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Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 301244

Map Reference SM70NE

Grid Reference SM79920567

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Dale


Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Multiperiod

Site Description 1. Great Castle Head promontory fort is a coastal promontory enclosure, sundered by landslips, with an interior denuded by erosion, defined by two lines of rampart, ditch & counterscarp, showing a possible, centrally placed entrance: excavation in 1993-4 demonstrated occupation beginning in the early to middle Iron Age and contnuing through at least into the Roman period: the site appears to have been adapted as a medieval, castle fortification, being eventually abandoned in the 13th century.

Source: Crane, P. 1999. Iron Age Promontory Fort to Medieval castle? Excavations at Great Castle Head, Dale, Pembrokeshire, 1999. Archaeologia Cambrensis. pp.86-145.

2. Weather and waves have taken their toll on Great Castle Head for over two millennia. The site has some of the most massive promontory defences of all the Pembrokeshire coastal forts. In the late 1990s, with a serious danger that the remainder of the fort might be lost to coastal erosion without record, an excavation was mounted by Cambria Archaeology, funded by Cadw. As at Porth y Rhaw, the work revealed that the fort had been densely occupied, with the defences originally finished with stone walls and timber work. Postholes, a spindle-whorl and sherds of pottery confirmed Iron Age and Roman occupation, but finds of medieval pottery also suggested to the excavator, Pete Crane, that this may have been refortified as the first Dale Castle when the Normans occupied south Pembrokeshire. A First World War cap badge was also found, probably lost when the fort was used as a look-out post for coastal defence. (From: Pembrokeshire - Historic Landscapes from the Air, RCAHMW 2007).

T. Driver, RCAHMW, 2nd December 2009

3. Visited by T. Driver & L. Barker for CHERISH Project, 2nd Feb 2017.

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