On day 1 of the Early Medieval Wales Archaeology Research Group colloquium, we had 3 papers on dykes and a field trip exploring Offa’s Dyke and Aberbechan short dyke, as well as Meifod church. There was then a discussion before dinner regarding the future of the early medieval research framework for Wales. Then a slap-up three-course gorge-fest in Welshpool.

Day 2’s morning saw seven magnificent papers.

  1. Nancy Edwards reported on new excavations and chance discoveries shedding new light on settlement, burials and commemoration from early medieval Anglesey, including a newly discovered inscribed stone;
  2. Alan Lane, Tudur Davies and Andy Seaman presented a rapid tour through four discrete projects investigating dimensions of early medieval south-east Wales, including work on the palynological evidence and field-names for the Vale of Glamorgan and excavations near Caerleon and at Dinas Powys;
  3. Lynne Stumpe presented on her Bangor University Masters thesis exploring the pilgrimage landscape of ‘Cybisland’ on Holy Island, Anglesey;
  4. Rhiannon Comeau reported on a new initiative: the Assembly Sites of Wales Project
  5. Marion Shiner presented on two seasons (2014 and 2015) of excavations at St Patrick’s chapel, Pembrokeshire, revealing a sequence of early medieval burials, cross-inscribed stones and possibly an early medieval predecessor to the later medieval chapel;
  6. Katie Hemer revealed provisional elements of the osteological analysis of the human remains, including the Strontium and Oxygen, Carbon and Nitrogen stable isotope analyses;
  7. Peter Reavill gave us rich insights into the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s contribution to our understanding of the Marches.

These 7, together with the 3 papers on day one, gave a rich snapshot of current research on Wales and the Marches in the Early Middle Ages. EMWARG continues to be a coherent and viable venue to both communicate and debate research from many perspectives and thanks to Nancy Edwards and Marion Shiner for another successful conference.

Sadly I could not stay around for the second field visit on Sunday afternoon, which explored New Pieces – an early medieval settlement near Welshpool.