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BLACK POINT RATH

Site Details

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

NPRN 305331

Map Reference SM81NE

Grid Reference SM85971527

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community The Havens

Type of Site PROMONTORY FORT

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Iron Age

Site Description 1. Black Point Rath is a cliff-top banked and ditched enclosure, some 92m by 38m set above cliffs to the south; hard against the cliff-top on the east is a possible causewayed entrance; the site is actively eroding and subsiding. An excavation, apparently in the central area of the enclosure, reported in 1897, explored two stone-built, contiguous circular structures, which produced two pottery sherds of contrasting fabric, the finer, of a 'deep yellow'/orange fabric, thought to have been hand made, along with two 'rough' spindle-whorls, ox bones and shells.

Source: Phillips 1897 (AC 5th series 14), 41-4.

J.Wiles 26.01.05

2. 2006 description of the site: Black Point Rath is shown on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map of 1889 as a univallate promontory fort. The map shows the fort naturally defended by high sea cliffs to the west and south, and by a curving bank approximately 120m long with an external ditch to the north and east. An entrance lies between the bank terminal at the south end and the edge of the cliffs. The internal area is about 120m E - W and 35m N - S, although it is likely that by 1889 a considerable amount had already been lost to the sea.

The fort is suffering severe coastal erosion (Fig. 10). The whole of the promontory is slowly crumbling into the sea and resembles a blancmange sliding off a plate. The fort is probably 5m to 10m lower than it was 100 years ago, and great fissures have opened up all over its surface making a visit an extremely hazardous operation. However, some details of the fort are still visible. The bank stands to over 3m high internally and over 5m above the base of the ditch. Where it has cracked open the shattered stone composition of the bank is clearly visible. On a previous visit in 2001 a chevaux de frise was visible beneath the bank, but erosion has now removed it.

The Royal Commission in 1925 record that the Rev. J Phillips excavated two hut circles within the fort and found charcoal, two spindle whorls, ox bone, teeth, oyster and mussel shells, a piece of pottery and a burnt clay floor.

As erosion and loss at this site has been so dramatic and sudden it has not been possible to document it through remote sensing data other than to note that what was up to the 1970s a reasonably intact site has suffered catastrophic damage over the past 40 years. This erosion, damage and loss is best depicted on oblique aerial photographs.

Reference:
Page, M., Barker, L., Driver, T. and Murphy, K. 2008. Remote sensing and the Iron Age coastal promontory forts of Pembrokeshire, Archaeology in Wales 48, 27-38.

T. Driver, RCAHMW

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