Turning Back Time at Dinas Dinlle
New animation tells the climate story of this Gwynedd coastal village from the Ice Age to the Second World War
We’re excited to launch the CHERISH project’s animation on the changing landscape of Dinas Dinlle!
Over the last 6 years, archaeologists and geographers have been investigating Dinas Dinlle coastal fort and the Morfa Dinlle landscape to help reveal their hidden secrets.. CHERISH work started in 2017 at Dinas Dinlle coastal fort, an eroding late prehistoric settlement. Here archaeological work included new aerial and drone surveys, topographic and geophysical surveys to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information about the scheduled monument.
This work led to community excavations, undertaken on behalf of CHERISH, the National Trust and Cadw by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust with the aid of an army of volunteers. Two trenches explored the hillfort interior close to the eroding cliff-face and revealed prehistoric and Roman roundhouses buried deep beneath the sand. The star reveal was a large and impressive roundhouse, which was fully excavated and consolidated so that visitors can see visit this impressive structure today.
During excavation it was found that the archaeology within the hillfort was buried under meters of sand, which allowed us to apply a special technique (Optical Stimulated Luminescence) to help us date when the sand blew in. Dates show that sand was an ever-present challenge to the occupants of the hillfort; evidence from the hillfort’s inner ditch shows that sand started collecting here from the Middle Iron Age onwards (around 250 BC). In the interior, sand accumulation over the large roundhouse suggests that by the start of the Medieval period around AD 1100 sand was left to accumulate over the site.
Around the hillfort, the CHERISH team extracted cores from the wetlands and dated peat exposed at low tides on the foreshore to provide evidence for the evolution of the landscape and the vegetation history. This showed that around 7500 years ago, in the Mesolithic period, woodland stood where the beach is today; sea-levels were around 5 metres lower than they are now. The work also showed that there was once a tidal inlet behind the fort where the village and fields are today – a perfect location for a harbour for Iron Age and Roman boats!
Further afield the team explored and dated the development of Morfa Dinlle around modern-day Caernarfon Airport. Evidence suggests that Morfa Dinlle may have developed first as an island around 2000 years ago, during the time Dinas Dinlle hillfort was occupied. Later it was either cut off due to the tide or isolated permanently.