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Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Archaeology

August 2012

Return of the Vikings? Week One

Posted by Julie Taylor on 29 August 2012

[image: Four students use mattocks to start a new trench.]

Breaking ground. What will they find?

[image: Students using mattocks and shovels to prepare a trench]

The student team

[image: The trench is deeper, students consider the next steps]

Deciding what next

[image: Image of cross made from lead. About 1.5 cm square. It would have hung from a necklace]

Lead necklace pendant

RETURN TO LLANBEDRGOCH (WEEK ONE)

The unexpected discovery in 2001 of an intramural burial within the early medieval enclosed settlement at Llanbedrgoch raised a new series of questions about the site, its occupants, their activities and their relationships with other regions. 

We returned to the site a week ago, and the last eight days have focused on setting out the new areas of excavation, removing ploughsoil, monitoring weather forecasts and adjusting the daily tasks to make the best of  at times trying conditions. The team of students includes volunteers from Bangor and Cardiff, and one from Toronto (Canada). Yesterday we were joined by some local, experienced, volunteers from Gwynedd and Anglesey. They have all been outstanding, and the early medieval archaeology of the site is already being transformed. Excavation is an ongoing process, and if you follow us over the next three weeks, the team will provide you with personal insights into the excavation.

Even though the research design has clearly stated objectives, the work often reveals evidence of a completely different nature. Our return this year was in fact the result of such an unexpected discovery and its implications. The burial from inside the enclosure (Burial 6) was not revealed in plan through specific searching for inhumations, or the recognition of subtle changes in soil colour or character, but by the decision to cut a narrow trench through the early medieval ‘black earth’ midden material in the south-western area of the site in order to reveal the midden sequence and facilitate section drawing and sampling. 

In spite of the profound silence of the individual in this grave and those discovered in 1998-99, they continue since their discovery to help us answer in increasing detail a range of fundamental historical questions: 

How did the people of Llanbedrgoch and north-west Wales, who had contact with Anglo-Saxons, Irish and Scandinavians, respond to such peoples? 

How does the archaeological evidence for the politics and economy of early medieval Wales compare to that provided by other sources? 

Were the daily lives of people at Llanbedrgoch during the sixth and seventh centuries different from those in the ninth and tenth centuries? 

What types of diet and health did they enjoy? 

How did Christianity affect their lives and burial practices? 

We have already begun to answer some of these questions – one of  the first artefacts to be found last week in the ploughsoil was a lead necklace pendant in the form of a cross – slightly larger than one found in an earlier season of excavation at the site. 

This site continues to amaze, surprise and inspire – follow us if you can. 

Mark Redknap

Return of the Vikings?

Posted by Julie Taylor on 23 August 2012

[image: A least four partially excavated skeletons can be seen in a trench. They are lying on their side, knees bent. One of the bodies was buried directly on top of another, head to toe. A group of archaeologists are excavating another find]

Excavating at Llanbedrgoch in the early 2000s

After a gap of more than a decade, a team of archaeologists has returned to excavate at Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey. You can read more about previous seasons at this Viking-Age settlement here http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/archaeology/vikings/

Mark Redknap and his team made an exciting discovery towards the end of the 2001 season - evidence that there might be an early medieval cemetery on the site. Are they right? Finds are appearing already, but what can they tell us? Watch this space to find out more!

Mark is joined this season by

Evan Chapman (Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales)

David Griffiths (University of Oxford)

Tudur Davies (University of Sheffield)

Brian Milton, an experienced archaeologist from Cornwall who has spent many seasons at Llanbedrgoch

Archie Gillespie, one of the two metal detectors who originally found the site and who is a dab hand with the archaeological trowel too.

Students from Cardiff, Bangor and Toronto Universities, and other volunteers.

Hopefully you'll get to hear more about them as the dig progresses over the next 3 weeks.

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