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The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust News - old stories

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.

Hay on Wye

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.

medieval corn drying kiln

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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