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PENCOED-FOEL, CAMP;PENCOED-Y-FOEL;PENCOED Y FOEL HILLFORT

Site Details



NPRN 92243

Map Reference SN44SW

Grid Reference SN42474277

Unitary (Local) Authority Ceredigion

Old County Cardiganshire

Community Llandysul

Type of Site DEFENDED ENCLOSURE, HILLFORT

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Iron Age

Site Description 1. Pencoed-y-foel hillfort is an oval, banked and ditched enclosure, about 160m from north-east to south-west by 128m defined by degraded banks and scarps. It probably has a north-east facing entrance, and it crowns the summit of an isolated hill.

2.The fort is supremely well sited on a locally prominent and domed summit commanding the confluence of two small rivers bordering the Teifi. The hillfort has an interesting plan; its otherwise curving perimeter turns sharply to form a flattened northern side. This appears to be a deliberate design feature. Historic quarrying has disturbed parts of the hillfort (Driver 2016).

3. Two halves of a bronze collar, possibly of the late first century BC or early first century AD, together with horse teeth, were recovered, apparently from a pit, during quarrying in 1896. Three areas of active quarrying are depicted on the 1889 and 1905 Ordnance Survey County series maps (Cardigan. XL.11 & 15), perhaps the most likely as a findspot being that at SN42274255, about 200m south-west of the enclosure (RCAHMW 2003).

4. The Pencoed y Foel Neck Ring: Chance finds such as the Pencoed-y-foel bronze neck-ring can shine a light into the darkness of late prehistory and early history, in this case late Iron Age or Romano-British times in the 1st or early 2nd century AD. This rare piece shows us the delicate beauty and quality of the jewellery of a wealthy hillfort occupant. Appearing bright like glistening gold when new, the Pencoed-y-foel neck-ring (previously referred to as a ‘collar’ (Megaw 1971) would have been a showy and expensive piece. The intricately flowing and sinuous design based upon leaves, berries or vines owes its origins to the European La Tène Art style. Wearing it would have proclaimed the owner’s vast wealth and international perspective.

Measuring 15 centimetres in diameter, the neck-ring is similar to a handful of others from south Wales and south-west England (Nowakowski et al. 2009). All share a rear hinge, worn at the back of the neck, and a larger joint at the front. In 2005 a similar neck-ring was discovered by a metal detectorist in a field in Boverton in the Vale of Glamorgan, in that case with both halves surviving. The Boverton example was fixed with a tongue-and-recess mechanism and shows how the Pencoed-y-foel neck-ring might have been fastened. Archaeologists from the National Museum Wales returned promptly to the Boverton findspot and were able to excavate a complete and fragmentary bracelet as well as bones from what was clearly a disturbed burial; the interned body was probably female.

Unfortunately we only now have one half of the Pencoed-y-foel ring. In the summer of 1896 Eleazer Davies, a farm baliff of Gellifaharen, reportedly dug up ‘two brooches’ or ‘handles’ whilst quarrying on the side of the hillfort, along with some horse teeth [end note: Evans, G. E. 1927. By the time it was exhibited in 1901 only one half of the neck-ring remained and it can now been seen in the collections of the National Museum Wales, Cardiff, on loan from Bristol Museum (Driver 2016).

References:

Davies & Hogg 1994 (in Cardigan County Hist.), 2b.

Driver, T. 2016. The Hillforts of Cardigan Bay. Logaston Press

Evans, G. E. 1927. Llandyssul Parish: Part of a Late Celtic Bronze Collar. The Transactions of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society and Field Club, Vol. XXI, Part 51, 1-2.

Megaw, J.V.S. 1971. Art of the European Iron Age: a study of the elusive image. Adams and Dart: Bath.

Nowakowski, J., Gwilt, A., Megaw, V. & La Niece, S. 2009. A Late Iron Age neck-ring from Pentire, Newquay, Cornwall, with a note on the find from Boverton, Vale of Glamorgan, Antiquaries Journal 89, 35-52.

T. Driver, RCAHMW, 2016

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