Community digs deep to unearth Anglesey’s secret history
20 November 2017
Anglesey’s hidden history has been uncovered by budding archaeologists taking part in a community dig and open days around the Wylfa Newydd site.
As part of its ongoing archaeological investigations for the Wylfa Newydd Project, Horizon Nuclear Power invited local people from across Anglesey and North Wales to take part in an archaeological dig over eight weeks around the proposed power station site.
More than 250 people joined a team of community archaeologists to uncover fascinating artefacts, Neolithic and medieval remains, and hidden secrets that laid beneath the historical landscape.
The dig, being run by Jones Brothers and Balfour Beatty, with expert input from Wessex Archaeology, is currently one of the largest in the UK, covering 100,000 square metres. One of the most exciting finds is evidence of a Roman-British settlement, dating between 43 AD and 410 AD. The discovery of wall footings, ditches and drains, gives a clear indication that people lived on the site around this time.
Local people also helped to uncover evidence of a possible large henge during the community dig; a prehistoric monument consisting of a massive bank and ditch earthwork, which was found on top of a hill overlooking the coast. The possible henge measures 40 metres in diameter and would have had a 2.5 metre high external bank when it was first constructed. The monument would have dominated the local landscape and been an important focus of ritual activity during the Neolithic period (c. 3000-4000BC).
To end the community dig, Horizon hosted five open days for the public, local school pupils and guests. These sessions gave visitors the opportunity to tour the dig site and listen to a talk from former Time Team experts, Matt Williams and Phil Harding of Wessex Archaeology.
Delyth Owen, Community Liaison Officer at Horizon, said: “This has been a really exciting project for Horizon. Not only have we uncovered more details of the fascinating history of this part of Anglesey, but we’ve welcomed hundreds of people onto the Wylfa Newydd site to tell them more about what we’ve learnt.
“It’s the first time we’ve held community digs on our site and the response from the local community has been fantastic. We’re always looking for ways to involve the community in what we’re doing and this has been such a successful project. We’d like to thank all the volunteers for their help during the digs and everyone who came along to our open days.”
Matt Williams, Senior Archaeologist at Wessex Archaeology, said: “We’ve been very fortunate to welcome so many enthusiastic members of the public to the site. This has been a great opportunity to excavate a very large area and discover substantial amounts of important historical data.
“Anglesey has a particularly rich history but much has remained undiscovered. Unearthing evidence of settlements dating back to the Roman and Bronze Age is really exciting and gives us a wider understanding of the history of the island.”
There will be more chances to learn more about the archaeology investigations, as Horizon will host a series of talks across the island later this year that will provide more information about the studies and findings. Members of the Horizon team will also be visiting local schools over the coming months to talk to students about its archaeology work.