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Dinas Dinlle Iron Age fort saved from erosion

Workers on Dinas Dinlle
The site's gradient posed some interesting challenges

The National Trust and Cadw have joined forces to safeguard an historic hillfort on the Gwynedd coast.

The ground up to the Iron Age ruins at Dinas Dinlle, near Caernarfon, has suffered erosion from the many walkers who've climbed up to view the site.

According to the legends of the Mabinogi, the fort was the childhood home of its namesake, Lleu Llaw Gyffes, with 'Din' meaning fort and 'lle' derived from Lleu.

To safeguard its future, funding was found to build a new footpath to skirt around the damaged northern ramparts, allowing specialists time to complete the necessary work.

National Trust warden for Eifionydd, Dave Smith, said: "The erosion by the sea is not something that we can influence, but there was a deep erosion scar on the northern rampart which had been caused by walkers.

"The steepness of the ramparts, originally designed to keep people out, certainly caused us some difficulty with the work.

"A tracked dumper, hired for the job, and designed for working on steep ground, was unable to get up the ramparts unaided and had to be winched up by hand.

Dinas Dinlle Iron Age fort.  Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
A rectangular mound in the centre could have been a Roman lighthouse

"By building wooden shuttering, and then back-filling with soil, the scar was eventually filled and then turf was laid on top to speed up the recovery process."

Archaeology suggests the fort was built around 2,500 years ago for status and defence. Coins and other artefacts from the second century AD suggest the Romans also occupied this site.

When first built, Dinas Dinlle was some distance from the coast, but the western part of the fort has now been lost to the sea,

Toby Driver, Iron Age expert at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, said:

"It was surrounded by salt marshes and would have stood out proud as a place for people to come and have markets and fairs.


"The ramparts are all grass-grown now, but we know from surface evidence that it would have had a deep stone-walled entrance passage with a wooden bridge over the top of it, to continue the ramparts. It would have been very intimidating."

There's also evidence of an ancient golf course and a pharos - a Roman lighthouse similar to the one in Caer y Twr, Holyhead.

"A seagull trench at the site was used as a Second World War coastal defence," Toby added. "It looks out over what is now Caernarfon airport.

"It's nice to have a 20th century defence on an Iron Age defence; it shows the position has always been an important one."

Dinas Dinlle is denoted a Site of Special Scientific Interest because the exposed cliffs show the different layers of glacial deposits.

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