The 1999 Season
The main aims of the three-week season of excavation conducted in late August and September 1999 were to examine the area around the two burials identified in 1998, and to investigate a crop mark in the field to the south which suggested that the enclosure and ditch system extended further to the south.
Trench V was square and measured approximately 17m x 10m; a further impressive length of enclosure wall (width 2.2m) was exposed. The ditch outside the wall was about 1m deep and 1.2m wide at its base, broadening to about 3m in width at its highest surviving level. At least three phases of recutting were identified, and significant quantities of animal bone (including dog) were recovered from its upper fills.
Three burials were discovered in the upper fill of this ditch, immediately to the north of the two burials discovered in 1998. One child/young adolescent and two adults had been buried without care or ceremony. As in the case of the 1998 burials, their orientation was approximately north-south/south-north rather than east-west. The child/young adolescent was found in the upper ditch fill, orientated with head to south and feet to north. An adult had been thrown directly on top of this body, this time with the head to north. To judge from the unusual positions of the arms, the adult's wrists may have been tied behind the back.
All the bodies appear to have been casually dumped into shallow graves which utilised the depression caused by the by now silted up enclosure ditch. The circumstances of burial and lack of Christian orientation have led to speculation that the three adults and two children were the victims of a Viking raid.
Within the enclosure, a shallow ditch (width 1.4m) lay stratigraphically below midden deposits which are thought to pre-date the construction of the stone enclosure wall. A smaller ditch or gully, about 40cm in width, lay perpendicular to the main axis of this feature, and to the west of the enclosure wall. An early feature, it may be associated with the 'enclosure' found in trench T in 1998 (see above).
Trench W (approximately 20 x 21m) located the southern-western corner of the enclosure in the adjacent field. This confirmed that the site was larger than first thought, being about 1 ha (about 2.2 acres) in size. Traces of a palisade gully and bank were found, predating the stone enclosure wall, which only survived as a stone spread about 4m in width. A pre-ninth century date for this early phase has been suggested by the radiocarbon date obtained from charcoal within the re-deposited soil in the bank of AD 615-875 (Beta 138878, 1320 +/- 70 BP). The enclosure ditch in this area was about 1.4m in width, and at least 1m deep (water-table preventing complete excavation). A burnt mound measuring approximately 2m x 1m, underlying the enclosure bank, had been truncated by this ditch. The burnt mound is now known to be Late Bronze Age in date, having produced a radiocarbon date of 1130-885 BC (Beta 138876, 2880 +/- 50 BP).
Interpretation of the 1999 season (as published)
Early medieval artefacts found during the 1999 excavations include a copper alloy decorative mount with interlace, and a copper alloy zoomorphic mount in the form of a bird. The burials are particularly intriguing. All five individuals may have been interred at the same time, and no attempt appears to have been made to commemorate them or mark the location of their graves. A number of lines of inquiry are being pursued in order to establish their ages and cause of death, the probable date of death, and whether any family links can be established between them. The stratigraphic and radiocarbon dating evidence both suggest burial some time between c.850 and 925, and Viking raiding and occupation of the site for a period are distinct possibilities. In 2000 it is planned to investigate the deposits within the spring which lies inside the enclosure. Why not keep up with our excavation diary on the project as it happens? It can be found between 14th August and 1st September 2000, on: http://www.nmgw.ac.uk/archaeology/2000/anglesey/
I am most grateful to Roger and Debbie Tebbutt for permission to conduct the work on their farm and for generously donating the finds to the National Museums & Galleries of Wales; to the original finders of the site, Mr A. Gillespie and Mr P. Corbett, for their co-operation and support; to the excavation team, in particular Evan Chapman, Mark Lodwick, Mark Lewis, David Stevens and Dr Alice Roberts; special thanks to Dr Steve Burrow, for designing and maintaining the site web-pages, in addition to participating on site; to Alison Brigstocke for information on the early fieldnames; and to all the volunteers and to all the students who participated.
Dr Mark Redknap