Historic Landscape Characterisation

Trawsfynydd - Area 4 Crawcwellt (PRN 18270)

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, 100017916, 2005

Historic background

The upland basin of which this area forms a large part, was originally an extensive peat bog, Gors Goch, before the construction of the present reservoir in 1906. This basin may once have contained a natural lake which could be expected to have been well visited and a focus of activity in the early prehistoric period as a resource-rich area for a hunter-gatherer economy (see above). Other upland basins elsewhere in north-east and south Wales have produced evidence of activity during the mesolithic period and it may well be that at Trawsfynydd there is archaeological evidence hidden by blanket peat or now submerged beneath the reservoir. There is some evidence of activity in the basin during the second millennium BC in the form of several mounds of burnt stone around Crawcwellt and Bronaber. The area was certainly settled towards the end of the first millennium BC and there are a number of scattered settlements of small round houses linked to irregular curvilinear fields or enclosures on Crawcwellt, partly buried by blanket peat, as well as in Cwm Moch and Cwm Prysor. Excavation of one of the settlements on Crawcwellt has shown that it was occupied between about 300 BC and 50 AD and its main economy was not agricultural but based on exploitation and smelting of local bog iron ore (Crew 1998). The same may have been true of other settlements nearby and all would have declined as iron became available more cheaply from other sources after the Roman invasion. Estimates from the quantity of slag suggest that the settlement would have produced about half a ton of refined iron during its lifetime (ibid ). The 1840 tithe map shows this entire area as being unenclosed and labels it Crawcwellt Common.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Prehistoric settlement (some buried), bog

The area today is a large area of upland bog which bears few no outward signs of past human activity, although at least two extensive prehistoric settlements (comprising scattered hut circle settlement surrounded by a series of ‘wandering walls’ and enclosures) in the northern and southern parts of the area, and recent excavations by P Crew, have demonstrated that the area was heavily exploited in the prehistoric period, and has considerable potential for further buried remains. There are, in addition, the remains of a few hafotai and sheepfolds in the lower part of the area.




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