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Site Details

NPRN 306900

Map Reference SJ16SW

Grid Reference SJ1487561735

Unitary (Local) Authority Denbighshire

Old County Denbighshire

Community Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd

Type of Site HILLFORT

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Iron Age

Site Description 1. A great Prehistoric fortress crowns a spur of Moel Famau that towers above the Vale of Clwyd. The fort is roughly oval, about 200m north-south by 180m with an area of 2.7ha. Some 'diggings' were undertaken in 1849, but the site is otherwise unexcavated.
The fort is enclosed by two lines of ramparts separated by a ditch. The outer rampart is a massive drystone construction and the inner rampart is probably a similar construction. There are outworks on the north and north-east, where the fort faces onto a narrow neck joining the main mountain massif. These consists of a ditch and an external bank of simple dump construction. There may have been a drystone rampart within the ditch: a mass of tumbled stone sealing a single sherd of Roman pottery was found in the ditch in 1849.

There are two entrances both with prominent 15m deep in-turns. The western entrances opens onto headlong slopes, whilst the eastern opens onto the neck. Here the corresponding openings in the outer ramparts and ditches are offset, creating a zigzag approach.

The interior is uneven. Thirteen circular building platforms have been recorded by CPAT. These would have held great thatched roundhouses. 'Rude paving' recorded within the eastern entrance in 1849 may mark the site of further buildings.
Hillforts such as this are characteristic of later Prehistoric settlement and were often occupied through the Roman period. Moel-y-Gaer is likely to have been an important local centre, possibly the site of great assemblies or festivals.

Sources: Ffoulkes. 1852. Archaeologia Cambrensis New Series I, 174-81.
Davies. 1929. 'Prehistoric & Roman Remains of Denbighshire', 186-9.
Recorded as part of Uplands Initiative Survey. W B Horton, Hayman & Horton, 15/06/2007.
RCAHMW, 16 September 2008.

2. Re-surveyed for the Heather and Hillforts project by Engineering Archaeological Services (EAS) and subjected to geophysical survey. This revealed areas of intense burning close to the main gateway. This area was investigated in an excavation by Prof. Raimund Karl, University of Bangor, in 2009.

T. Driver, RCAHMW, 17th May 2010.

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