Archaeology

Llangefni Link Road Sections 1 & 2 – Archaeological Open Day

Following the exciting archaeological discoveries during the construction of Sections 1 and 2 of the new Llangefni Link Road, members of the public were invited to an Open Day on Saturday 28th May where they were given the opportunity to see some of the archaeological work in progress and view some of the artefacts that have been unearthed.

Over 300 members of the public visited the site, including local Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorweth who tweeted his amazement at the findings following his visit:

Whilst the majority of the visitors to site were local to Llangefni, two visitors had travelled from Birmingham specifically to find out more about the discoveries.

archaeology dig area

A specially prepared viewing area adjacent to the archaeological excavation ensured that visitors were able to view the cemetery at close hand without disturbing the meticulous work taking place.

At least 48 graves have now been discovered, some containing the remains of more than one person and it is thought that these date back to early medieval times, 1,500 years ago. Brython Archaeology, working on behalf of Griffiths, hope that DNA techniques will be used to discover whether those buried are related to current Llangefni residents.

archaeology grave

Visitors to the Open Day were also given the opportunity to see a small bronze brooch discovered in one of the graves, which is thought to date from the end of the Roman period, together with a brooch clasp and fragments of roofing tile which suggests that there may be the remains of buildings nearby.

 

Archaeologists digging on the site of an ancient cemetery say they have unearthed a 1,500-year-old “time capsule” of national importance.

During planned archaeological mitigation for the construction of the Llangefni Link Road a number of early Christian burials have been identified and at least 48 graves have now been discovered on the site after experts extended their excavation works across a wider area.

Some of the cist graves, which date back to early medieval times, hold the remains of more than one person and a number of interesting artefacts have also been found.

They include a small bronze brooch from one of the graves, dating from the end of the Roman period; fragments of Samian pottery which would have been imported from Gaul (in modern day France), a brooch clasp and a fragment of roofing tile which suggests that there were buildings nearby.

brooch artefact

Section 1 and 2 of the Link Road is being built on behalf of the Isle of Anglesey County Council by Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd with Archaeoleg Brython Archaeology and Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service (GAPS) overseeing the newly discovered cemetery.

Iwan Parry, of Archaeoleg Brython Archaeology, explained,

“This is a fantastic find of national importance. A cemetery like this where there is such good preservation is like finding a time capsule left by a community almost 1,500 years ago.
“The manner of how the remains have been preserved is amazing. The soil in north-west Wales is generally very acidic, which means that bones rarely survive, and in a similar cemetery nearby, found during the installation of a water main in 2010, no bones were recorded. Here, however, even the delicate bones of the hands and feet are still there on some of the skeletons. We believe this may be due to the limestone bedrock, into which some of the graves have been dug.”

He added,

“Through various scientific techniques we’ll gain a better understanding about these people; their health, where they grew up, what they ate and how and when they died. Through DNA work, it may also be possible to find out whether they were a family group and whether those buried together were related, it may even be possible to find out whether they are the distant relatives of people still living in Llangefni today.”

As the work continues, it’s hoped that other exciting discoveries will be made and that the analysis of on-site work will also provide a great amount of new historical information.

Anglesey Council’s Chief Engineer, Huw Percy, added,

“We’re working very closely with our contractors, Alun Griffiths, and archaeological experts to ensure that the site continues to be protected and managed sensitively, so that this important find can be investigated and recorded.”
“It’s also important to emphasise that the Llangefni Link Road site is a construction site and that access to the public is strictly prohibited. However, an open morning is being held Saturday 28thMay, so that local residents and other interested parties can see the cemetery for themselves.”

The Welsh Government funded link road project aims to bring significant economic benefits to Llangefni and Anglesey through the construction of a new road from the Grŵp Llandrillo Menai Pencraig campus to the B5420 Lôn Penmynydd, and then linking through to the existing Bryn Cefni Business Park road.

graves being uncovered

Most notably, it will enable the growth and expansion of the college campus and provide improved access to the Enterprise Zone sites. Additionally, the scheme will improve linkages with the A55 and help overcome traffic constraints in Llangefni.

As part of the scheme’s design process, a desktop survey and field investigation were carried out to investigate potential archaeological discoveries during construction. This led to conditions in the contract and on the planning consent which included construction methodology and for the main Contractor Griffiths to appoint an archaeological contractor to carry out archaeological mitigation on site.