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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Ancient graves found on cliffs
Cliff-face grave
Archaeologists used ropes to access the cliff-face graves
A 1,250-year-old cliff-face cemetery has been found in Pembrokeshire revealing the county's early Christian past.

Two skeletons dating from the Dark Ages of around 750AD have been recovered and a stone with a carefully chiselled cross has also been found.

Archaeologists had to work using ropes to reach the site at Longoar Bay, near St Ishmaels.

The graves were discovered by chance by Steve Brick who works for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The site was impossible for us to reach but from our researches we realised that this area was likely to be the site of an early Christian cemetery
Phil Bennett

"Steve was monitoring the coast path and found this new cliff fall," explained the park authority's heritage manager Phil Bennett.

"Through binoculars he noted what looked like graves in the cliff-face, similar to ones already known about at St Brides Haves."

Mr Bennett has enlisted the help of the Church in Wales and a television production company to find out more about the site.

The Dean of St David's, the Very Rev Wyn Evans, an authority on early Christianity in Wales, has been closely involved.

"He told us to look out for inscriptions on stones covering the graves and we were delighted to find a very well rafted simple cross," said Mr Bennett.

Grave marking
A stone used to cover one of the graves has a chiselled cross on it

The stone is now being kept at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff after recording and analysis by the city's university archaeology department.

Mr Bennett said: "The site was impossible for us to reach but from our researches we realised that this area was likely to be the site of an early Christian cemetery.

"The involvement of the TV company opened up the opportunity for the cliff-face graves to be investigated and recorded by archaeologists working off ropes."

Footage will be used as part of the next series of Extreme Archaeology on Channel 4.

"Hi-tech equipment was used at the top of the cliff and two graves were detected," he added.

"These were excavated, filmed and recorded and each found to contain the remains of a female.

"One may have had an infant burial above it but no bones were found."

The site is on private land and not accessible to the public.

But Mr Bennett said: "We have worked closely with the landowner to ensure its protection."


SEE ALSO:
Schoolboy digs up medieval ring
21 May 04  |  South West Wales
Divers find shipwreck treasure
21 Aug 02  |  Wales


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