DARREN CAMP HILLFORT, DAREN;BANC Y DARREN;BANC-Y-DARREN
Map Reference SN68SE
Grid Reference SN67908302
Unitary (Local) Authority Ceredigion
Old County Cardiganshire
Type of Site HILLFORT
Broad Class Defence
Period Iron Age
Site Description Darren Camp, commands a prominent position, some 290m above sea level, at the eastern end of an ascending ridge between the valleys of Nant Silo and Peithyll. It is a strongly sited fort, and comprises a single strong rampart, enclosing an oval area c0.44 ha (49m east-west by 108m north-south). To the west of the main rampart four lines of outworks cut off the main ridge giving added protection to the fort and its main gateway. The exact plan of these outworks is however obscured by an opencast mine and its accompanying spoil tips (NPRN 33835). In addition to the main western gateway, two further gateways were located on the east and north side of the fort. Within the fort there is evidence of a broad quarry ditch and elsewhere across the interior there are slight traces of terracing together with possible platforms. On the summit there stands a low cairn (NPRN: 404049), presumably of Early Bronze Age date and some 10m to the north of this there are the slight traces of what may be a second cairn (NPRN: 404050).
A detailed survey of the hillfort was carried out by Ceredigion Archaeological Survey in the 1980s (Thorburn 1987), although this was superceded by a new survey by Louise Barker of the Royal Commission to coincide with the 2005 excavations. In 1996 a small excavation at the west gate was carried out by T Driver (1996), to record a section of revetment wall exposed by severe erosion within the south gate terminal. A small cordoned pot sherd recovered from this excavation has Late Bronze Age parallels, a type similar to that excavated from the early Breidden hillfort in Clwyd (Davies and Lynch 2000, 199; Musson 1991). In June 2005 RCAHMW carried out a detailed 1:1000 scale survey of the fort and adjacent mine workings, prior to a small scale excavation by the Early Mines Research Group, whose primary objective was to look at the relationship between the fort and the mine, in hope of ascertaining a date for the initial exploitation of Darren Lode (a silver-lead vein). Recent research has also helped to place the architecture of the fort in its regional context (Driver 2013), while research by Aberystwyth University examined metalworking evidence from within the hillfort (Haylock 2015).
Davies, J L and Hogg, A H A. 1994. The Iron Age, in Davies and Kirby (eds). Cardiganshire County History. Volume 1, From the earliest times to the coming of the Normans, Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Davies, J.L. & Lynch, F. 2000. The Late Bronze and Iron Age, in Lynch, F. Aldhouse-Green, S. & Davies, J.L. Prehistoric Wales, Sutton Publishing, 139-219.
Driver, T G. 1996. Darren Hillfort, Trefeurig (SN 678 830), Ceredigion, Archaeology in Wales 36, 61.
Driver, T. 2013. Architecture, Regional Identity and Power in the Iron Age landscapes of Mid Wales: The hillforts of north Ceredigion. BAR 583, Archaeopress.
Driver, T. 2016. The Hillforts of Cardigan Bay. Logaston Press.
Haylock, K. 2015. The Relationship between Iron Age Hill Forts, Roman Settlements and Metallurgy on the Atlantic Fringe. Unpublished PhD thesis. Aberystwyth University.
Timberlake, S. 2007. Darren Camp and Darren Mine, Banc y Darren, Trefeurig (SN 679 830). The Radiocarbon Dates. Archaeology in Wales 46 (2006), 182-3.
Timberlake, S. and Driver, T., 2006. Excavations at Darren Camp and Darren Mines (opencuts), Banc-y-darren, Trefeurig, Ceredigion. Archaeology in Wales 45 (2005), 98-102.
Thornburn, J. 1987 Pen y daren, Trefeirig (SN 679 830). Archaeology in Wales 27, 34.
T Driver, RCAHMW, 7th April 2004
Louise Barker, RCAHMW, 21 Feb 2006