Caer Lêb, Brynsiencyn, is the final site to describe from my recent day-tour of archaeological sites in North Wales accompanied by Cara and Katy Meyers and I report using information from Frances Lynch’s Gwynedd guidebook.
This is now my second favourite Iron Age site on Anglesey. Top of the charts remains Din Lligwy with its well-preserved stone walls and hut circles. Still, what Caer Lêb offers is superb earthen defences. The fact that it is on Anglesey is interesting for discussions of North Welsh late prehistory and the Roman period. However, in many regards the well-preserved earthworks at Caer Lêb makes it a useful site for discussions of high-status native settlements anywhere in the British Isles in this period.
The site is located in a wetland low-lying location; in heavy rain even today the ditches fill with water, even in summer. Therefore, the defences are not simply a conceit, they would have been a formidable barrier when enhanced by water to prevent raiders and thieves as well as perhaps a striking symbol of status and power of the families or clans inhabiting the site.
There are two banks and ditches, the inner one complete, the other one found on only to the south and west; to the north and east the outer bank has been levelled.
Excavations took place in 1866 on the site, revealing the footings of rectangular buildings against the inner ramparts on the east. In the northern part of the enclosure was a raised platform, possibly for a house. A circular hut was found in the southern half of the enclosure. The fact that pottery was found dating to the 2nd to 4th centuries AD indicated that this site had a persistent use. Still, it remains unclear whether the site began in the Iron Age although this might be suspected based on parallels from elsewhere.
In terms of heritage preservation, the kissing gate has been broken and replaced by a piece of wooden boarding. Still, the signboards are good and the site is straightforward to navigate and well maintained as one would expect from a Cadw site.
This was the one site we visited that did not have a mortuary dimension. Still, it deserves to be here on Archaeodeath if only for the superb earthworks.