Bancbryn Excavation

At the start of Day 3. Heavy overnight rain had flooded the excavation trenches.

The Bancbryn excavation has so far examined three of the stones in the row. A consistent picture is emerging. All three stones sit within the thin peaty soil on the hillside. It is clear that there are no propping stones and sadly no evidence for how they were positioned. This would imply that either the stones were placed directly onto the land surface or perhaps more likely in shallow sockets that did not penetrate the underlying subsoil. The position of the stones within the profile is equally consistent with either a prehistoric or historic date which is clearly not as helpful as had been hoped. A dense root mat makes environmental dating impossible and therefore unless work during the coming week reveals dating evidence, the excavation itself will not provide the much hoped for answer. This is not a surprise as stone row excavations elsewhere have had similar results. The excavation has however found no trace of any associated track surface and therefore the idea that it may have denoted a waymarked route of relatively recent origin can now be reliably refuted. A discovery that may be of significance is that Exmoor is at the limit of visibility along a 50m length of the row and this taken with the very precise views towards Hartland Point, the terminal cairn and stone, rich prehistoric and funerary context together combine to make a prehistoric explanation the most plausible.  Despite a careful search no evidence for ploughing in this area has been detected which could help to explain why such an apparently fragile site has survived so well.  It is very likely that the position of the stones within the profile is the result of frost heave which would have over the centuries raised the stones above their original position. Taken together the evidence so far revealed does strengthen the prehistoric interpretation, but sadly has not yet confirmed it.

The main trench. The stone on the near side edge and the one beside the 250mm vertical ranging rod form part of the stone row. The other stones are bedded into the natural subsoil and would have been deposited during solifluction at the end of the last glaciation. View from north east.

Further Information on the excavation of the row and nearby cairns is available in the Dyfed Archaeological Trust Dig Diary available here.

 

 

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