But what does it all mean?
The story before 2001...
The settlement at Llanbedrgoch would appear to represent a new type-site for 9th/10th-century Wales - a low-lying, fortified multifunctional centre. The objects associated with the occupation of the enclosure provide important clues to the function of the the Viking Age settlement. The merchants' weights, fragments of silver and waste from craft activities such as antler working indicate that it formed part of the economy and politics of the area - as a component of Viking (Hiberno-Norse) activity in the Irish Sea. The site has produced evidence for farming in the 10th century (perhaps as an estate centre close to the best arable land), and it appears to have subsisted on mixed farming supplemented by fishing.
[image: Reconstruction drawing of site]
Coin and other evidence suggests an early period of economic growth at Llanbedrgoch from the 7th century. In the 10th century, the settlement appears to have been at its peak, with harvesting of crops, keeping of livestock, the presence of artisans and craftsmen, and contact with Viking merchants arriving in ships. This coincides with the meteoric rise in the volume of minting at Chester, and growing contact with Man and Dublin. Some objects recovered from the enclosure bear the unmistakable mark of the Hiberno-Norse style typical of the Irish Sea area.
While it is often dangerous to link archaeological horizons with specific historical events, the preliminary sequence of development can now be correlated with a historical framework:
- Stage 1. Refortification of a low-lying coastal settlement during the ninth century. The massive enclosure wall at Llanbedrgoch reflected the prosperity of the owner and may have been constructed in the time of Rhodri Mawr (844-78) or his sons, in response to Viking pressure.
- Stage 2. The development of the site's potential as a trading post and multifunctional centre during the late ninth and early tenth century with the opening up of maritime commerce.
- Stage 3. Viking raiding and temporary take-over of the site are possibilities - if there was disruption, in all likelihood this may have been short lived. The integration of Sandinavians and native Welsh, and possibly even Norse residence remains unproven.
- Stage 4. The former importance of Llanbedrgoch was forgotten during the 11th and 12th centuries, and earliest surviving field names provide no clues to its former name or location - just to the spring at its centre.