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Archaeological dig uncovers the past in Llay

Digging on the site of Caer Alyn
Volunteers are working with experts to learn more about Caer Alyn's past

By Phil Cox, project archaeologist
Since 2002, archaeologists and local enthusiasts have been digging at the site of an Iron Age hillfort in Llay, Wrexham

Take a walk on the banks of the River Alyn from Bradley to Llay, what we call today the Caer Alyn project area, and you will see few glimpses of its former glory.

Gone are the Iron Age people who built the Caer Alyn hillfort and Watts Dyke, and gone are the wheels that drove Medieval mill machines. Today, we're using the landscape to tell the story of the past.

Among the finds at Caer Alyn
Finds tray... Among the collection is an old spinning whorl
Bronze Age rock art
Iron Age hillfort interior structures
Medieval mill buildings
Late Medieval brush
Elizabethan silver penny

The Caer Alyn project started with just one test pit as part of the Channel 4 TV programme, Time Team's Big Dig in 2002. Since then the Caer Alyn community archaeological heritage project has gone from strength to strength.

Excavations at the site over the last two years have recovered artefacts and other evidence that have opened up the medieval history of the site.

Also discovered on site has been Bronze Age rock art - the only example recorded in north east Wales to date.

The stone has been deliberately placed in the retaining wall feature at the entrance to dry stonewall chamber of unknown date.

Perhaps the most evocative find to date is a small hand brush about 15cm (5.9in] in length. This little brush was recovered from a late medieval context. What it was used for is still being debated.

The work of the volunteers during 2009 continued to open up new pages of Caer Alyn's history, from a small medieval industrial workshop and associated enclosure, located on the plateau above the River Alyn, to a possible prehistoric enclosure below the Bryn Alyn hillfort.

There are currently 35 volunteers working at Caer Alyn, undertaking different aspects of archaeology, from surveying to research. More volunteers are welcome to join.

For further details visit www.caeralyn.org




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