Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
Regional Historic Environment Record

Din Lligwy Hut Circle Settlement, Moelfre

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 2132
Trust : Gwynedd
Community : Moelfre
Unitary authority : Ynys Mon
NGR : SH49708613
Site Type (preferred type first) : Roman HUT CIRCLE SETTLEMENT
Status : Scheduled Monument , Cared for by the State

Summary :
Din Lligwy is a substantial and well preserved enclosed hut group, probably of Romano British date with earlier antecedents. The enclosure itself is an irregular pentagon built of large blocks of local limestone and contains 6 structures, 2 circular and 4 rectangular. The rectangular huts, 3 of which are built against the enclosure wall are interpreted as workshops and animal sheds. Evidence for metal working existed in the form of iron-working hearths and dumps of slag. Finds from the site, excavated in 1905, included imported pottery, a silver ingot and glassware and suggested occupation in the 4th century AD.

Evidence for the earlier phase of occupation on the site includes two stretches of dry-stone walling' part of a curved length of wall and another length of wall about 5m to the north of the later settlement. There is no evidence to date the earlier phase but it is likely to have its origins in the late prehistoric period.

Description :
About 0.5 miles from sea, on edge of a limestone cliff about 20ft high overlooking both the valley and Lligwy Bay, are the remains of seven ancient buildings. They are surrounded by a stone wall and described on the OS map as Din Lligwy. Two of the foundations are circular, the other five being practically rectangular and of the type commonly known in Wales as Cyttigu Gwyddelod. Full excavation report, plans and photos included. <1>

An imposing and well-preserved walled hut group. The enclosing walls are built in straight lengths and form an irregular pentagon covering rather more than half an acre. The overall measurements of the enclosure are N-S, 160ft, E-W, 190ft. The wall is from 4ft to 5ft thick and consists of two rows of facing slabs of limestone with rubble filling in between. (RCAHMW, 1937)

(Further information of sketch plan included).

Baynes' excavations uncovered much RB pottery, Roman pottery including Samian and coins of Tetricus, Constantine and Constantinous. Iron working had been carried on at the site, and smelting hearths with iron slag and a variety of iron objects were found in the huts. The finds indicate occupation almost solely in the 14th century but the hut group may have superseded an earlier though not necessarily pre-Roman settlement. Traces of this show as the two curved stretches of dry stone walling 220ft west and 90ft north of the enclosure, and a hut circle 90ft to the west. <3>

A derived petit-tranchet arrowhead, found by Baynes is now in the National Museum of Wales (Acc No. 4213951/K). <4>

Several small bowl type Roman furnaces were found within the enclosure. <5>

Din Lligwy is well preserved, with walls 1.0m thick and up to 2.0m high. It is open to the general public. The rectangular hut to the south of the site is probably earlier than the main settlement. The round hut and walling to the SW and the walling to the north are no longer extant. The upper stone of a bee hive quern and a matching pair of quern stones though to have come from Din Lligwy are preserved at Plas Lligwy. <6>

The accommodation provided by round buildings suggests a population of 5 to 9 individuals, single families with a few extras. If this estimate is at all correct, these homesteads should indicate a high level of investment as they represent the most elaborate development in the homestead building tradition. The amount of enclosed space is large, suggesting the handling of animals, and the association with terraced fields indicates arable production. Excavations at Din Lligwy provided querns and mortars and large numbers of animal bone, in which cattle were the dominant species with sheep second. Numerous shell-fish remains suggest a diversification of diet. The size, complexity, regularity of layout and apparent high level of investment distinguish these from other homesteads and suggest that examples such as Din Lligwy may have been the residences of a leading social group. Din Lligwy finds included nearly 800 shards of pottery, mostly imported, several pieces of glassware, about 12 late Roman coins, iron slag, sheet and cast bronze and ingots of silver and lead. These homesteads appear to have been the regional equivalent of the smaller Romano-British villae known from lowland Britain. <7>

Traces of a curvilinear outline of a settlement have been recorded NW of the enclosure but these are now overgrown. <8>

Full excavation report. <9>

The site was fully excavated by Baynes in 1905 and subsequent years (1908; 1930c). This well-preserved large stone enclosure contains the remains of two circular and five rectangular stone buildings which possess walls up to 1m thick and 2m high (Figure 6.16). The stone-faced enclosing walls are impressive, being up to c. 1.5m thick, and they contain a rubble core. Traces of a curvilinear wall, possibly belonging to an earlier phase of settlement, have been recorded to the northwest of the enclosure. The settlement produced a rich assemblage of finds dating to the Romano-British period, and all of the pottery sherds mentioned below are Roman. It is worth noting here the recovery of a few sherds of crude pottery, which were described by Baynes as reddish brown wares and of 'local or island manufacture (1930c, 383). These may even be later Iron Age briquetage fragments. Traces of an earlier phase of settlement is indicated by the two curved stretches of dry stone walling, c. 67m to the west and c. 27m to the north of the enclosure, and another isolated stone roundhouse approximately 30m to the west. The latter structure produced only a small assemblage of hammerstones, supporting an interpretation offered by Baynes (1930c, 383) that they belong to an earlier phase of Iron Age settlement.

Two roundhouses (2 and 3) were examined. Roundhouse 2, in the northwest corner of the settlement, had a diameter of c. 10m and a stepped entranceway facing east (Baynes 1908, 18896). The interior deposits were characterized by tumble from the walls and a large assemblage of finds, including nearly eighty pottery sherds, a glass jug, a silver ingot, an iron ring, a flint arrowhead, some animal bones and shell. Roundhouse 3, on the southeast side of the settlement, had a diameter of c. 9.8m and a possible entrance facing east. A small hearth stone was located next to the north wall and this may indicate the location of a hearth. Occupation deposits consisting of dark earth were identified and this contained the majority of the finds, including nearly 220 sherds, a Roman coin, a spindlewhorl, a collection of iron objects, and some worked stone, flint and bone. Animal bones and shell were also included within this layer. The quantity of finds found within these buildings is surprising and they may well have been left deliberately during the formal abandonment of the settlement.

The rectangular buildings (1, 4, 5, 6, IIA and IIB) were also quite rich in finds, and a number contained iron-smelting hearths, possibly suggesting some differentiation in function. Building 1a is c. 10m by 8m and had an entrance facing east (Baynes 1930c, 3757). A hearth was located just within the entrance and the internal occupation and rubble contexts produced nine pottery sherds, as well as animal bones and shell. A near-complete decorated black cooking bowl, which had been repaired in places with iron clamps, was found immediately outside this building and next to the adjacent roundhouse 2.

Building 4 in the northeast corner was one of the largest, measuring c. 15m by 6m, with an entrance facing south and into the enclosure. A well-defined stone and earth floor was stratified beneath an abandonment horizon of rubble and earth. Stone slabs covered the floor of the entranceway and beneath these was a deposit of animal bones and 'masses of crushed mussel shells (Baynes 1908, 197). This demonstrates at least two phases of occupation. This building contained five iron-smelting hearths, rich in ash, slag and charcoal. Just over 150 sherds of pottery were also recovered, alongside a fragment of sheet bronze, two Roman coins, glass, seventy iron nails and forty fragments of iron objects, worked bone and stone, including a quernstone, and a relatively large collection of animal bones.

The slightly smaller rectangular Building 5, located along the southern wall of the enclosure, was c. 11m by 5m and had an entrance facing north, into the enclosure (Baynes 1908, 2003). This building also contained two hearths and these were interpreted as smelting-hearths due to their rich charcoal and slag content. A large fragment of a black cooking bowl was recovered from one of these hearths, however, suggesting they had other uses, too. The finds from the rubble and earth deposits infilling the interior included just over 260 pottery sherds, a small lead ingot, three Roman coins, glass, two stone spindlewhorls, a bone or antler bead, bone pointing tools or awls, a bronze knife fragment, an iron flesh hook and a relatively large collection of animal bones. An ornate bronze bangle with twisted decoration was recovered in an area outside of this structure, in the southeast corner of the settlement (Baynes 1930c, 380).

The rectangular Building 6 was located against the eastern enclosure wall (Baynes 1908, 2035) the entrance to the settlement led through this space and this building may indeed be a gatehouse. In stark contrast to the rest of the buildings, very few finds were recovered from this building, demonstrating that different depositional processes were at work. Only twenty-two sherds of pottery were recovered, alongside a fragment of sheet bronze, and a small collection of struck flint, animal bones and shell. The three enclosed spaces located either side of the enclosure wall were also partially examined (Baynes 1908, 20410). While the function of these spaces remains uncertain, they were unlikely to have been roofed structures (Baynes 1980, 205), and may have functioned as yards. Small assemblages of pottery and other finds were recovered from them.

A large assemblage of finds was recovered from the excavations, and detailed inventories of the finds associated with each structure have been published by Baynes (1908; 1930c). The finds included nearly 800 sherds of Romano-British pottery, including samian ware, as well as twelve Roman coins of Tetricus, Constantine and Constantinous, several fragments of glass ware, iron slag, sheet and cast bronze objects and ingots of silver and lead. Iron had been worked at the site, and smelting-hearths with iron slag, consisting of several small bowl Roman furnaces, and a variety of iron objects such as nails, knives, flesh hooks, rings and lumps, were found in some buildings. Animal bones and marine shell were also recovered the bone assemblage is dominated by cattle, followed by sheep. Other finds recovered include: an assemblage of worked bone, including awls and pointing tools; struck flint, such as scrapers and arrow heads; and worked stone, such as quernstones, beehive querns, spindlewhorls and mortar stones. (Waddington, 2013)

Sources :
Smith, G. , A Survey of Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites in Anglesey, 2002-3 ( © GAT)
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales , 1937 , An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Anglesey
Waddington, K. , 2010 , Early Celtic Societies in North Wales
Waddington, K. , 2013 , The Settlements of Northwest Wales: From the Late Bronze Age to the Early Medieval Period
Neil Baynes, E. , 1908 , Archaeologia Cambrensis , <1>
Ordnance Survey , 1967 , SH48NE 3 , <3>
Grimes, W. F. , 1951 , The Prehistory of Wales , <4>
Schubert, H. R. , 1957 , History of the British Iron and Steel Industry , <5>
Ordnance Survey , 1970 , SH48NE 3 , <6>
Smith, C. A. , 1977 , Archaeologia Cambrensis , <7>
Hogg, A. H. A. , 1975 , Archaeological Journal , <8>
Neil Baynes, E. , 1930 , Archaeologia Cambrensis , <9>
Smith, G. , 1998 , Hut Circle Settlement Survey , <12>
Lynch, F. , 2009 , Anglesey Past Landscapes of the Coast , <15>
Alcock, L. , 1965 , Antiquity , <16>
Griffiths, W. E. , 1951 , Antiquity , <17>
Longley, D. & Yates, M. , 2001 , Anglesey: A Guide to Ancient Monuments on the Isle of Anglesey , <18>
Hingley, R. , 1989 , Rural Settlement in Roman Britain , <19>
Davies, W. , 1982 , Wales in the Early Middle Ages , <20>

Events :
42261 : Din Lligwy Hut Group (year : 1908)
42262 : Further Excavations at Din Lliwgy (year : 1929)
40782 : Hut Circle Settlement Survey (year : 1998)
44557 : Early Celtic Societies in North Wales (year : 2010)
40532 : A Survey of Prehistoric Funerary & Ritual Sites in Angl (year : 2003)

Related PRNs : 95541

Compiled date : 03-02-1987

Images :

The above data are supplied by GAT in partnership with its Local Authorities (Anglesey, Conwy and Gwynedd County Councils, and Snowdonia National Park Authority), © GAT 2019 (and in part © Crown, 2019 - as indicated)
This information is supplied for the purposes of personal interest only and may not be used as part of a commercial project.

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