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The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust News - old stories

A View from the Breiddin

The Brieddin Hills

An illustrated talk by Bill Britnell was one of a number of talks at an all-day seminar entitled ‘Life and Death in the Iron Age Communities of the Northern Marches’ held on the 25th October at the Marches School and Technology College and organised by the Old Oswestry Landscape and Archaeology Project attended by an audience of 270.

The Breiddin hillfort, one of the largest in the region, occupies the ridge of igneous rock that forms the western side of the distinctive block of hills emerging from the Severn valley south of Oswestry and west of Shrewsbury. Excavations were carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s in advance of quarrying, yet after nearly 40 years the site remains one of the key sites in the Welsh borderland, with a long sequence of activity closely dated by a string of radiocarbon dates.

The hillfort is quite different to Old Oswestry and raises the question of whether all hillforts were necessarily the same thing. The Breiddin hillfort’s defences, though generally smaller than those of Old Oswestry, enclose an area of about 28 hectares at a height of about 300 metres above sea level. Old Oswestry’s massive ramparts enclose an area of under 6 hectares at only half the height above sea level. The form of the defences is also quite different. The western side of the Breiddin is a natural cliff known as Craig Breiddin which is so steep that no defences were needed here. The eastern side is more gently sloping and was defended by two widely-spaced ramparts running for a distance of about 1.3 kilometres along the ridge, giving some indication of the size of the population that must once have lived there.

You can find out more about the work at the Breiddin hillfort by following this link.

Bill Britnell, October 2008

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