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Dig Diary for 2013

The Lordís Garden, Nantclwyd y Dre, Ruthin

Photo CPAT cs03-41-18

Nantclwyd House

The Lordís Garden forms the outer garden of Nantclwyd y Dre, in Ruthin which lies on the west side of Castle Street, 100m north of the entrance to Ruthin Castle and occupies a street-frontage position, with the gardens extending to the rear (SJ 1236158183). The present house, a Grade I Listed Building, has developed over a period of more than 500 years. The earliest surviving structure is part of a 15th-century cruck-framed hall-house which occupied the southern part of the present street-frontage, and was built using timber felled in the winter of 1434-5. The position of the hall-house, as well as the width of the inner garden to the rear, suggests that the present plot was originally divided into two burgage plots when the town was laid out in the 13th century, but these were later combined.

The gardens have been designated Grade II in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens in Clwyd (Cadw/ICOMOS 1995), and occupy two areas to the rear of the house, as well as a small courtyard and is surrounded by high stone walls (Grade II Listed) which probably date from the late 15th century. The inner garden occupies the area to the rear of the house, and is bounded by a substantial masonry wall. The outer garden, formerly known as the Lordís Garden, was purchased in 1691 by Eubule Thelwall, the then owner of Nantclwyd House, although he had previously rented the plot.

Buck print

Extract from the 1742 print of Ruthin Castle by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck.

The layout of the garden is shown on a plan of 1780 (NLW 7322), which depicts the Lordís Garden with a perimeter path and further internal paths creating four roughly equal areas in the northern part of the garden, the central east-west path leading from a gate in the boundary wall. The plan indicates what may be an ornamental feature in the centre where the dividing paths cross. A feature shown in the south-west corner of the garden would appear to be the substantial mound which still survives and is the subject of the present proposals. Limited excavations during the 1980s investigated this feature, concluding that it might at least in part comprise spoil excavated during the construction of a swimming pool in the courtyard area (Probert pers comm.). The present mound extends further to the east than that depicted in 1780, and although 20th-century dumping might account for part of the mound, the western end would seem to be of 18th-century date if not earlier. It has been suggested that the mound might be associated with the Civil War siege, perhaps forming an artillery position, although a garden viewing platform is a more likely interpretation given the commanding view of the Castle and across the outer garden to the gazebo which stands at the north-east corner of the Lordís Garden (Grade II Listed).

CPAT archaeologists Ian Grant and Sophie Watson will be working closely with Wendy Williams of the Lordís Garden Restoration Project and a team of volunteers between 18th and 22nd February on an archaeological evaluation within the Lordís Garden. The evaluation will be conducted on behalf of the Denbighshire Heritage Service as part of the Lordís Garden Ruthin Heritage Lottery grant-funded project which aims to develop and open the garden to the public. In order to achieve this, two features of potential archaeological significance require evaluation, an elongated mound in the south-west corner of the garden and an anomaly detected through geophysical survey (Brooks and Laws, 2007).

During the course of one week, we aim to open up two trenches to take in areas of the above features and we will be reporting back via a daily dig diary which will go live between the 18th and 22nd February.

Follow this link to see the Dig Diary for 2013

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