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SKOMER ISLAND

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 402711

Map Reference SM70NW

Grid Reference SM7269009460

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Marloes and St Brides

Type of Site ISLAND

Broad Class UNASSIGNED

Period General

Site Description Skomer Island (a Scandinavian word which describes the cloven shape of the island) ranks among the finest archaeological landscapes in Britain (see record NPRN 24369 for its settlements and field systems). Its comparative isolation from the mainland, and the limited impact of recent agriculture, has meant that considerable tracts of Skomer have not been ploughed or built on since prehistoric times. It is now famed for its wildlife and ecosystems, but on the unploughed parts of the island small huts, animal pounds, farmsteads and elaborate systems of fields survive from the Bronze and Iron Ages to show us the ways in which our prehistoric ancestors lived and worked the land. A detailed survey by John Evans, published in 1990, together with earlier survey work by W F Grimes, have been added to and partly superceded by new aerial and ground survey by the Royal Commission and Sheffield University which has been ongoing since 2011 (see Barker et. al. 2012).

Toulson and Forbes (In: 1992 'The Drovers' Roads of Wales II. Pembrokeshire and the South. Whittet Books, London) record that Skomer, Skokholm and Middleholm were used as a 'pasturage for sheep, kyne and oxen as well as horses' (p. 56) and that animals were brought back to the mainland hobbled in straw-filled craft to land at Martin's Haven below Wooltack Point, or were swum across to and from the island. A built ramp on the north-eastern side of The Neck allowed access for livestock up from a beach landing. See NPRN 411557.

Sources:
Grimes in Archaeologia Cambrensis 101 (1950), 1-20
Evans in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 56 (1990), 247-67
Driver, T, 2007. Pembrokeshire: Historic Landscapes from the Air. RCAHMW, pp.77-83
Barker, L., Davis, O., Driver, T. and Johnston, R. 2012. Puffins amidst prehistory: re-interpreting the complex landscape of Skomer Island, In: Britnell, W.J. and Silvester, R. J. (eds.), Reflections on the Past, Essays in Honour of Frances Lynch. Cambrian Archaeological Association. Pp. 280-302.

Other features on Skomer include:
The settlements and field systems (NPRN 24369)
'The Churchyard' (NPRN 305370)
South Castle (NPRN 305371)
Harold's Stone (NPRN 305372)
Skomer Island hut group 8, site of 2014 excavation (NPRN 420196)

T. Driver & L. Barker, RCAHMW 2013 & 2014.

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