A Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Hilltop Enclosure with Evidence of Early and Middle Neolithic and Early Medieval Settlement at Carrog, Llanbadrig, Anglesey

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Smith, G., Caseldine, A., Griffiths, C., Hopewell, D., Jenkins, D., Lynch, F., Madgwick, R., Peck, I. 2014. A Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Hilltop Enclosure with Evidence of Early and Middle Neolithic and Early Medieval Settlement at Carrog,
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   A Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age HilltopEnclosure with Evidence of Early andMiddle Neolithic and Early MedievalSettlement at Carrog, Llanbadrig, Anglesey GEORGE SMITH, 1 WITH ASTRID CASELDINE, 2 CATHERINEGRIFFITHS, 2 DAVID HOPEWELL, 1 DAVID JENKINS, FRANCES LYNCH,RICHARD MADGWICK 3  AND INGA PECK 2 Summary  A small hilltop enclosure at Carrog, Llanbadrig, Anglesey, that had been identified froma crop mark on an aerial photograph was investigated by geophysical survey and subse-quently evaluated by excavation. The enclosure was interpreted on typological groundsas a possible Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age defended site. The enclosure ditch wassubstantial, but there was no trace remaining of any accompanying bank. Within theenclosure were numerous post-holes and pits. Some of the latter proved to be hearths of Early Neolithic date and these have produced radiocarbon dates in the fourth millenniumcal BC. The post-holes appeared to belong to structures from occupation of the enclosure,and dates from these and from the ditch showed that it was probably constructed about800 cal BC and occupied until about 400 cal BC confirming the srcinal interpretation.Late in its existence the ditch had been partially backfilled and a small buildingconstructed within it, radiocarbon-dated to the eighth–ninth century cal AD.  Introduction  Archaeological features were first discovered at Carrog at SH 3780 9180 (Figure 2.1a)during aerial photographic survey by Chris Musson for the RCAHMW in July 1996. Thisrecorded a possible small settlement enclosure ‘about 30m diameter with an entrance onthe east side’ (GAT PRN 7362, NPRN 309,535). The shape, size and hilltop location of theenclosure suggested comparison with enclosures of Later Bronze Age or Early Iron Agedate in southern England but not previously identified in north-west Wales. If so this waspotentially a significant discovery for Anglesey, where the presence of burial mounds andstanding stones demonstrates much activity in the Early Bronze Age, but where evidence 1 Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. 2 University of Wales Trinity Saint David,Lampeter. 3 Cardiff University. STUDIA CELTICA, XLVIII (2014), 55–92  56 GEORGE SMITH ET AL.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Figure 2.1a Carrog in relation to the distribution of other defendedenclosures on Anglesey and the nearby mainland.Figure 2.1b The Llanfechell area: topography and archaeology.  of settlement before about the Middle Iron Age is lacking. This may be just because of theeffects of intensive clearance and cultivation over several millennia. New and improvedaerial photographs of the enclosure were taken by John Rowlands and Dafydd Roberts of   Pixaerial.com and by Toby Driver of the RCAHMW during the dry summer of 2006 whichshowed the enclosure as well as several other circular and sub-circular features in anadjoining field to the south. The latter features included at least five ring ditches, eachabout 20m diameter that are almost certainly the remains of burial mounds of EarlyBronze Age date. Geophysical survey was carried out on all these features as part of awider project on Anglesey for Cadw (Smith and Hopewell 2010) and the excavation atCarrog aimed to evaluate the results of the survey. Topographic and Archaeological Background The enclosure is situated at a height of 30 metres OD in low, gently undulatingcountryside, on the east side of the summit of a low hill (Figure 2.1b). The land is part of Carrog Farm, which is part of the Brynddu estate, in the eighteenth century belonging toWilliam Bulkeley (1691–1776), a son of Sir Richard Bulkeley of Baron Hill, Beaumaris. An early nineteenth-century estate map survey shows the field containing the enclosurenamed as Cae’r Wlan Frêch, which translates as ‘Field of the Spotted Seagull’.The fields at Carrog lie over glacial drift boulder clay (HMSO 1974), which coversancient metamorphic green mica schist (HMSO 1972). The soil is a brown earth (SoilSurvey1958), and the land is classified as of agricultural Grade 3, which is of reasonablequality, suitable mainly for pasture but with occasional arable (MAFF 1977). The straightsides of most of the fields in this area suggest that the present field pattern was a result of eighteenth–nineteenth- century improvement and it is largely unchanged from thatshown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1889 and a Brynddu estate map of 1805.  A LATE BRONZE AGE/EARLY IRON AGE HILLTOP ENCLOSURE 57Figure 2.2 Aerial photograph of the Carrog enclosure crop mark from the south.Grass pasture during drought, 2006. Copyright  Pixaerial.com .  However, the southern edge of the field is irregular, following the line of a former streamchannel, used also as a Community boundary and is therefore likely to have been a muchearlier boundary.  Aims and Methods The main aims were to identify the function, date and potential of the sub-surfaceremains. The excavation was based on the results of the geophysical survey by fluxgatemagnetometer. It aimed to sample the interior of the enclosure, where there were severalgeophysical anomalies that suggested features such as pits or hearths and part of theentrance on the south-east side, including one ditch terminal. The trench layout used thegrid previously established for the geophysical survey (Figure 2.3). The turf and topsoilwere stripped by machine, followed by hand cleaning and excavation. This proved that 58 GEORGE SMITH ET AL.              Figure 2.3 Fluxgate gradiometer survey of the Carrog enclosure. Grey-scaleplot in relation to the excavated area and suggested central building.  nearly all geophysical anomalies were the result of sub-surface features even where theywere too slight to allow interpretation before excavation.  Magnetometer and Soil Survey Results  An area of 60m x 60m on the top of the hill was surveyed at high resolution (0.5m x0.25m) (Figure 2.3) with an additional area of 60m x 40m on the slope to the north atlower resolution (1.0m x 0.25m). Levels of background noise were very low and archae-ological anomalies were relatively faint. Data was cropped to +-5nT. Three small soil testpits were also dug, one within and two outside the enclosure to help inform the survey.These showed shallow topsoil of c. 300mm depth over fluvio-glacial till of fine clay-silt withscattered sub-angular gravel. A very well-defined circular anomaly was detected corresponding to the previous crop-mark and best interpreted as a circular ditched enclosure (Figure 2.3). This has anexternal diameter of 40m and has a 6m-wide entrance at the eastern side. The ditch (A)appears to be about 4m wide. A slight anomaly (B) around the inside of the ditch couldindicate the remains of a bank but this interpretation would have to be tested byexcavation. The survey shows a scatter of typical strong responses from iron debris in thetopsoil but several weaker anomalies within the enclosure could be post-holes or pits belonging to settlement. A narrow curvilinear anomaly (C) runs up the hill to the edge of the enclosure. It then appears to continue as a faint anomaly running parallel to the ditchfor a short distance. It either divides or is crossed by a second anomaly (D) correspondingto the south edge of the enclosure entrance. There is no obvious interpretation for thisanomaly; it appears to be a narrow, cut feature (or combination of features) and respectsthe edge of the enclosure, either implying that it is contemporary or perhaps simplyavoiding the earthwork. A few faint straight linear anomalies elsewhere in the surveycould indicate former field boundaries.  Excavation Results The main excavation area included part of the interior of the enclosure and the enclosure bank (Trench 1) and of the enclosure ditch and entrance (Trench 2) (Figure 2.4). Removalof the ploughsoil showed that cultivation had entirely removed any trace of the bank.However, inside the enclosure, within the former inner edge of the enclosure bank, thesubsoil surface was lower and the topsoil was deeper than elsewhere. This can be ascribedpartly to the presence of a ‘ghost’ feature where the bank had been, where there had beenless plough erosion because of the protection formerly provided by the remains of the bank. It is also possible that the interior of the enclosure had been deliberately loweredto level it or that it had simply been worn down by use. It may be, then, that the subsoilsurface and any features cut into it, within the enclosure, have been reduced in depth byat least 0.20m.The ditch terminal was located, as expected from the geophysical survey. Lower downthe slope was a smaller ditch or gulley [7], part of an extensive linear feature, alsoidentified by the geophysical survey (Figure 2.3, C).Numerous features were present within the trench. These were concentrated in thewestern half of the trench, i.e. within the area of the former enclosure bank. However, a  A LATE BRONZE AGE/EARLY IRON AGE HILLTOP ENCLOSURE 59
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