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20-year dig draws to an end; RETRO REPORT.

AUGUST 5, 2004 - How we covered...

A24-YEAR archaeological dig which has transformed Wales' view of the Iron Age is to be wound up. The site at Castell Henllys has become one of the largest and most important excavations in the UK since trowels first hit the soil near Newport, Pembrokeshire, in 1981.

For almost a century it has been known that the hillside was occupied by our ancestors but little was known about them or how they had lived.

Now their fort has been uncovered baring secret stashes of sophisticated artefacts such as querns for grinding corn, spindle whorls for weaving, brooches, spear heads and horse harnesses.

Painstaking sifting at the student training ground each summer has also unearthed several high-class Roman-style goods. This year 50 students led by Harold Mytum, of York University, have found an almost perfectly preserved fifth-century-BC bowl, as well as glass beads.

Now only small-scale digs will be mounted amid the fort's outer defences.

But the archaeologists' work so far leaves a significant legacy. Discoveries there, they say, help show areas like West Wales were not, as previously thought, outposts of a culture centred around southern England but instead part of a thriving cultural community trading along the western seaboard of Europe and Britain.

"To me this site is very important," said Dr Mytum yesterday. "It's the only example of this sort of fort that's been excavated very extensively. It's revealed that they are very much more complicated in their design and construction than people thought.

"In Britain it's up there with two or three other major Iron Age sites people know about such as Danebury in Hampshire."

Edited by Tony Woolway
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 5, 2011
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