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Saint’s ‘potential contemporaries’ unearthed

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DYFED ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST has revealed that skeletons buried at St Patrick’s Chapel in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park may have belonged to contemporaries of St David. 

The Trust carried out a three-week dig as part of their third and final year of excavation at the chapel in Whitesands Bay in May.

The dig unearthed signs that the medieval religious site was used before it was a chapel, and the remains discovered underneath may date back to a time before written records.

A number of the Christian burials found during the excavation are dated back to the early sixth century AD, a time when the now patron saint of Wales, St David, was a bishop.

Supporting the excavation was the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. Cultural Heritage Manager for the Authority, Phil Bennett, said: “Without doubt some of the people buried in St Patrick’s Chapel would have been contemporaries of St David – they might even have known him.

“They were not necessarily compatriots though. Research by the University of Sheffield on skeletons from similar sites in Pembrokeshire revealed that some of the people buried in them were not local but came from Ireland and continental Europe. Initial results from St Patrick’s Chapel suggest a similar pattern, making Whitesands Bay rather cosmopolitan.”

400 years ago, the chapel was in ruins, and nowadays there is no trace of it on the surface. However, harsh storms have regularly exposed graves containing human bones at the site for a number of decades.

In an attempt to make the erosion cease, over twelve years ago Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority placed boulders against the site. This proved a success until the boulders were washed away by massive storms in January 2014, leaving more burials exposed. An agreement was made that declared an excavation on the area of the site most vulnerable to erosion would be the best course of action; any further attempts to protect the site would simply prove futile.

In the relatively small area that has been excavated, nearly 100 skeletons have been unearthed. Some of these were laid in graves lined and capped with stone slabs, a traditional burial design in Western Britain between the sixth and 11th century AD. Christian tradition dictates that the head of a buried body should point to the west, and indeed the remains were found in this manner, aligned east to west.

The archaeologists made a particularly incredible discovery, as they found a stone cross fixed at the edge of one grave; a discovery that marks the first time in Britain that a stone-lined grave has been found in association with an upright cross.

A rather poignant discovery made by the archaeologists found that the majority of skeletons belonged to children.

Director of the Dyfed Archaeological Trust, Ken Murphy, said: “Many of the graves uncovered were those of children and were touchingly decorated with sea shells and shiny quartz pebbles. Two of the children’s grave stones had crosses scratched onto them. You can picture the tenderness felt by those involved with the burial.”

Acidic soil prevalent in most of Wales results in the quick decay of bone, but St Patrick’s Chapel is situated on top of wind-blown sand which has helped to preserve the bones.

Two skeletons were found buried face down, which raises the question if they were criminals or deviants of some sort. However, regardless of those questions, the remains were buried on sacred ground in a Christian cemetery.

Ken Murphy concluded: “This excavation has given us some really important information about the lives, beliefs and practices of people living in Wales over 1,000 years ago.”

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Meet the Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor

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A NEW Pembrokeshire business is proving to be an inspiration for young people after its recent launch.

The Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor is the brainchild of Ewan Griffiths, who turned his dream into reality thanks to the advice and support of Cam Nesa.

The project aims to reduce the number of young people aged 16-24 who are not in education, training or employment.

Before signing up to Cam Nesa, Ewan was out of work and struggling for direction, and anxiety was preventing him from maximising his potential.

Throughout his journey with Cam Nesa, Ewan worked closely with youth worker Donna Wright to devise a plan that provided support and guidance to improve his confidence and self-esteem, and provide mechanisms for coping with anxiety.

In addition, the project provided Ewan with opportunities to gain qualifications and obtain information that would help him with starting his own business.

Ewan’s message to other young people is simple, “If you find yourself struggling, there is help.”

“Cam Nesa supported me in all aspects of my plan, and working with Donna was fantastic.”

“I would definitely encourage others to reach out for support.”

Donna Wright, who supported Ewan throughout his Cam Nesa journey, said that the launch of his new business is a great source of pride for Cam Nesa and Pembrokeshire Youth Service.

“Ewan has come on leaps and bounds, and it was his engagement and determination that has made his outcome with Cam Nesa so successful and inspiring”, she said.

“Congratulations Ewan on your achievements, and we all wish you good luck with your new business.”

The Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor provides repairs and servicing for mowers, strimmers, hedge cutters, and most agricultural engines, with the mobile service providing collection and returns.

For more information, search ‘Pembrokeshire Mower Doctor’ on Facebook.

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Milford Haven: Mount estate death not being treated as suspicious say police

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POLICE have confirmed that following a welfare visit to a property in Mount Estate, they discovered a male occupant, in his 30’s, in need of medical help.

Despite the best efforts of medical staff he sadly passed away on Sunday.

A spokesperson for the police confirmed to The Pembrokeshire Herald: “Dyfed-Powys Police attended a property at the Mount Estate, Milford Haven on Friday 30th April 2021, following a report of concern for the welfare of the occupier.

“A male was taken to hospital where he died on Sunday 2nd May 2021.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious.”

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Polling station changes in Pembrokeshire

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POLLING STATIONS in Pembrokeshire are open today (May 6) but a small number may have changed from the last time you voted.

In Neyland, the polling station will be at the new Community Hub building on John Street.

St Katherine’s Church Hall will be the new host for the station in Milford Haven, having previously been held at the Murray Suite in the town hall.

A polling station will be placed at the leisure centre in Haverfordwest while one at Trecwn has been moved to the Gate, Scleddau.

Voters in the county will be electing for the Preseli Pembrokeshire and the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituencies.

People will also be able to select five MSs to represent the Mid and West Wales Region.

The candidate with the most votes will win the constituency but the ballot for the region will be decided by a different process.

People will be elected according to their share of the vote, using a mathematical process, and gives parties who may have won fewer or no constituencies a better chance of winning regional ones.

It will also be a big day for 16 and 17 year olds as they will be able to vote in Welsh elections for the first time.

The ballots will be counted on Friday (May 7) with results expected to come in from the afternoon.

Polling stations opened at 7am and will close at 10pm.

All those who vote will be required to stick to Covid-19 safety measures including wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.

Clean pencils will be available but voters can bring their own pen or pencil.

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