HEN GASTELL, BRITON FERRY, WEST GLAMORGAN (SS 7315 9403) Documentary sources primarily the now lost Register of Neath Abbey suggest that a castle, referred to as Hen Gastell, was built by Morgan ap Caradog ab lestyn on a steep hill in Cadoxton-juxta-Neath, close to the Briton Ferry crossing of the Nedd. Morgan was the Welsh Lord of Afan in the second half of the twelfth century. The probable location of the castle was identified in 1980 by Mr C.J. Spurgeon (RCAHM: Wales), on a small hill of Pennant sandstone, which had traces of a defensive ditch and scarping around its summit, immediately to the west of the ferry crossing. The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust conducted a study of the site as part of an assessment of the archaeological implications of construction of the Baglan to Lonlas section of the M4 motorway. Additional defensive earthworks were noted in the vicinity of those identified by Mr Spurgeon, as well as others to the north of a quarry which has removed most of the central portion of the hill. Since the construction of the new road would destroy the hill's summit and the defences which enclose it, the Trust undertook the clearance of vegetation, surveying and trial excavation of the site. On the basis of the results of this work, full excavation of the site commenced in early August 1991, funded by the Welsh Office Highways Directorate on the advice ofCadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. The summit of the hill was defended on its southern and western sides by a rock-cut ditch with a bank along its outer rim. The northern and eastern sides of the summit have been removed by recent quarrying. The summit, which measures some 21 m north-south by 28 m east-west, appears to have been deliberately levelled. This area contains evidence of postholes, flagged surfaces, and stone filled features which are under excavation at the time of writing. Initial analysis of the finds shows a range of pottery of twelfth-century date. There has also been a range of finds of early medieval date. Pottery sherds have been identified as 'D' and 'E' ware and fragments of glass indicate the presence of decorated vessels including conical beakers. Glass and amber beads have also been found, along with whetstones, a 'motif-stone', and a Fowler Class G penannular brooch. Taken together, these indicate use of the site in the early post-Roman period. At the time of writing no firm date can be assigned to the construction of the defences, but the possibility of the re-use of a pre-Roman site cannot be discounted. Trial excavations are also being undertaken on the banks and other surface features along the western foot of the hill and on an adjacent knoll. The features found to the north of the quarry are also being investigated. This work is being
This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.
The National Library of Wales has created and published this digital version of the journal under a licence granted by the publisher. The material it contains may be used for all purposes while respecting the moral rights of the creators.