Undisclosed Location, Anglesey 2021 Dig Diary

Day 1
18th January 2021


Day 1 in a field on Anglesey where earlier geophysical survey has shown up two possible groups of Iron Age roundhouses. A small team of archaeologists from Gwynedd Archaeological Trust have opened up three test pits on the first day with more to follow over the coming days.

Each Test Pit is located over an area of possible archaeology or activity as indicated by geophysical survey.

Initial investigations will be in the form of 1m x 1m or 1m x 2m test pits, these should be enough to help us ascertain whether or not the targeted anomalies are archaeological in origin, enabling us to identify and discount modern / geological features, using the minimum of resources. Test pits containing potential archaeology will then be extended accordingly in order to assess features. With these trenches the aim is to identify and sample the archaeology rather than to fully excavate features.


Day 2
19th January 2021


Despite rather miserable weather, work has continued onsite for the best part of the day, with archaeological features now being revealed.


Dave's Test Pit

Black-burnished ware

Possible wall?

Dave has found several pieces of black-burnished ware in his test pit which confirms that our site is now very likely to date to the Roman period. Manufactured in Dorset, the pieces of black-burnished ware show that, almost 2000 years ago, Anglesey communities were connected to a wider trading network.

Much of the site and certainly the three test pits to date seem to have a layer of stones widely spread just below the top soil, as these stones are cleared Dave has revealed a structure resembling a wall. Given the limitations of a 1m wide test pit, a full interpretation of the ‘wall' is difficult at this stage but this does coincide with what we have seen on our geophysical survey results.


Carol's Test Pit

A pit, but what is its function?

Carol has found a layer of small stones in her trial trench and careful excavation has revealed a pit at the western edge of said trench. What might be natural reddish-orange soil delineates the edge of the pit and the fill of the pit is a distinct dark brown soil. These loose stones cover the pit and form part of the fill.

Further examination is need in this pit. At this stage its function is still unclear.

Day 3
21st January 2021



Burnt stone

This is the third day excavating test pits. Three test pits have now been opened up and we are almost at bedrock level in all three pits.

With further excavation, Carol's possible pit has become less certain. The underlying limestone bedrock undulates over the fields and the layer of stones that we have found in all three pits may have been used to level up the area. Thus some areas will have more stones than others depending on the nature of the bedrock.

Burnt stones have been found among the stone layer suggesting that ‘waste material' may have been dumped. Such stones were heated up and placed in a trough of water for cooking. There are numerous sea shells amongst these stones which would have been eaten by the inhabitants of this potential roundhouse settlement.

Dave's wall seems to sit on the bedrock. After careful excavation it is now reasonable to suggest that this is indeed a manmade feature rather than a natural phenomenon.

Many more pieces of black-burnished ware have been found in Dave's pit confirming a RomanoBritish date for the settlement. Some of the pieces actually fit together – this may well be where they dropped a bowl or pot!

Black-burnished ware

Day 4
22nd January 2021



To date five test pits have been excavated and recorded onsite. Dave's pit with the probable wall standing on the bedrock remains the most exciting. Further pieces of black-burnished ware have been found and it's likely that they are all pieces of the same pot dropped sometime in the Roman period.

Carol has been excavating a test pit on the western side of the site but the land is very wet and with water seeping into the trench it makes interpretation of the archaeology difficult. Carol was able to confirm a layer of stones similar to those found in the test pits during the first days of excavation.

Waterlogged test pit

Dave's wall


Day 5
25th January 2021


Three new trenches were opened up today on the western side of the site. This is a very wet area and close to a historic well.

The aim of these test pits was to establish the stratigraphy at this end of the site.

Carol located a modern water pipe (20th century) – at least we now know where the water pipe crosses the field.

Dave may have uncovered a burnt layer which has been interpreted as a bonfire for clearance or hedge management on the old ground surface. But there was nothing to indicate a date for the bonfire.

Several winkles or periwinkles were found in Rhys's test pit - further evidence of the type of food the inhabitants of this site would have eaten.




New Test Pit

Day 6
26th January 2021


A further three test pits were completed today but we were fighting against rising water levels in each pit which made excavation and interpretation challenging.

Some animal bones associated with a charcoal feature were found in Rhys's test pit but nothing else that gave us any dating evidence.

As we complete each test pit we increase our understanding of the stratigraphy of the site.

Day 7
27th January 2021


On the last day of excavating another wall was found in test pit 9. This is the second wall that has been located during the excavations. Careful excavation and cleaning revealed a wall facing of up to two or three courses.

The line of the wall matches a possible line or ‘bank' as revealed in the geophysical survey. No associated finds or objects were found which means that we have nothing to suggest a date for this wall.



Geophysical survey - interpretation


Geophysical survey - grey scale



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