Bardsey Island is situated approximately 3km southwest of the tip of the Llyn Peninsula, separated from the mainland by Bardsey Sound. During the Medieval period the island was an important place of pilgrimage with three pilgrimages to Bardsey being viewed as the equivalent as one to Rome. Medieval archaeological and structural remains can be viewed all across the island with the ruined thirteenth century St Mary’s abbey being the most impressive. Visible archaeological remains scattered across the island also indicate human occupation likely extending back earlier than the medieval period. The island has been owned and maintained by the Bardsey Trust since 1979 and is also listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as well as being home to several scheduled ancient monuments and buildings.
Mapping the Island’s Archaeology
Work conducted by CHERISH has built upon the important work conducted by Gwynedd Archaeological Trust in their 2014-15 management plan by using ALS and UAV survey to map all visible archaeological monuments on the island in order to improve and expand upon the existing monument records for the island. Historical aerial photography has also been used to compliment these techniques by providing information on archaeological cropmarks.
The eroding section at Henllwyn has also been hand drawn to accurately record eroding archaeological features. This work is important as previous geophysical surveys show this part of the island to contain a density of buried archaeological remains that could relate to a prehistoric cemetery. Several fragments of animal bone have also been extracted from the section. These have been radiocarbon dated to 778-916 AD, possibly related to early farming on the island.
Why are we working here?
The main objective for the CHERISH Project on Bardsey Island is to enhance existing datasets relating to the island’s archaeology and coastal erosion. Through the use of ALS and UAV survey CHERISH has been able to supplement existing surveys by providing highly accurate and precise positions for the archaeology and eroding coastal edges. 3D data collected for the island (specifically the eroding isthmus) will be used to model the impacts of future coastal erosion of the island and its heritage sites.