MORE RO­MAN FINDS AT WYLFA

EV­I­DENCE OF RO­MAN LIFE FOUND ON ONE OF BIG­GEST AR­CHAE­O­LOG­I­CAL DIGS IN EUROPE – NEAR CEMAES

Bangor Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

EV­I­DENCE of a Ro­man-Bri­tish set­tle­ment have been found by ex­perts who are study­ing one of Europe’s big­gest ar­chae­ol­gi­cal digs on An­gle­sey.

For the past few months, ex­perts have been dig­ging at a site that’s hoped will house the multi-bil­lion pound Wylfa Newydd de­vel­op­ment, near Cemaes.

The ex­ca­va­tions of a 100,000 square-me­tre site have in­cluded re­mov­ing the soil from each of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion ar­eas, al­low­ing both pro­fes­sion­als and am­a­teur ar­chae­ol­o­gists from the com­mu­nity to record their find­ings.

But ac­cord­ing to se­nior ar­chae­ol­o­gists, of which there are 60 on site, they have gath­ered so far sug­gests ev­i­dence of Ro­manoBri­tish set­tle­ments in north­ern An­gle­sey, dat­ing some­time be­tween 43 and 410 AD.

De­spite a more mil­i­tarised Ro­man fort­let be­ing dis­cov­ered at nearby Cem­lyn Bay in 2015, this rep­re­sents one of the first Ro­man set­tle­ments dis­cov­ered in north­ern An­gle­sey.

The ear­li­est ev­i­dence for hu­man ac­tiv­ity on the is­land dates from the Mesolithic pe­riod (7000-4000 BC) but there’s been lit­tle ev­i­dence of wide­spread Ro­man­i­sa­tion, with most of Ro­man sites and roads ap­pear­ing in the south­ern por­tion.

There’s long been talk of Ro­man-era min­ing at Mynydd Parys, but no phys­i­cal ev­i­dence has yet been un­cov­ered.

Ash­ley Bat­ten, Se­nior Plan­ning Ar­chae­ol­o­gist at Gwynedd Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Plan­ning, said: “We’re still dig­ging at the mo­ment, so ex­pect to find out a lot more over the com­ing weeks and months.

“But we’re quite cer­tain that this set­tle­ment is Ro­mano-Bri­tish in its na­ture, from the first, sec­ond, third cen­tury, with clear ev­i­dence of ditches and drains.

“There were peo­ple liv­ing here and its also clear the site had been de­lib­er­ately cho­sen due to the to­pog­ra­phy of the land, as its rel­a­tively shel­tered, but also en­joy­ing ac­cess to the sea.

“The fact there were ditches here doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily sug­gest it was to pro­vide de­fence, how- ever, as it’s just as likely they were just a sta­tus sym­bol at the time.”

He added: “There haven’t been many digs of this scale that have been car­ried out on An­gle­sey in the past, so I’m sure there are more of these, but this cer­tianly re­mains quite rare.”

The main ar­chae­ol­o­gists on the site are Wes­sex Ar­chae­ol­gists and a part­ner­ship of Ruthin-based Jones Bros and Bal­four Beatty.

Else­where on the vast site, ev­i­dence has also been un­cov­ered of a wooden henge – a pre­his­toric mon­u­ment con­sist­ing of a cir­cle of stone or wooden up­rights – dat­ing back to the Ne­olithic pe­riod or Ro­man Iron Age, as well as flakes of flint which are said to be as old as 3,000 BC.

Ac­cord­ing to Hori­zon, car­ry­ing out this work now has been a vi­tal – and manda­tory – part of se­cur­ing plan­ning per­mis­sion for Wylfa Newydd, need­ing to be un­der­taken now to en­sure the forth­com­ing con­struc­tion phase won’t be dis­rupted.

Once the digs have been com­pleteted, and the in­for­ma­tion safely recorded, Hori­zon plans to re­store the land to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion.

“This is the largest ar­chae­l­og­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion across the United King­dom, pos­si­bly across Europe,” said Hori­zon’s Richard Fox­hall. “We’re do­ing it now rather than wait un­til we get per­mis­sion to ac­tu­ally build the power sta­tion to make sure we don’t have any un­ex­pected sur­prises.

“We’re not re­ally expecting to find any­thing of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance, but you never know.

“There­fore, it’s much eas­ier for us to find it now, when we can do some­thing about it, as op­posed to dur­ing the con­struc­tion it­self which could de­lay con­struc­tion of the project.

“We’ve also taken the op­por­tu­nity to have a com­mu­nity days, which have been very pop­u­lar, and al­low lo­cal peo­ple to find out more about the work that we do.”

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