. Lwsi gets her hands dirty in the name of archaeology.

A hard-working but still jolly team pose for photos in front of Wern Fawr.





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