(1741) ENCLOSURE near Meillionydd

ENCLOSURE near Meillionydd (Fig. 17) at 650 ft.
above O.D. on the crown of a spur projecting W. from
Mynydd Rhiw. Two concentric banks, forming circles of
about 75 and 100 yds. diameter between their crests, are
visible on the ground only as slight surface swellings 10 ft.

wide and I ft. high. Their construction is uncertain, but local
informants recall the removal of stone in recent years, probably
when the banks were already well spread. Air photographs
show traces of a central feature, perhaps including a round hut.
Lhwyd, writing in 1696,1 records a stone circle 15 yds. in
diameter near Meillionydd, and it is possible that the central
feature noted here represents the last trace of this; nothing
else now remains in the neighbourhood to which his description
could apply.

1 Arch. Camb., 1926, p. 199Condition:
almost ploughed out.

SH 21902905 5 11 57 44 N.W. Unnoted

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2 thoughts on “(1741) ENCLOSURE near Meillionydd”

  1. Following a magnetometer survey by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust in 2007 (Smith & Hopewell 2007), Prifysgol Bangor University and various partners have been conducting annual campaigns of surveys and excavations at Meillionydd double ringwork enclosure since 2010. This included a GPR survey of the enclosure in 2012, providing results indicating that the site was densely occupied, with the interpretation of the GPR data showing remains of c. 100 roundhouses, belonging to numerous phases of occupation of the site (Löcker, et al. 2013).
    Excavations by Prifysgol Bangor University (see http://meillionydd.bangor.ac.uk for various reports and updates) during the first 5 seasons (2010-14) concentrated on the area of the eastern (and probably only) entrance into the double ringwork enclosure. The results of the excavations largely confirm the GPR interpretation and have added some additional features (mainly early phase timber roundhouses and postholes of various structures, including one rectangular 4-post building) which could not be identified in the GPR, making it likely that remains of even more than the c. 100 buildings identified on the GPR are present on site.
    Based on the data that could be gathered, particularly during the excavations of the entrance area, occupation of the site probably started in the Late Bronze Age – Early Iron Age transition (c. 800-600 BC) as an unenclosed settlement extending beyond the currently visible boundaries of the site as defined by the double ringwork. Several earliest phase timber built roundhouses clearly are situated both inside, under and outside both the inner and outer bank of the double ringwork.
    In a second main phase of occupation, the site was enclosed by a narrow, c. 1.25 m deep u-shaped ditch with an opening towards the ESE, and probably a timber palisade fence with a substantial timber gatehouse about 3-4 meters inside of this ditch, and a metalled surcase outside and leading into the entrance (the metalling was found partially underlying the later phase outer bank). The terminals of the u-shaped ditch contained traces of badly corroded Iron objects, including a possible spearhead, knife, one or two rings and possibly an Iron chain. Several timber buildings inside that enclosure are likely to be associated with this phase of the site’s occupation.
    In a third main phase, the site then was enclosed with two concentric earth and stone dump ramparts with drystone facing, and a wide quarry hollow inside the outer bank, partially truncating the earlier u-shaped ditch. The entrance passage, with a dog-legged metalled road (resurfaced at least once) leading from the outer to the inner entrance, again had both the outer and inner entrance facing roughly ESE, remained in the same space as the earlier phase entrance had been. Associated with this building phase was a change of roundhouse architecture from timber-built houses to such built with drystone faced rubble core walls.
    In a fourth main occupation phase, some of the roundhouses of the previous phase seem to have been rebuilt in largely the same spot. Additional houses were constructed by making partial use of the banks, including a roundhouse set into the quarry hollow immediately inside the outer bank in its southern terminal and cutting away bits of the outer bank; and another one mostly destroying the northern terminal of the inner bank. Some of these fourth phase stone roundhouses also are characterised by (partially drystone-lined) pits in the house floors which seem to have been used as burial pits, at least as their final use. Several of these pits produced assemblages of finds, including a saddle quern, a mortar bowl stone, some stone spindlewhorls, and a few glass (and possibly stone) beads. The roundhouse in the southern quarry hollow terminal also had a massive drainage gully system, with the main gully cut through the bank body and emptying into the entrance area. Another gully lead out of the northern quarry hollow terminal through the entrance.
    Finally, the site seems to have had its banks intentionally slighted and the roundhouses associated with the final phase of occupation filled in with loose stone rubble, including many fire-cracked stones. This seems to have been a rather elaborate and labour-intensive closure rite, which would seem to indicate a conscious and intentional abandonment of the site, probably still within the Middle Iron Age (c. 400-200 BC).
    Among the noteworthy finds not mentioned as yet are two lead spindlewhorls, found within features which seem to have been associated with the last phase of occupation on the site. Radiocarbon dates available at the time of writing this short summary seem to indicate that the site was occupied (roughly) between c. 800-200 BC, with the density of features and stratigraphic relationships between different building phases implying a continuous occupation of the site throughout much of that period.
    References:
    Karl, R. 2013. Siedlungsbestattung? In R. Karl and J. Leskovar (eds.), Interpretierte Eisenzeiten 5, 283-98. Linz: Oberösterreichische Landesmuseen 2013.
    Karl, R., Waddington, K. 2012. Ausgrabungen in der doppelten Ringwallanlage von Meillionydd bei Rhiw auf der Llŷn-Halbinsel, Nordwest-Wales. In W. Meid (ed.), Festschrift für Elisabeth Jerem zum 70. Geburtstag. Budapest: Archaeolingua 2012, 289-302.
    Karl, R., Waddington, K. forthc. Excavations in a Late Bronze and Iron Age double ringwork enclosure at Meillionydd, Gwynedd. In J. Zeidler, S. Junges (eds.), Akten des ersten europäischen Keltologensymposiums in Trier, 6.-9.8.2013.
    Löcker, K., Trausmuth, T., Wallner, M. 2013. Archäologisch-Geophysikalische Prospektion Meillionydd/Wales. Unpublished client report GAG 12016, Vienna: ZAMG – Archaeo Prospections.
    Smith, G.H. and Hopewell, D. 2007. Survey of prehistoric defended enclosures in north-west Wales: assessment of some possibly multivallate enclosures in Llŷn and Anglesey 2006-7. Gwynedd Archaeological Trust: unpublished report (number 664).

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