Moel-y-Gaer, Bodfari - view from north
Gary Lock and John Pouncett
Archaeologists from the University of Oxford are carrying out a programme of research at Moel-y-Gaer, Bodfari in North Wales. Moel-y-Gaer, Bodfari is the smallest of a series of well-preserved but poorly understood Iron Age hillforts on the Clwydian Range. Research is intended to:
- Integrate the hillfort into recent work carried out in the region as part of the Heather and Hillforts Project;
- Attempt to understand the chronological and social complexities of the hillforts of the Clwydian Range.
Topographical and geophysical surveys carried out in 2011 identified a series of areas of interest that form the basis of an on-going programme of excavation. Two trenches were excavated in the interior of the hillfort during the course of the initial season of excavation in 2012.
Trench 1 was excavated to investigate a probable house platform located just inside the northern entrance of the hillfort. Two opposing quadrants were excavated across the house platform, intersecting at the centre of a circular geophysical anomaly tentatively thought to correspond to a roundhouse. An earth and rubble bank, incorporating four large boulders, was identified in the northwest quadrant. This bank would have created an imposing façade for anyone entering the hillfort through the northern entrance. A metalled surface, comprised of rammed stone, was identified in the southwest quadrant. This surface created an area of hard standing close to the eastern edge of the house platform. Two artefacts, a stone spindle whorl and a crude sherd of pottery, indicative of domestic activity were recovered from Trench 1. Excavation of the house platform will continue in 2013.
Trench 2 was excavated to assess a series of pit-like geophysical anomalies identified within the interior of the hillfort. Two irregular features were identified in the base of the trench: a shallow scoop thought to correspond to a tree bole and a sub-circular ‘pit’ that had been heavily disturbed by burrowing and bracken roots. A circular pit was also identified along the eastern edge of the trench. All three features could be correlated with geophysical anomalies. With the possible exception of a piece of burnt stone from the lower levels of the circular pit, no artefacts were recovered from Trench 2.
A limited programme of geophysics was carried out at the same time as the excavation of Trenches 1 and 2. Resistivity survey of the interior of the hillfort was completed, linking the areas surveyed previously in 2011. The gradiometer survey carried out in 2011 was also extended to include the level area, immediately to the north of the hillfort. Systematic magnetic susceptibility sampling was also implemented during the course of the excavation of Trench 1. Further geophysical survey is planned in 2013.
An open day and two guided walks were organised during the course of the excavations in conjunction with Fiona Gale from Denbighshire County Council. Approximately 50 people attended the open day and guided walks, many of whom had previously attended the open day or guided walks in 2011. Links with local archaeological/historical societies and professional organisations were also established, fostering relationships that will lead to increased participation from local volunteers in future seasons.