Karina Shaw and Dr Alan Chamberlain from Penparcau History and Heritage Group, Penparcau Community Forum
Karina Shaw and Dr Alan Chamberlain from Penparcau History and Heritage Group, Penparcau Community Forum

An event was held on Saturday 29 April 2017 in Penparcau to celebrate new and exciting findings about Pen Dinas Hill Fort.

The two-day ‘never been done before’ geophysical survey took place on 5 and 6 April this year, by a team of archaeologists from Archaeology Wales, Trysor and a number of local people from the Penparcau Community Forum.

The survey shows that much more archaeology survives within the hillfort than can be seen on the surface, increasing the archaeological potential of the site.  A number of probable hut circles, the sites of round buildings typical of the Iron Age, have been identified as well as evidence of small ‘quarry scoops’ along the eastern side of the fort.

Undoubtedly the most significant discovery, is the confirmation that a low mound on the hilltop is a Bronze Age round barrow. This is a grave site, where the cremated remains of an important figure would have been buried over 3500 years ago.

“This is the first Bronze Age monument to be recorded in Penparcau and Aberystwyth,” explains Dr Alan Chamberlain who is a local resident and trustee of the Penparcau Community Forum. “Its discovery changes the way we look at Pen Dinas and its hinterland. Its presence means that the hill must have been a place of special importance long before the hillfort was constructed.”

He adds: “The Bronze Age inhabitants of the district would have been a sophisticated and well-organised community, farming the land around the hill.  Speculation surrounds the location of their settlements, but they must have looked up at Pen Dinas with a similar sense of wonder as modern people would.”

“To them it was a place to bury someone of importance, perhaps a sacred landscape, from where an ancestor could watch over them.  We can only wonder if the Iron Age inhabitants of the hillfort were aware of this ancient grave when they built their fortified settlement.”

“These findings are re-writing history for Penparcau, Aberystwyth and Wales.  It’s really exciting and nationally significant! It’s especially important, because the local community has made this happen – how amazing to think that Penparcau has its own ‘Time Team.”

John Davies, Chair of the Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group (LAG), which is administered by Ceredigion County Council said: “The project aims to continue the good work already completed by all those involved, and add value to local identity by using digital technologies. We hope this will attract more visitors to the site for tourism and education and enhancing a sense of place.”

The survey is part of an innovative ‘grass roots’ community led bilingual heritage and environment project called ‘Pen Dinas Hill Fort: Exploring the Celtic Coast’, which was developed by Penparcau Community Forum History and Heritage Group.

The project received LEADER support through the Cynnal y Cardi Local Action Group (LAG), and funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. The project is also supported by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW).

The project is looking for more volunteers from the local area, so if you would like to get involved in this exciting project please contact: contact@Penparcau.cymru

Pen Dinas Hill Fort: Exploring the Celtic Coast: Project background information.