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Pembroke Castle excavation completed

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THE TWO WEEK archaeological excavation of Pembroke Castle has finished, with much information and material gathered to be analysed.

Dyfed Archaeological Trust, funded by the Castle Studies Trust, started the excavation on September 3, the first at the site for over 70 years. The excavations and topographic survey aimed to further advance the understanding of one of Wales’ and the UK’s most iconic castles.

The large outer ward has been an empty space since at least the eighteenth century, yet aerial photographs in 2013 revealed parch marks detailing the outline of a possible late medieval double-winged hall house. This was further confirmed by geophysical surveys carried out by Dyfed Archaeological Trust, funded by the Castle Studies Trust, in 2016. Such buildings are unusual in castles, particularly in the outer ward, generally associated with more lowly structures. This may suggest that the ward had been ‘gentrified’ matching historical accounts which place the birth of Henry Tudor in the outer ward: it may have occurred within this very building. It is thought more likely that he was born in what was a modern residence for the time, than in a guard tower on the castle walls.

Under the guidance of well-known castle expert Neil Ludlow, Dyfed Archaeological Trust excavated two trenches to understand more about the form, date, context and function of the remains. Additionally, they carried out a topographic survey to make a detailed record of the layout of the castle.

Neil Ludlow said prior to the excavation: “The geophysical survey carried out in Pembroke Castle, in 2016, funded by the Castle Studies Trust, showed a large, winged building that resembles, in plan, a late-medieval manor house. This is an unusual find within a castle, and has additional significance at Pembroke as the possible birthplace of King Henry VII.

“But this is still guesswork, as nothing else about the building is known. All we really know is that it was excavated in the 1930s without records. Thanks to the support of the Castle Studies Trust, some of these questions will be answered as well as learning more about later medieval high status living.”

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied since at least the Roman period. Norman lords founded the first traditional castle there in the 11th century. Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle on January 28 1457. On August 22 1485, Henry seized the English crown, defeating King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, in the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. He was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle, and was crowned Henry VII, first monarch of the House of Tudor.

On the first day of the excavation, a possible wall was quickly made visible in trench one, and trench two revealed a former path surface through the castle grounds and the suggestion of an outer wall. Bone, pottery, brick and tile were found, most from the early 20th century but with some late medieval and post medieval material as well.

The second day saw a second wall revealed close to the east, yet the walls appeared too close together to be associated with the walls seen on the parch marks. Large areas of mortared stone patches were revealed to the west, suggesting walls, and the outer wall of the building in trench two started to become exposed as well. A large amount of oyster shell was collected from the site as well as more pottery and bone.

On the third day, the full width of the wall in trench two was made visible at its western end, at roughly one metre wide, suggesting a substantial structure. In trench one the two walls located close together were thought to represent the cess pit.

The fourth day brought wind and rain, but did not deter progress, with more backfill being removed from both trenches to reveal the surviving walls of the structure. Day five saw good progress, removing almost all of the remaining backfill from trench one to reveal a rubble collapse layer – pre-dating the 1930s excavations. The large mass of masonry is thought to be a possible curving stair, whilst the top of the large wall in trench two was fully exposed.

The sixth day saw further poor weather, and so the focus was on washing and sorting the cleaned finds for bagging up. By the afternoon the weather improved somewhat and the team were able to start the removal of layers of building collapse within the trenches.

Members of the Castle Studies Trust who are funding the investigation visited the site on day seven to check on progress. Work continued in trench one revealing an area of potential bedrock within the possible small room at its eastern end. Collapse material has been removed from trench two to reveal a spread of mortar and slate, potentially a collapsed roof within the structure.
The eighth day saw a sample excavation of the small room in trench one completed, exposing more of a large outcrop of limestone bedrock in its base. Cadw gave permission to slightly extend the trenches and this was started in the afternoon.

The ninth day saw trench two extended to expose the return of the large wall in the northwestern corner of the building, which again appears to be a substantial wall, suggesting a tall building. The extension in trench one was also continued, but no continuation of any walls were seen, although a deposit of rubbish was revealed containing large quantities of roofing slate, oyster shell, bone and quite a few pieces of glazed tile.

The tenth day saw the return of the wall in the second trench fully exposed, the cobbled surface on the outside of the wall cleaned and a rough stone slab floor adjacent to the steps was exposed. They finished taking the eastern extension of the trench down to the correct level, and commenced excavation of the possible cess pit, which is being sampled for environmental analysis.

Day 11 saw the recording and site survey start, as they finished excavation of a small test pit in trench one, onto a second possible stone slab floor. The east end of the trench was found to contain a mix of material, with pottery dating throughout the medieval and later medieval period, as well as three shards of Roman pottery too.

Day 12 was spent undertaking further recording and drawing in the two trenches as the work drew to a close.

The recording was finished on the thirteenth day, as they started backfilling in the afternoon.

In between the volunteers stopped to watch the 1st Battalion Royal Welsh being given the freedom of Pembroke. The last day saw both trenches were backfilled and re-turfed by the end.

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New Eco Feature For Haverfordwest

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Plans have been submitted for a ‘living green wall’ to be planted in the centre of Haverfordwest in a bid to enhance local biodiversity and wildlife.

The green wall would be situated alongside the river opposite Glan-yr-Afon, the town’s library and cultural centre, and planted with 25 species of native plants including ferns, grasses, flowers and wild herbs including basil, sage and clary.

As well as providing an important habitat for pollinators, the wall would also be an attractive natural feature in its own right, says Sara Morris, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Development Plans and Conservation Manager.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to re-introduce nature in the heart of Haverfordwest,” she said. “As with all planting, it will take some time for the plants to grow and flourish but given time it will look very attractive.”

The maintenance of the wall, which is scheduled for installation towards the end of October, would be carried out by a team of volunteers. New benches made from Welsh slate would also be installed to encourage residents and visitors to enjoy spending time in the area.

The green wall is part of the Cleddau Reaches partnership project which forms one of the priorities in the Haverfordwest Regeneration framework.

The Cleddau Reaches partners are Pembrokeshire County Council, the Bridge Meadow Trust, Haverfordwest Town Council, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Haverfordwest Kayak Club.

Pembrokeshire College and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority have also supported the project.

The aim is to improve and enhance the rights of way network in and around Haverfordwest and in particular, around the Western Cleddau, through several different inter-linked schemes.

Grant funding of approximately £250,000 has been provided by the NRW, Haverfordwest Town Council and the Landfill Disposals Tax Community Scheme.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, says the project’s focus on the river follows recognition that for too long, it has been an under-utilised resource despite being one of the town’s key natural assets.

“The Cleddau Reaches project brings together many ideas which the community has put forward over the last 20 years,” he said.

“As well as boosting biodiversity, the project forms part of the wider package of investments we are bringing forward to support Haverfordwest Town Centre.

“This administration is determined to revive the fortunes of the County Town, transforming Haverfordwest Town Centre from a traditional retail centre that’s being left behind into a vibrant leisure destination where residents and visitors alike want to spend their time.”

Some of the work currently taking place as part of the Cleddau Reaches project includes new riverbank paths near the Bridge Meadow with plans to create a new footbridge connecting to the Old Mill Grounds.

Other plans include creating habitats for sand-martins, otters and lampreys upriver, creating a trail linking up with the Town Council’s Priory Saltings project, and installing five interpretation boards along the route describing the flora, fauna and history of the local area.

The green wall planning application is currently registered with Pembrokeshire County Council for determination.

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Homes in Pembrokeshire can get free boilers and insulation

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PEMBROKESHIRE HERALD is teaming up with Blackburn based company Euro Insulation, who are working on a Pembrokeshire County Council backed energy scheme called the ECO: Help to Heat programme.

The scheme intends to utilise government funding for the reduction of fuel poverty within the county.

The council says that it has worked for many years to improve homes locally, and is keen for as many households to sign up as possible.

The local authority is working with ECO energy installers.

Funding is only available for private owner occupiers and private rented tenants. Qualification of flexible eligibility in Pembrokeshire will be determined by certain criteria.

Grants are available to a range of households including those with someone aged over 60, with a child under 5, and homes with children in primary or secondary school, or with a pregnant mother.

The Pembrokeshire Herald is letting as many homeowners know as possible about the scheme and has a call centre open to take queries on behalf of Euro Insulation who will be doing the work.

The aim is to reduce C02 emissions and make homes more energy efficient in Wales.

They are with the Welsh Assembly Government to show homeowners how they can get a brand-new boiler, internal wall insulation and room-in-roof insulation

The funding is only available until December.

To be considered for a FREE boiler or INSULATION call our call centre on 01437 70 70 70

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Fishguard: Armed police presence at Fishguard port

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ARMED officers from Dyfed-Powys Police were on scene at the port in Fishguard this morning (Sept 18).

Border Force and the RNLI were involved in the operation, which reportedly involved a vessel being escorted into the harbour.

Details of the incident are still unfolding, and the police have been contacted for a statement.

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