Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
Regional Historic Environment Record

Pant y Saer Hut Circle Settlement, Benllech

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 60
Trust : Gwynedd
Community : Llanfair-Mathafarn-Eithaf
Unitary authority : Ynys Mon
NGR : SH51308245
Site Type (preferred type first) : Prehistoric HUT CIRCLE SETTLEMENT
Status : Scheduled Ancient Monument

Summary :
Pant y Saer is an enclosed hut circle settlement of probable late prehistoric date, located on the summit of a limestone plateau. The site consists of an oval shaped stone built enclosure wall with two large circular huts, one with rectangular annexes, and other smaller structures. The entrance to the enclosure is on the south west side The smaller of the two circular huts has an internal diameter of c.10m and an unusual raised platform around the inside wall, interpreted as a sleeping platform. The larger hut has an internal diameter of c.9m with walls nearly 2m thick.

The hut group was excavated by C. W. Phillips in the 1930s and finds included a saddle quern, mortar, Romano British pottery, a rotary quern and, famously, a silver pennanular brooch of 6th century date.

Description :
Pant-y-Saer enclosed hut group. Excavated by Phillips 1932-3. <1>

Occupation probably 4th to 6th century. Finds include a silver penanular brooch (PRN 3627). <2>

Group comprises an enclosing wall built in short straight sections enclosing a roughly oval area. Circular huts and other buildings built within. (RCAHMW, 1937)

OS 1:10,000, 1973, SH51308245 - ''Cytiau'r Gwyddedlog''. <4>

Alcock suggests ending about 450 AD. <5>

Pottery found secure Iron Age contexts. <6>

As described RCAHM. <7>

Reappraisal of pottery suggests Iron Age date. <8>

Site was cleared of all vegetation in 1985. Growth has since returned. <10>

This site was excavated by Phillips in the early 1930s (1932c; 1934) and it contains two roundhouses and two rectangular buildings. The smaller roundhouse had an internal diameter of c. 6.7m and an entrance facing east, while the larger roundhouse was c. 9m in diameter with an entrance facing west, being orientated towards the other roundhouse entrance (Figure 6.18). The two rectangular buildings are small and are perhaps ancillary structures rather than dwellings as such, and they appear to be later additions (Phillips 1932c, 294). The buildings are all constructed from stone-faced walls, which utilized large angular blocks, with rubble and earth cores. Some pits were identified and these contained fills rich in stone and finds, with one feature containing animal bones and a small flint scraper, for example (Phillips 1934, 16). Fragments of later Iron Age briquetage and Roman pottery were recovered from cracks in the natural rock floor of the large roundhouse, revealing an occupation sequence spanning the later Iron Age and Romano-British period. A large fragment of a rotary quern was found on top of the floor context, and a rock outcrop on the eastern side of the building was interpreted as furniture, providing a seat for example (Phillips 1934, 6).

The smaller rectangular annexe, located next to the main roundhouse, measured 5.5m by 1.8m and was productive in finds. One of the walls adjoining the roundhouse contained animal bones, shell and briquetage (Phillips 1934, 6), implying that midden material was deposited within the wall cores during construction. Occupation contexts within the building also produced large amounts of briquetage, animal bones and shell as well as a hammer stone. The larger rectangular annexe, which had dimensions c. 11m by 3.5m, was also quite rich in finds. A large deposit of briquetage was recovered from a pit within the southern end of the building and this appears to contain fragments of a number of containers that were broken in situ (Phillips 1934, 8). The building also produced a sherd of Romano-British pottery and a rotary quern, suggesting that occupation continued into the Roman period. An early medieval penannular brooch dating to the fifth or sixth century AD was also recovered from the eastern corner of the building.

The smaller roundhouse in the western corner of the settlement was the most productive in finds (Phillips 1934, 10). A square-shaped rock-cut pit situated just inside the entranceway contained rich deposits of animal bones and briquetage fragments. Briquetage, animal bones and shells were also found scattered amongst the floor deposits, which were interpreted as a small midden (Phillips 1934, 12). Similar deposits also banked up against the outer wall of the roundhouse. A stone slab platform, interpreted as a bench, had also evidently been constructed around the periphery of the inner wall (Phillips 1934, 10). The largest concentration of finds derived from the northern half of the building (on the right-hand side as you enter), including a complete saddle quern and a mortar stone set into a small pit, a rubbing-stone, eight hammerstones, five possible whetstones and an incomplete stone mortar which had been re-used in a wall context. The floor also produced a fragment of a bronze disc, which had been deposited at the western end (Phillips 1934, 12).

Another small rectangular building, c. 2.7m, was identified in the settlement. It contained deposits of animal bone, shell, vitrified clay, briquetage fragments, charcoal and three sherds of Romano-British pottery (Phillips 1934, 14). The function of the structure is unknown, but it may have functioned as a storage space which later became a focus for refuse deposition. During the Romano-British period, the entrance to the enclosure was apparently partially blocked with stones. Sherds of samian and black burnished wares were deposited in this context, alongside fragments of shells and a bone pin (see Phillips 1934, 16). (Waddington, 2013)

Sources :
Riley, H. F. & Smith, G. , 1994 , Gwynedd Hut Group Survey: Summary and Progress Report, Year 1 ( © 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
Ordnance Survey , 1973 , SH58SW Cytiau'r Gwyddelod , <4>
Daniel, G. & Foster, I. , 1965 , Prehistoric and Early Wales , <5>
Ordnance Survey , 1979 , SH58SW 5 , <7>
Thompson, D. , 1986 , PRN60 , <10>
Phillips, C. W. , 1932 , The Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies , <1>
Phillips, C. W. , 1934 , Archaeologia Cambrensis , <2>
Gelling, P. S. & Stanford, S. C. , 1965 , Transactions of the Birmingham Archaeological Society , <6>
Smith, C. A. , 1977 , Archaeologia Cambrensis , <8>
Alcock, L. , 1965 , Antiquity , <14>
Davies, W. , 1982 , Wales in the Early Middle Ages , <15>

Events :
40818 : Prn 60 Full Excavation (year : 1932)
40819 : Prn 60 Part Survey (year : 1985)
40920 : Prn 143 Gat Site Visit (year : 1976)
40921 : Roman Fort at Llystyn (year : 1957)
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)

Related PRNs : 93857

Compiled date : 24-05-1988

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 2018 (and in part © Crown, 2018 - 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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