Trust Regional Historic Environment Record
Bryn Eryr Enclosed Settlement, Llansadwrn
Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 401 Trust : Gwynedd Community : Penmynydd Unitary authority : Ynys Mon NGR : SH54057565 Site Type (preferred type first) : Iron Age ENCLOSURE Status : Scheduled Ancient Monument
Summary : Bryn Eryr consists of a rectangular earthwork enclosure, located in low-lying fields north of the farm of the same name. The enclosed area, some 66m by 47m, was excavated by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust between 1985 and 1987 identifying a sequence of occupation beginning in the Middle Iron Age. This first phase consisted of a single clay-walled round house within a timber stockade. By the later Iron Age, a second house had been added, adjacent to the first and both were enclosed by a bank and ditch. Rectangular post built structures, possibly granaries, were built and pits dug to provide clay flooring and wall plastering. By the early 1st millennium AD, the perimeter ditch had become choked with silt. A third house was added at this time and the farm seems to have been abandoned some time during the late 3rd or 4th centuries.
Finds from the site included Iron Age pottery fragments, small quantities of good quality Roman pottery dating from the late 1st century AD to the late 3rd or early 4th centuries, quernstones, a scatter of struck flints, a glass bangle and some Roman vessel glass.
Description : Visited by Richard Fenton between 1804 and 1813. <1>
Earthwork, rectangular in area. Single bank. Cut modern field boundary. (RCAHMW, 1937)
Gap on NE side may be original entrance. Slight traces of low bank running E-W across enclosure. <3>
Iron Age and Romano British farm. Three phases of development traced, involving additional banks and internal houses. First house thought to date from middle Iron Age. Last phase, indicated by Roman pottery, 3th and 4th century AD. <4>
Excavation report pending. <5>
An area of burnt stone, suggestive of a prehistoric hearth has been recorded by Owena Grey. <6>
The site was excavated between 1985 and1987 by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust (Longley 1998). This is a multi-phase settlement of clay-walled roundhouses which has produced evidence for occupation from the Early to Middle Iron Age to the late Roman period. It produced a rich finds assemblage. The earlier phases produced three mortar stones, seven saddle querns, one spindlewhorl, one whetstone, one polishing stone, one rubbing-stone and thirty-nine pieces of struck flint as well as over 200 sherds of briquetage. The Romano-British settlement produced nearly 600 pottery sherds, glass items, decorative bronze objects and a rotary quern.
The various phases of the settlement are explored below, but a word should be said first on the other features identified in the settlement (Figure 6.13). A complex of pits was located behind the roundhouses and these have been interpreted as clay quarry pits which were dug when the clay-walled roundhouses were constructed (Longley 1998, 225, 38). Several four-, six- and nine- post structures and pits were built in phases 1 and 2 and located either side of the entrance passage, which leads from the settlement entrance to the roundhouses, and they probably functioned as raised granaries. This indicates the storage of crops, but they were also processed on site, as the occurrence of emmer and spelt wheat in settlement features and quern stones demonstrate (Longley 1998, 253). A series of shallow pits, to the south of Roundhouse B, contained fragments of briquetage, supporting the interpretation that the main phase of occupation occurred in the later Iron Age. A total of over 200 fragments were recovered and, significantly, nearly 50 per cent derived from one of the pits. A scatter of struck flint was identified in the western corner of the enclosure and may represent a flint-working area. Animal bones from cattle, sheep and horse were identified.
Phase 1 A timber slot for a curvilinear palisade was constructed at some point in the earlier Iron Age, and a large clay-walled roundhouse (A), of 12.3m diameter, was constructed at the centre. An earlier palisade slot (3340) identified to the north of the enclosure may belong to an earlier phase of occupation. The first phase of the settlement is dated to the Earlier Iron Age on the basis of the radiocarbon results, but it is likely that it was already in existence in the Late Bronze Age, as is indicated by the dates from the first hearth in house 39 (1190830 cal. BC; CAR-1057), and an isolated posthole in the settlement (1120910 cal. BC; CAR-1227). The central clay-walled roundhouse had an entrance facing east, and a gully encircled the exterior of the clay walls on the west and south-west sides and extended in a straight line 3m to the east. The complex sequence of concentric slots, stakeholes, postholes and stone-capped drains within the building indicate repairs and modifications, and it was probably occupied for a lengthy period of time. It may even have been occupied when the later embanked enclosure was constructed (Longley 1998, 230). Two mortar stones were set into the northern area of the floor surface, next to a broken saddle quern. A saddle quern was also positioned in a shallow scoop next to the west wall, while another had been re-used as a capping for one of the internal drains. A cobbled yard surface was located outside the roundhouse entrance, and this was probably linked to the trackway which ran from the eastern enclosure entrance. The timber palisade settlement may have been in use into the beginning of the Middle Iron Age, as an internal palisade slot in the southern area of the excavations, which was sealed by the phase 2 bank, was dated to 42040 cal. BC (CAR-1058).
Phase 2 A large rectilinear bank and ditch was created in the next phase this ran parallel to the palisade slots on several occasions and the environmental evidence suggests that the ditch held water while the bank probably supported a willow hedge (Longley 1998, 227, 252). Finds from the ditch were sparse, although a lower horse jaw was recovered from one of the terminals flanking the entranceway. This boundary enclosed an area of c. 1.3ha and is dated to the third and second centuries BC (Longley 1998, 188). The lower ditch fills were dated to 39040 cal. BC (CAR-1004a), while the lower fills in the recut of the eastern ditch date to 360 cal. BCcal. AD 80 (CAR-947).
Roundhouse B was constructed in this phase. This was 8.30m in diameter and it abutted the external clay wall of Roundhouse A which was 10.5m across; the two were probably occupied contemporaneously. The arrangement of the gullies supports this interpretation, as they joined up with the earlier roundhouse gully. The cobbled yard surface in front of Roundhouse A was also extended to include Roundhouse B (Longley 1998, 232). Roundhouse B contained an internal drain, which exited through the entrance in the east, and some postholes, stakeholes and slots were identified within the internal floor space. A patch of burnt clay in the northeast indicates the position of the first hearth. A later stone-lined hearth was cut into the central drain, demonstrating at least two phases of occupation. Similar to Roundhouse A, two quernstones had been set into the northern part of the floor space and a fragment of a saddle quern had also been re-used as post-packing in the entrance porch posthole.
Phase 3 A third roundhouse, c. 6m in diameter, was constructed by the time the ditches of the earlier enclosure had silted up. This partially overlay the upper silts of the earlier ditch which were dated to 800200 cal. BC (CAR-1060) and the finds indicate occupation between the second and fourth centuries AD. This stone building was constructed next to the southern wall of roundhouse B, over the infilled drainage gullies. Roundhouse B was re-used at this time, as a rotary quern and Roman storage jars were found within the building (Longley 1998, 240). Roundhouse A was evidently no longer standing as it was truncated by the construction of a fence in this phase.
While the features are undefined within this structure, Roundhouse C also appears to have had an entranceway facing east. A sequence of three clay floors, central hearths, and intercutting and recut internal drains reveal a lengthy sequence of occupation. The first hearth and all the occupation surfaces were associated with pottery dating to the second century AD. The last occupation horizon, represented by a layer of black charcoal-rich soil which covered the earlier floor surfaces, produced sherds of pottery dating to the third and fourth centuries AD. It is possible that the layer represents the decayed remains of the collapsed roof (Longley 1998, 241; see Longley et al. 1998 for finds distribution plans). A 40m area to the northeast of the roundhouse had been cobbled to create a yard surface, largely constructed from small stones and spreads of burnt stone, as well as large flat slabs.
A large quantity of 571 sherds of Romano-British pottery, including black burnished and samian wares, were deposited within settlement contexts in this phase, dating to the late-first to the beginning of the fourth century AD. The presence of a relatively large proportion of finewares led the excavator to argue that the settlement enjoyed a high status during this period, being incorporated within cycles of exchange with the vicus and fort at Segontium (Longley 1998, 244). Other elaborate objects include a glass bangle, five glass vessels, two decorative copper-alloy objects, consisting of a second century stud-headed brooch with a cruciform incision, and a piece of twisted metal strip. (Waddington, 2013)
Events : 41071 : Bryn Eryr Excavation (year : 1987) 40782 : Hut Circle Settlement Survey (year : 1998) 40131 : Gwynedd Hut Group Survey: Summary and Progress Report, Year 1 (year : 1994) 44557 : Early Celtic Societies in North Wales (year : 2010)