Chance to dig into Welsh history at festival of archaeology

Published date: 13 July 2017 |
Published by: Dale Spridgeon
Read more articles by Dale Spridgeon


THE public is being invited to visit an archaeological excavation of a settlement unique to North West Wales,

The dig is being held at Rhiw on the Llŷn peninsula on Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16 and is part of the council for the British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology (

Led by Professor Raimund Karl, Dr Kate Waddington, and Katharina Möller of Bangor University’s School of History and Archaeology, archaeologists, students and volunteers have been excavating ‘The Meillionydd Project’( since 2010.

As part of the open weekend, visitors will be able to join site tours, in English and Welsh, and will see finds from current and previous seasons’ digs. More information can be found on the festival website ( and the excavation’s Facebook page (  

Meillionydd is described as a Late Bronze Age/Iron Age double ringwork enclosure and is a type of settlement unique to North West Wales. There are nine known sites on the Llŷn and two on Anglesey.

Now running for the eighth season, the excavations reveal interesting information about the past, for example, the discovery of glass slag this year suggests that the glass beads, found in earlier years may have been manufactured on site. This season’s excavation is focussed on the north-eastern part of the enclosure. The outer bank and a few roundhouses are already clearly visible.

Archaeologist Katharina Möller explains: “Radiocarbon dating has shown that people lived or worked on the site for around 500 years, from the 8th century BC to the 3rd century BC. Over this period of time the settlement at Meillionydd first changed from an unenclosed site with timber roundhouses to one with timber enclosures. The wooden palisade was later replaced by two earth and stone banks. Roughly at the same time stone roundhouses replaced the previous timber houses. All in all, work on site revealed at least eight construction phases and various sub-phases.”

Aside from well preserved archaeological features like roundhouses, the team of archaeologists, students and volunteers from all over the world have unearthed finds such as decorated glass beads, a piece of a jet bracelet, and decorated spindle whorls.

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