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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 August, 2005, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Medieval cliff cemetery unearthed
Polly Groom
Polly Groom with one of the stone lined graves found at the site
A medieval cemetery, along with remains of some of those buried there, have been unearthed near cliffs in Pembrokeshire.

Archaeologists are now speculating the site at West Angle Bay may house an even older burial ground and possibly the remains of an ancient chapel.

They believe the cemetery dates back to around 900 to 1000 AD but are waiting for the results of carbon dating tests.

Students from Cardiff University helped with the excavation.

The graves are inter-cutting each other so the cemetery was obviously in use for some time and was getting quite full
Polly Groom, archaeologist

The team started the dig two weeks ago after a skeleton was found close to the cliff face.

It had long been thought the site was home to a pre-Norman cemetery but Pembrokeshire Coast National Park archaeologist Polly Groom said they did not get off to a promising start.

"Our initial investigations, close to the cliff bank where stone graves had originally been noted, did not reveal anything," she explained.

"When we moved to a new location a little further from the cliff we made several significant discoveries."

She said they found at least six stone-lined graves and believe both adults and children were buried there.

The dig is taking place on the cliff-top
The dig took place on the cliff-top at West Angle bay

"The graves are inter-cutting each other so the cemetery was obviously in use for some time and was getting quite full," she said.

Ms Groom said why the site was chosen for a cemetery was "the million dollar question".

"We've got some evidence, but it is very early to say, that it was already an existing cemetery site so what we are speculating is that there was an earlier cemetery there so it was already seen as a holy site.

"It is possible that some remains of the chapel building is still there.

"There is so much local legend that there was a chapel there it would be lovely to prove or disprove that."

The dig, a joint project between the National Park and Cambria Archaeology, was funded by Cadw.

The site is now being backed filled but the team hope to return for further investigation.

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