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Hillforts of Northern Wales

  • £5.95
  • £0.00
  • Author: Michael Senior
  • Publication February 2005
  • Format: Paperback, 182x124 mm, 112 pages

A highly informative introduction to the hillforts of north Wales, comprising a study based on archaeological research giving an insight into the people who built them, their general and individual characteristics and their use. 31 colour and 1 black-and-white illustration and 2 maps.

Gwales Review

For anyone interested in the range of Iron Age hillforts in North Wales, this book that will satisfy their need for detailed information and historical fact. It is a compact book packed with detail of 40 hillforts, both medium and large, and how each refers to the other historically and geographically within their fantastic landscapes, from Dinas Gynfor and Bwrdd Arthur in North and East Anglesey to the inland zone containing Pen y Gaer and Dinas Brân above Llangollen.

The many interesting facts contained include the specific methods used in walls and banks for defence and warfare. The author informs us of even the ammunition used at the time, and the length of time that a hillfort may have been in use: ‘Tre’r Ceiri, for instance, has the remains of a hundred and fifty huts, and finds have indicated that its use went on until the end of the 4th Century AD. That is, well into the period of the Roman occupation and so throughout it.’ We are led into descriptions of the domestic lifestyle of the time – Castell Odo being later used as an enclosure for to ‘keep domestic animals in and wild animals out’.

The methods of building are explored through the archaeological study of remnants found, for example, of wooden posts and evidence of the types of stone available, also, accounting for fires which repeatedly destroyed the basic frameworks which were originally in place. Many of the forts had more than one long term period of use and the author guides us through those in a clear and concise way so that we build up an overview of the history. Artefacts and pottery of the time are described as examples of the domestic lifestyle –‘large coarse jars’ which ‘may have principally been used for storing grain’ – and we are told that cooking remnants are found in fires and cattle teeth.

The fluidity of the writing style enables the reader to absorb the contents of this book in a short reading to get an overview of the hillforts of the area. There is the additional appeal of using the book as a detailed reference while exploring the forts themselves. The archaeological facts and questions are presented in clear prose – the discovery of the more rare Celtic artefacts are explored, such as the cast bronze ox-head ornaments from Dinorben.

The interiors of the dwelling places of the time are explained in a methodical and imaginative way so that it is possible to visualise how life may have been:‘the smoke from the hearth is simply allowed to dissipate naturally through the thatch, so that, for instance, in the villages of the hill tribes of Thailand, the whole village appears to be on fire’. These attractive descriptions forge a liveliness throughout the book that makes for a very interesting and informative book all round.

Clare Maynard