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Uplands Initiative Field Projects 2003-2004. Eastern Snowdonia (North) Survey Area, North Wales. Archaeological Survey Report.

Schofield, Peter (2004) Uplands Initiative Field Projects 2003-2004. Eastern Snowdonia (North) Survey Area, North Wales. Archaeological Survey Report. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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An archaeological identification survey of the Eastern Snowdonia (North) area of North Wales (SH 720 730 centred) was undertaken in November 2003 and with a further phase of
investigation in January and February 2004 (Fig 1). The work was undertaken by Oxford Archaeology North (OA North) on behalf of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) as part of the Uplands Initiative. The fieldwork consisted of an identification survey to identify, locate and describe archaeological and historical features within the defined survey area.

The survey area of Eastern Snowdonia (North) is located on the northern edge of the Snowdonia range within the old county of Caenarvonshire; the majority of it is within the Snowdonia National Park, on open crags forming the flanks of the Carneddau ridge and moorland plateaux overlooking Conwy Bay to the north and the mouth of the Conwy valley to the east. The study area incorporates parts of both the North Arllechwedd (Gw)12 and Lower Conwy Valley (Gw)4 Historic Landscapes within the Register of Landscapes of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales and an extensive area of Eastern Snowdonia to the south of the study area has been previously surveyed by Cambrian Archaeological Projects Ltd. The OA North 2003-2004 survey area comprised c30 sqkm, encompassing enclosed and improved agricultural land, as well as large open tracts of heath and grassed moorland.

There was abundant evidence of human activity across practically the entire study area during the prehistoric period; the utilisation of the moorland landscape having its origins in the upland economies and lithic procurement of the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. On the northern limits of the study area is the Graiglwyd axe factory and ritual/ceremonial monuments abound across the study area, the most spectacular of which is the complex of stone circles and funerary cairns located on Cefn Coch and Cors y Carneddau just to the south of the axe factory. Some of these funerary monuments appear to define the line of a putative prehistoric routeway extending out from the axe factory and there is a further possible routeway extending east/west across the natural pass of Bwlch y Ddeufaen. This
latter routeway was subsequently adopted by a Roman Road. Bronze Age settlement in the area is suggested by the presence of cairnfields and large numbers of burnt mounds on the boggy, gently sloping plateaux of the area.

The Iron Age was marked by the Braich y Dinas hillfort above Penmaenmawr and the much smaller Dinas hillfort on the igneous outcrop overlooking Llanfairfechan. In the Roman period the most obvious feature is the course of the Roman road that ran from Canovium fort, located on the Conwy to the east, and extended westwards towards Segontium fort at Caernarfon, using for part of its length the line of a prehistoric routeway. Settlement that has generally been ascribed to the Roman or Iron Age periods consists of enclosed hut circles that are widely distributed across the study area.

Medieval settlement is well represented within the study area in the form of many farmsteads with surrounding field-systems and evidence for cultivation within the fringes
of the present day enclosed lands. However, the same settlement practice continued into the post-medieval period, and there is a possibility that some of these settlements were reused or founded in the post-medieval period. The medieval period is also represented by numerous shielings on the higher unenclosed lands.

The post-medieval period saw the continuation of the medieval settlement patterns, but also the establishment of numerous stock control enclosures across the unenclosed lands. Stone and slate extraction became the major industry within the local area during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The largest extraction site (to the north of the study area) started life as two independent quarries at Graiglwyd and Penmaenmawr with the exploitation of the igneous rock of the Penmaen outcrop from the 1830s.

In total, 283 new sites were identified in addition to the 227 sites already known. The new sites included four burnt mounds, 17 cairns and cairnfields, 16 field boundaries and fieldsystems,20 clearance cairns, six hut circles, 16 farmsteads and farmhouses, 44 longhouses and shielings, ten quarries, six trackways and 86 stock management features.

The survey has highlighted a very significant prehistoric resource and there is a need for selective excavation and dating to rationalise the chronological relationships of the
landscape. There is also a need for pollen analysis to elucidate the vegetational history of the area and to define the impact of man upon it. The often extensive multi-phased fieldsystems and settlement on the fringes of the study area and the Dinas and Caer Bach hillforts require further intensive survey to enhance previous work.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > Welsh Unitary Authorities > Conwy
Period > UK Periods > Bronze Age 2500 - 700 BC
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology North
Depositing User: hall
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2022 13:50
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2022 13:50
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/6570

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