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SKOMER ISLAND, EXCAVATED LYNCHET NEAR SOUTH STREAM SETTLEMENT

Site Details


NPRN 421994

Map Reference SM70NW

Grid Reference SM72760912

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Marloes and St Brides

Type of Site FIELD BOUNDARY, LYNCHET

Period Prehistoric

Site Description Between 5th-8th April 2017, the Skomer Island Project Team undertook a small excavation (8m x 0.6m) on a deep field lynchet in the southern part of the island in a bid to recover undisturbed deposits and buried soils suitable for multiple analyses. It is hoped that charcoal and luminescence samples (by Aberystwyth University) taken from the lynchet may help to establish absolute chronological markers for key phases in the development of the Island’s fields and settlements, while further environmental sampling (by Cardiff University) will allow the more accurate reconstruction the environmental history of the island. Samples were also taken for the micromorphological analysis of soils by the University of Sheffield.

The previous year’s (2016) excavated section of a field lynchet in the North Stream settlement was successful in allowing us to characterise the field boundary; however bracken penetration and a lose stone/soil matrix meant that the lower layers of the lynchet were not sufficiently intact and sealed to allow scientific dating, either by radiocarbon or OSL. The results of palaeoenvironmental and macrofossil analysis by Aberystwyth University is awaited at the time of writing.

The 2017 trench, aligned north-south, was excavated to a depth of 1.1m; the lower levels were waterlogged reflecting both a previously wet winter and the proximity of the lynchet to the boggy valley of South Stream. Seven contexts were identified, revealing an instructive sequence illustrating the clearance of initial field stone early in the history of the boundary, followed by successive build ups of cleared stone, plough soil and – crucially – layers of hillwash from higher slopes to the north which contributed to the overall depth of deposition in the lynchet.

The team comprising Bob Johnston (University of Sheffield), Oliver Davis (Cardiff Uiversity), Louise Barker and Toby Driver (RCAHMW) was joined by Professor Geoff Duller from Aberystwyth University’s luminescence laboratory who undertook sampling under controlled conditions.

T. Driver & L. Barker, RCAHMW, April 2017

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