A few weeks back, I got to revisit the Chirk Castle excavations – a series of community digs organised as a collaboration between the National Trust and Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and involving local people and archaeology students. Here I include few quick observations to congratulate these organisations, their staff and volunteers, for a second season of archaeological investigations. Regarding the results: it remains for the excavators themselves to report on their discoveries in due course.

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The broad, shallow but still massive scale of Offa’s Dyke as it runs through Chirk Castle estate north of the castle

First, the work continued and extended the investigations of Offa’s Dyke in Chirk Estate are revealing important results. This is a supposedly completely destroyed section of Dyke and the survival of striking traces of the monument here do more than simply confirm its former presence, but cast doubt on many other determinations regarding its surviving in other locations where it is sometimes regarded as completely destroyed. To their and our amazement, the results seem to be suggesting a vast ditch to the Dyke at this location, up to 3m deep, as reported on last year here. In addition, it seems a significant sliver of the base of Offa’s Dyke also has survived intact, if spread out and denuded through multiple stages.

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UoC students busy investigating the bank and ditch of Offa’s Dyke, and a feature underlying it. The line of the bank of Offa’s Dyke can be seen as an earthwork behind them heading SSW across the park

Second, I was pleased to see a large contingent of the volunteers were final-year University of Chester students, all of whom had participated in The Public Archaeology of Frontiers and Borderlands conference.

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Four UoC students busy at work on the CPAT/NT dig

Third, it was great to see the other digs run by CPAT with local volunteers: two trenches by the castle that seem to have uncovered an historic ha-ha.

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The wall of the ha-ha is clearly visible in CPAT excavations north of the castle.

There was yet another dig: this one investigating outbuildings of the castle in the woods on its south side.

 

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