Medieval Hay on Wye Revealed in Excavations
Excavations which started in October 2004 on land to the north of Heol
Y Dwr are revealing exciting new evidence for the early settlement layout
in Hay which dates to the 12th and 13th centuries AD.
The Development Control section of the Trust monitors all forms of development which may have an impact
upon archaeology and advises the local planning authorities and developers on the best methods for preserving archaeology
that may be threatened by new construction. At Heol Y Dwr, land within the old medieval town walls was
proposed for residential development by Persimmon Homes and early consultation
with the Trust via the Brecon Beacons National Park authority indicated that the
development area would have a huge archaeological potential.
Trial trenches across the proposed development area indicated that a rich variety of
features were present including rubbish pits, low stone walls, boundary
and drainage ditches and numerous medieval pottery fragments spanning the 12th
through to 18th centuries. The layout and nature of the construction proposed
meant that much of this crucial evidence for the early foundation and expansion
of the medieval town would be lost and accordingly it was recommended by the
Trust that the area should be completely excavated as a condition of planning consent.
Persimmon Homes are funding the excavation which is being carried out by the Leominster
based contractors Border Archaeology and work is likely to progress throughout the
winter months. Although the excavations are at an early stage surpisingly
complete structures of medieval date have already come to light including
two kilns, one of which is shown in the photo below. The kilns were probably used for drying
corn and other grain products and date to the 13th or 14th centuries AD.
The 13th century town wall, thought to have been largely dismantled or rebuilt in the
late post-medieval period, has been found to survive up to one metre in height and over a metre in width
at the rear of the building site. The listed wall was previously hidden by
dense undergrowth and the opportunity is being taken to fully record the wall structure
for the first time. This information will be used to aid future interpretation and
management of this impressive survival of the towns medieval defensive circuit.
As the excavation progresses further news items will be posted in the newsletter
so do check back for future updates.
Mark Walters, November 2004
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