We Continue…! Or welcome to year two.

So what have I been doing since I last wrote a blog post? Well, researching and writing of course! Actually, I thought as I’m about to start Year Two of my PhD I’d give you – the people who are making this whole adventure possible – a progress report on where I am up to with the research process.

Research Progress – Parks:

When I began the research process, the existence of the medieval park, particularly in North Wales was considered to be an ‘import’. That is to say that the examples identified were created during the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century by incoming Lords. These lords, and their new Lordships, which King Edward I created in large areas of North East Wales were shown to have ‘new’ parks in them by the documentary evidence for their creation. The general consensus among historians was that Welsh royalty had hunted where they wished, and that there had been no requirement for management and regulation of hunting,hunter and hunted.

The last study of the quantity and distribution of medieval parks in Wales had been published in 1983 as part of a national gazetteer of England, and although useful as a starting point it did not contain any distribution maps of the parks identified. In north Wales eight parks were identified, whilst for Shropshire (within my defined study are of the north west of the county) there were ten. The current total I have is forty eight, an increase of thirty parks.

Some of these parks were identified in a 1994 study by Shropshire County Council, whilst others had been recorded in documentary sources not utilised in the 1983 study. An important part of my research is to attempt to identify,from an archaeological perspective, the physical location of these parks on the ground and produce a distribution map which can be used by future researchers to refine my work further.

Research Progress – Gardens:

The historical understanding of high-status medieval gardens has, until fairly recently, been a subject which historians have primarily been the most prolific in understanding and interpreting. Garden archaeology, as a discipline in its own right has benefited greatly from the application of non-intrusive techniques, such as Geophysical Survey and LiDAR, where both the surface of the ground, and the buried features beneath can be interpreted without the need for excavation. Whilst not a perfect science, it does provide an important extra dimension to the research process.

The definitive text, entitled ‘Mediaeval Gardens’, was published in 1981. Since then there has been no subsequent attempt to produce a successor to this volume, and from my own point of view I have been concentrating on collating evidence, rather than working on its interpretation. However, during this process I have managed to identify the location of the royal garden of Caernarfon Castle, and also understand how it was the most sophisticated in design of all the Edwardian castle gardens, with water playing a very important role in its design.

Research Progress – Designed Landscapes: Without doubt, the most important accomplishment this year has been the submission of an article to the journal ‘Archaeology in Wales’ on the medieval designed landscape around Dolbadarn Castle in north-west Wales. To have my paper accepted, containing revolutionary ideas about the way the castle functioned is something I am incredibly proud of, and as soon as it is published, I will be putting the paper on my blog.

Finally – a note about the crowd funding page at http://www.gofundme.com/medievalgardensandparks

It has had 2,400 shares since it was set up and raised £1000 towards my course fees. I can’t thank all of you enough, and if you think someone else would enjoy reading what I do, please share it with them.

The Medieval Magic in Pit T349

The cover of  the Tywysogion 'Princes' book published to accompany the S4C series

The cover of the Tywysogion ‘Princes’ book published to accompany the S4C series

It is now eleven years since I began work as a researcher and archaeologist on the series Tywysogion ‘Princes’, which was broadcast in 2007. As part of the research work, I visited a number of museums, foraging for stories in the artefacts held there which could become part of the series. One of the stories which did not end up in the finished series was the story of pit T349 .

During the late 1960s and beginning of the 1970s around the castles and towns of Rhuddlan was the place to dig. For several reasons, several areas were opened for archaeological excavations, with a book eventually published about the work: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/cba_rr/rr95.cfm

Note that castles and towns – not castle and town – is the correct form in this instance.

The original Rhuddlan Castle on the right with the Edwardian Rhuddlan Castle on the left. The Anglo-Saxon burgh, the Welsh llys and the Norman town were all in the fields immediately above the motte of the Castle. The Edwardian town is where modern Rhuddlan is  today. .gov.uk/cms/hwbcontent/Shared%20Documents/VTC/ngfl/history/bdag/castles/projects/castles/units/rhuddlan/imagebank/aerial_gtj.jpg

The original Rhuddlan Castle on the right with the Edwardian Rhuddlan Castle on the left. The Anglo-Saxon burgh, the Welsh llys and the Norman town were all in the fields immediately above the motte of the Castle. The Edwardian town is in the top left of the picture where modern Rhuddlan is today.

https://hwb.wales.gov.uk/cms/hwbcontent/Shared%20Documents/VTC/ngfl/history/bdag/castles/projects/castles/units/rhuddlan/imagebank/aerial_gtj.jpg

Excavation site 'T' is marked with a red dot

Excavation site ‘T’ is marked with a red dot

The excavation site ‘T’ was examining what happened to the ditch around the old Norman town as the new castle and associated town were constructed. Pit T349 was cut into the top of the ditch after it had been filled and levelled.

T349 is to be seen at the top of the image

T349 is to be seen at the top of the image

A quote from the excavation report describes T349 far better than I ever could.

Pit T349 (Site T ) deserves special comment. It appeared to have been dug hhrough the final infill of Ditch III, ascribed above to the summer of 1277. The collection of objects it contained is remarkable. The barrel padlock No 86, with a date range within the 11th and 12th centuries, was found with bucket handle No 75 and chain No and the finely worked, unused Whetstone MSF 32 above a layer of lead Which had been poured into the pit around some wooden object. If the collection were prehistoric Would undoubtedly what it labelled ritual. Even around 1277 its deposition suggests some deliberate acts connected with changes in control and perhaps the moving of castle and borough sites.

So what kind of magic is happening here? Finding examples of such events are very rare. Usually, there is a magical element in the process of burying a person, and a large number of bodies have been excavated with something ‘additional’ to the usual which is included as someone is placed in their grave. What might be visible here is the burial of the Welsh community by the Welsh themselves as the new castle is constructed. Interestingly, and something not raised in the original report, is who gave permission for this event to take place? To melt the Lead a fire would have been required, and the items deposited would have to be collected together, items the archaeologist considered were already old when they were deposited. Who carved the now lost wooden object, and what exactly was it? Finally, how many people were part of this important ceremony, and who were they? As I have discovered during this research, this isn’t the only example of magic being used in the medieval period I’ve discovered.

Aberth yn Rhuddlan…ond i pwy a pam?

Un o’r pethau sydd wedi dod yn amlwg yn ystod fy ngwaith ymchwil ac ysgrifennu y blog yma ydi cynlleied o bobl sy’n siarad Cymraeg – neu yn hytrach – yn defnyddio cyfryngau cymdeithasol trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg – sydd yn dilyn a blog. Felly, rhaid codi ymwybyddiaeth o’r gwaith dwi’n gwneud ar eich archaeoleg, hanes a llenyddiaeth chi.

Clawr llyfr 'Tywysogion' gafodd ei gyhoeddi i cyd-fynd efo'r gyfres ar S4C

Clawr llyfr ‘Tywysogion’ gafodd ei gyhoeddi i cyd-fynd efo’r gyfres ar S4C

Mae’n unarddeg mlynedd rwan ers i mi gychwyn fel yr ymchwilydd ac archaeolegydd ar gyfres ‘Tywysogion’. Fel rhan o’r gwaith, roedd rhaid ymweld a nifer o amgueddfeydd, a chwilota am straeon yn y creiriau i fod yn rhan o’r gyfres. Un o’r straeon na orfenodd i fynu yn y gyfres orfennedig yw hanes ceubwll T349.

Yn ystod diwedd y 1960au a chychwyn y 1970au o amgylch cestyll a trefi Rhuddlan oedd y lle i dyllu. Am nifer o rhesymmau, agorwyd nifer o mannau cloddio archaeolegol, ac yn y diwedd cyhoeddwyd gyfrol am y gwaith: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/cba_rr/rr95.cfm

Nodwch mae cestyll a trefi – nid castell a tref – yw’r geiriau cywir.

Castell gwreiddiol Rhuddlan ar y dde gyda castell Edwardaidd Rhuddlan ar y chwith. Roedd y burgh Eingl Sacsonaidd, y Llys Cymreig ac y Tref Normanaidd yn a caeau yn union uwchben mwnt y Castell. Mae'r tref Edwardiadd lle mae Rhuddlan fodern heddiw https://hwb.wales.gov.uk/cms/hwbcontent/Shared%20Documents/VTC/ngfl/history/bdag/castles/projects/castles/units/rhuddlan/imagebank/aerial_gtj.jpg

Castell gwreiddiol Rhuddlan ar y dde gyda castell Edwardaidd Rhuddlan ar y chwith. Roedd y burgh Eingl Sacsonaidd, y Llys Cymreig ac y Tref Normanaidd yn a caeau yn union uwchben mwnt y Castell. Mae’r tref Edwardiadd lle mae Rhuddlan fodern heddiw
https://hwb.wales.gov.uk/cms/hwbcontent/Shared%20Documents/VTC/ngfl/history/bdag/castles/projects/castles/units/rhuddlan/imagebank/aerial_gtj.jpg

Safle cloddio 'T' wedi marcio a dot coch

Safle cloddio ‘T’ wedi marcio a dot coch

Roedd y cloddio yn safle ‘T’ yn edrych ar beth digwyddodd i ffos yr hen dref Normanaidd wrth i’r castell a dref newydd cael ei godi. Roedd ceubwll T349 wedi ei dori i fewn i dop y ffos wedi iddo gael ei ail-lenwi.

Mae T349 i'w weld ar dop y tudalen

Mae T349 i’w weld ar dop y tudalen

Rhaid dyfynnu adroddiad yr archaeolegydd yn y man yma.

Pit T349 (Site T) deserves special comment. It appeared to have been dug through the final infill of Ditch III, ascribed above to the summer of 1277. The collection of objects it contained is remarkable. The barrel padlock No 86, with a possible date range within the 11th and 12th centuries, was found with bucket handle No 75 and chain No 80 and the finely worked, unused whetstone MSF 32 above a layer of lead which had been poured into the pit around some wooden object. If the collection were prehistoric it would undoubtedly be labelled ritual. Even around 1277 its deposition suggests some deliberate act connected with changes in control and perhaps the moving of castle and borough sites.

Felly, pa fath o hud a lledrith sydd yn digwydd yma? Mae darganfod esiampl o digwyddiadau fel hyn yn anarferol iawn. Fel arfer, gwelir hud a lledrith yn rhan o’r brocess o gladdu unigolyn, a mae nifer helaeth o cyrff wedi dod i’r amlwg yn dangos fod rhywbeth ‘ychwanegol’ i’r arferol wedi cael ei cynnwys wrth rhoi y person yn y bedd. Tybed be a welir yma ydi claddu cymuned Cymraeg gan y Cymru wrth i’r castell newydd godi. Yn diddorol, a rhywbeth na godwyd yn y adroddiad gwreiddiol, pwy rhoddodd caniatad i’r digwyddaid yma? I toddi y Plwm rhaid cael tan boeth, a rhaid hefyd casglu y creiriau yma at ei gilydd, rhai mae’r archaeolegydd yn meddwl oedd yn hen ac wedi cael ei cadw. Pwy cerfiodd y gwrthrych pren, a beth yn union oedd hi? Yn olaf, faint o bobl oedd yn rhan o’r serimoni arbennig yma, a pwy oeddyn nhw? Fel dwi wedi darganfod yn ystod y gwaith yma, nid hwn yw’r unig esiampl o hud a lledrith yn cael ei ddefnyddio yn ystod yr oesoedd canol.

Adventures in Space and Time…

This week, I’ve been involved with two different groups and their respective meetings. On Monday I was showing members of Dyddio Hen Dai Cymreig / Dating Old Welsh Houses http://www.datingoldwelshhouses.co.uk/index.html around the site of a medieval llys or manor house known as Sycharth – if you want to know more about Sycharth – my blog posts:

http://medievalparksgardensanddesignedlandscapes.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/to-begin-at-the-beginning-or-has-anyone-seen-that-confounded-bridge/

http://medievalparksgardensanddesignedlandscapes.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/standing-on-the-toes-of-giants/

http://medievalparksgardensanddesignedlandscapes.wordpress.com/2013/06/16/the-revolution-will-be-televised/

will provide you with some context of why I was asked to show this group around. Sycharth (if you’ve either read the above blog posts or know already) was burnt down in the early part of the fifteenth century by Prince Hal – later King Henry V – and his men. With no house to visit – the group wanted to see how the poem which described the site compared to the archaeology excavated in the 1962-63 and 2003 and the geophysical survey undertaken in 1997 and 2009.

Members of DOWH walking up to the site of Sycharth. The ditch around the garden is visible to the right of the central group of walkers.

Members of DOWH walking up to the site of Sycharth. The ditch around the garden is visible to the right of the central group of walkers.

The work of DOWH since their inception in 2004 as the Snowdonia Dendrochronology Project has now funded over 100 denrochronological dates. Go to http://www.scribd.com/doc/53735685/Dendrochronology if you want to know more about this scientific technique.

Standing at the entrance to the llys at Sycharth and explaining how the poem describes the both it and the landscape around it.

Standing at the entrance to the llys at Sycharth and explaining how the poem describes the both the llys and the landscape around it.

On Saturday I was in Aberystwyth giving a version of a blog post which was published on the ‘Beyond Borders’ website in August 2013. http://beyondborders-medievalblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/love-like-hare-monuments-and.html This was at the Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd / Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies http://www.wales.ac.uk/en/CentreforAdvancedWelshCelticStudies/IntroductiontotheCentre.aspx for their Fforwm Beirdd yr Uchelwyr / Poets of the Nobility Forum.

The Centre brought together five researchers who are all looking at different aspects of the Poets and their poetry. As the only archaeologist there it was interesting to see literature specialists would take to my research, and I’m pleased that I had such a positive response to my research and how I am using the poetry to inform my archaeological and historical research.

Left to Right: Professor Dafydd Johnston, Dr Ann Parry Owen, Dr Lowri Haf Morgans, Hanna Hopwood, Spencer Gavin Smith, Dr Cynfael Lake.

Left to Right: Professor Dafydd Johnston, Dr Ann Parry Owen, Dr Lowri Haf Morgans, Hanna Hopwood, Spencer Gavin Smith, Dr Cynfael Lake.

Avengers Assemble…Part II

In 1378 a Mercenary Captain fighting in the Hundred Years War was assassinated. His name was Owain ap Thomas, and he was a Welshman fighting for the French against the English, and his assassination was ordered by the English Crown.

Assassination of Yvain de Galles at the siege of the castle of Mortagne-sur-Gironde - from Jean de Wavrin’s 'Chronique d’Angleterre' British Library Royal 14 e iv

Assassination of Yvain de Galles at the siege of the castle of Mortagne-sur-Gironde – from Jean de Wavrin’s ‘Chronique d’Angleterre’ British Library Royal 14 e iv


[Owain is on the right falling backwards - his assassin, John Lamb, is behind him].

This might sound a sub-plot from ‘Game of Thrones’, but this was all very real and had repercussions which we are only just really beginning to understand in terms of the history, archaeology, literature and art history of this particular man.

Owain ap Thomas was also known as Owain Lawgoch or Yvain de Galles. His career as a mercenary captain in France, Switzerland and Guernsey, lasted from what the documentary sources can tell us from 1363 to 1378. He was buried in the nearby chapel dedicated to St.Leger, and his mercenary company continued on, fighting for the French Crown without him.

The story of Owain ap Thomas was written about by in A.D. Carr (1991). Owen of Wales: The End of the House of Gwynedd. University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-1064-8. Copies are hard to find, but if you are interested in the period you should try and find a copy. The book identified the manors (consisting of a manor house and associated land) which Owain left behind when he went to France, and these were in Powys, Gloucestershire, Cheshire and Surrey. Inquisitions were held by the authorities in each of these places to find out when he had left and what property and possessions he had left behind.

The manor in Surrey was at Tatsfield (Latitude 51.287393; Longitude 0.029869080) and had been in Owain’s family for three generations. His grandfather Rhodri ap Gruffudd (brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd who had been Prince of Gwynedd until his death in 1282) had come into possession of the manor in about 1310, and it belonged to his son Thomas from 1315 to 1363.

I’ve been researching the archaeological evidence for the estates of Owain Lawgoch since 2004, and a paper on them was included in a book published in 2008 entitled ‘Mercenaries and Paid Men: The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages’. You can download a copy of the paper from http://works.bepress.com/spencer_gavin_smith/ The history of Tatsfield in the years after 1363 is for me, particularly fascinating. The manor itself ceased to exist as an administrative entity after Owain left, and it was handed over to the lords of the adjoining manor of Titsey (Latitude 51.278615; Longitude 0.014226437). They constructed a court house in Tatsfield to deal with the administration of the cases that happened there, but they continued only to live in Titsey.

I directed an excavation in Tatsfield in 2004, and the evidence from this and from the historical evidence I’ve also been able to research, suggests that the Manor House there was dealt with in the same way the Llysoedd were removed during the Edwardian Conquest (see http://medievalparksgardensanddesignedlandscapes.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/avengers-assemble-but-where/). The paucity of building materials left on the site suggested careful dismantling rather than simply pushing the building over and rendering it unusable. Doing this would leave a visible marker and a place where assembly could happen, and the proximity to London – only 20 miles to Westminster – would have been an even more potent and visible reminder than a series of castles along the north Wales coast.

Avengers Assemble…but where?

Obliteration.

A very powerful word. It tends to be used to describe the removal of an item from the landscape – and conflict – where ever it may happen, can provide examples of something that was there at one moment only to have ceased to exist in a recognisable form the next.

If you visit a medieval site today, with manicured lawns and helpful guidebook, the most obvious thing to notice is that there is actually something left to visit. Even with a tumultuous event like the Dissolution of the Monasteries, where the communities were removed and buildings stripped of useful materials, much of the fabric can have survived the 500 or so years since the event, albeit with piles of fallen masonry removed and a gift shop for all the essential purchases.

Valle Crucis Abbey (Latitude 52.988696; Longitude -3.1868157) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1e/Valle_Crucis_Abbey.JPG

Valle Crucis Abbey (Latitude 52.988696; Longitude -3.1868157)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1e/Valle_Crucis_Abbey.JPG

Sites composed of earthworks, for example motte and bailey castles, can appear at first glance even more ephemeral. Understanding how each individual lump and bump relates to another does take practice, but an understanding of the typology of different monument types means that even these can be interpreted as the visitor walks around the site.

Earthworks of Tomen y Bala Motte and Bailey Castle (Latitude 52.911565; Longitude -3.5954770)

Earthworks of Tomen y Bala Motte and Bailey Castle (Latitude 52.911565; Longitude -3.5954770)

Some sites however, defy simple interpretation if they have been ‘removed’ from the landscape because of their social, political or cultural importance. During the Croat-Bosnian war in 1993, the 16th century Stari Most bridge over the river Neretva in the City of Mostar, Bosnia (Latitude 43.205425; Longitude 17.483822) was destroyed by Croat forces.

Stari Most bridge over the river Neretva in the City of Mostar, Bosnia (Latitude 43.205425; Longitude 17.483822) prior to destruction.

Stari Most bridge over the river Neretva in the City of Mostar, Bosnia (Latitude 43.205425; Longitude 17.483822) prior to completion of the destruction process.

The removal of the bridge had a twofold purpose. Firstly, access from one side of the river by the inhabitants of Mostar to the other was limited, and secondly the Stari Most bridge was considered one of the most important pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans, and designed by Mimar Hayruddin, an apprentice of architect Mimar Sinan. With the cessation of hostilities, reconstruction of the bridge was considered a priority as the destruction was seen as a deliberate removal of cultural property by the Croatian forces. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) headed up a process which saw the bridge rebuilt and reopened in 2004 http://www.gen-eng.florence.it/starimost/

Here then, we see that cultural pressure can be brought to bear both to destroy and replace an important monument, but what happens when only the first part of the process is carried out?

During the Edwardian Conquest of Wales, part of Edward I’s strategy was to construct a series of castles at strategic points around the North Wales coast. As well as providing places where soldiers could be based in order to react to any Welsh threat, perceived or otherwise, these castles replaced the pre-existing system of llysoedd which served as the administrative centres for the Welsh Princes. The main hall of the llys complex was an important meeting point, and as such Edward had each of them removed, either taking them down and recycling their component parts into other buildings or moving them to be reconstructed within one of the new castles.

Ystumgwern Hall, reconstructed within Harlech Castle (Latitude 52.859926; Longitude -4.1092917). Originally from the Llys at Ystumgwern - location not known but general centre of Ystumgwern at Latitude 52.795159; Longitude -4.1002822.

Ystumgwern Hall, reconstructed within Harlech Castle (Latitude 52.859926; Longitude -4.1092917). Originally from the Llys at Ystumgwern – location not known but general centre of Ystumgwern (Latitude 52.795159; Longitude -4.1002822).

The removal of the hall from the llys complex at Ystumgwern meant that the location was subsequently lost to future generations who might have used the halls as a meeting point at which to assemble and plan a revolt against their new rulers. As archaeologists we can apply a suite of techniques to search for the llys complex and find out more about why these locations were so important, but we cannot replace these buildings in the landscape in the same way the Stari Most bridge has been replaced.

Next week’s blog post will examine the fate of a llys complex and its inhabitants with a very particular story to tell.

Again, thank you for your support through http://www.gofundme.com/medievalgardensandparks – the last fortnight brought another £25 in donations towards my PhD course fees.

A Real Sense of Power…

The process of writing this PhD has brought with it a feeling of wonder. How, as I’ve rediscovered lost sites and changed people’s perception of previously identified ones, that they were all already there in the landscape that we all use for our own lives, and that we can pass by them every day without giving them a second thought.

A couple of weeks ago there was a post on a group on Facebook highlighting an excellent resource of the National Library of Scotland. http://maps.nls.uk/os/ has a series of searchable Ordnance Survey maps which date – depending on where you live – from 1842 to 1961. Now, in case you haven’t realised by now, I love maps and mapping, and dove straight in to wallow in all this digitised loveliness.

The first place I looked at was, as I am sure many of you also do when you pick up a map, was my home town. In case you are new to the blog, I’m from Wrexham in North East Wales (Latitude 53.045083; Longitude -2.9931521). I selected the earliest map available http://maps.nls.uk/view/102341204 and opened it up.

A few months ago I gave a lecture at the University of Worcester to the archaeology undergraduates, and one of the questions I was asked was ‘How do you know you can see a park in the landscape if it’s not marked as one?’ It’s a difficult question to answer because, as with everyone who has had training in a specialism, sometimes you just ‘know’. However, this piece of map work might explain the methodology a little more clearly.

This is the image that appeared when I opened the map:

Denbighshire Sheet XXVIII Surveyed: 1872 Published: 1879

Denbighshire Sheet XXVIII
Surveyed: 1872
Published: 1879

Parkland – or rather – private parkland around high status houses is shaded in a mid-grey colour, and the town of Wrexham can be seen on the right hand side of the map.

Detail of Denbighshire Sheet XXVIII Surveyed: 1872 Published: 1879

Detail of Denbighshire Sheet XXVIII
Surveyed: 1872
Published: 1879

This parkland is an estate known as Plas Power (‘Plas’ is the Welsh word for Palace or high status house). Although it isn’t very far from where I was brought up, I have to confess I didn’t know very much about it. The parkland is surrounded by high walls and it is still a private estate. The church is accessible, situated outside the parkland, but inside those walls is one of those locations which has been perpetually off limits. I was aware that Plas Power, the house itself, had been demolished in after World War II and there were photographs of the building which has been taken prior to this.

Plas Power Hall prior to demolition

Plas Power Hall prior to demolition

When I’d opened the map originally I’d spotted a darker colour oval shape within the Plas Power parkland (if you want to go back to the original map at this point you might be able to see this) and to me, that oval seemed to be very similar in size and shape to the deer park enclosure at Eyton which has a long and well attested history and which I’ve previously blogged about here: http://medievalparksgardensanddesignedlandscapes.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/making-the-familiar-unfamiliar/

Detail of Denbighshire Sheet XXVIII Surveyed: 1872 Published: 1879

Detail of Denbighshire Sheet XXVIII
Surveyed: 1872
Published: 1879

Detail of Denbighshire Sheet XXXV Surveyed: 1872 to 1873 Published: 1879

Detail of Denbighshire Sheet XXXV
Surveyed: 1872 to 1873
Published: 1879

A full site visit will have to wait for the owners permission, but I was able to use the ‘Clywedog Trail’ http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/leisure_tourism/clywedog_trail.htm to access a viewpoint to the south of the site which allowed me the opportunity to take a picture of the southern boundary of the site.

Southern Edge of the Plas Power Enclosure

Southern Edge of the Plas Power Enclosure

What is immediately visible from the photograph is that the western boundary has a very steep edge. This would fit with keeping deer within an enclosure of this type, and in addition the LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/research/landscapes-and-areas/aerial-survey/archaeology/lidar/ appears to back up my hypothesis. This identification of this enclosure is excellent news, because it means there is another early enclosure which I can compare directly others previously recognised.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their support. The message I sent via Twitter two weeks ago is still being re-tweeted and has raised another £25 towards my course fees. If you think you can help, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/medievalgardensandparks