Grassholm Island, Skomer Island and the Marloes Peninsula form an important part of the unique prehistoric and historic coastal landscape of south Pembrokeshire. The coastline of the Marloes Peninsula is also renowned for shipwrecks of vessels travelling between Ireland, south Wales and the south of England.
Grassholm Island and Skomer Island
Grassholm and Skomer Island are two archaeologically rich islands situated off the west coast of the Marloes peninsula in south Pembrokeshire. Amongst the thousands of gannet nests and puffin burrows that cover the islands are the remains of countless mysterious stone structures, inter-linking stone field boundaries, ploughed lynchets and other archaeological features. The visible remains represent human occupation and farming on the islands that span both the prehistoric and medieval periods. Recent research by CHERISH has illuminated some of the islands’ mystery through exploring and recording its eroding archaeology.
Archaeological research has been ongoing on Skomer since 2011 and has been undertaken by archaeologists from the Royal Commission, The University of Sheffield and Cardiff University as part of the Skomer Project. A major product of the project was the collection of 0.50cm LiDAR data for the entire island from which archaeological mapping was carried out. This work resulted in the mapping of countless Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval field systems, many of which were previously not known about. This work essentially laid down the building blocks for the CHERISH LiDAR data collection of a further six islands (including Grassholm) in 2017.
The LiDAR survey of Grassholm allowed for the precise identification and mapping of all surviving prehistoric structures and field boundaries spread across the island. Based on this work several areas of interest were identified which were investigated during a 2019 visit by CHERISH. The main priority for the team was to undertake a rapid two-day evaluation excavation of a single stone-built structure towards the centre of the island that had become exposed due to the erosion of the previously overlying vegetation. A small segment of one of the structure’s walls was excavated to characterise the way in which it was constructed and to recover any possible artefactual evidence. The small part of the structure that was uncovered was very well-built, however, a lack of dating evidence made dating the structure extremely difficult.