Llangoed World War 1 Trenches
From 22nd to 26th September 2014, we dug two small trenches
to investigate First World War practice trenches on Cichle
Farm, Llangoed, Anglesey.
Planning Trench 2
We had previously carried out a geophysical survey of
the field and a clear aerial photograph exists of the trenches
when they were still open in 1945 so we have a fairly good
understanding about their layout but needed to test how
well they survive beneath the ground. One trench targeted
the trenches around the command centre and another looked
at the front-line trench.
The trenches were opened with the skilled mini-digger
driving of Robyn Roberts of Cichle Farm and some heavy
hand digging was carried out by a small team of experienced
volunteers. However the difficulty of the work surprised
us. It was very hard to see the difference between the
backfill of the trenches and the natural boulder clay,
so after the mini-digger had removed some backfill careful
hand-digging was necessary to work out what was going on.
In the front-line trench a soft clay containing limestone
(not naturally present on the farm) caused a lot of confusion.
In the end I decided to take it out by machine and only
then did we prove that it was boulder clay (with pieces
of limeand that we had unwittingly removed one side of
Frontline trench NE facing section
Frontline trench SW facing section
However we had done enough recording to show that the
trench was 0.7m wide at the base (though wider at the top)
and about 1.5m deep. It took quite a lot of hand-digging
to find the base of the command centre trench, which proved
to be a similar width and depth to the front-line trench.
Command Centre Trench
Neither trenches had firing steps, which would have been
expected especially on the front-line trench where a step
would have been needed for soldiers to stand on to see
out of the trench to fire at the enemy. However the command
centre trench had what appeared to be small steps cut in
one side, possibly for access while the trench was being
dug. Both trenches had hints of timber or wattle being
used to revet the sides of the trench but none of this
survived very well.
Nothing was found apart from a few sherds of pottery in
the backfill and small nails from the revetment.
The work showed that the trenches survive well under the
soil but that they are not easy to reveal by excavation
and in the areas inspected revetments and other features
do not survive very well.
It had been hoped to also investigate another group of
practice trenches not far away in Tan y Coed wood, but
the time it took to sort out the excavated trenches meant
that there wasn't enough time left. We will be surveying
these trenches, which have not been backfilled and are
much clearer to see on the surface than the Cichle Farm
trenches, but the survey will have to wait until winter
when all the leaves are off the trees and we can see what
we are doing.
On Thursday evening people were invited to come and have
a look at the excavations and we had 9 visitors, who managed
to find us in this rarely frequented corner of Anglesey.
Thanks very much to Beaver, Jeff, Brian and Sam for all
their help and to Robyn Roberts for allowing us to work
on his land and for the machine driving and other assistance.