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Summary of Results of 2005 Season


Introduction

At Trellech, excavation has so far revealed the outline of a large mediaeval stone building with additional buildings attached north and south and with a courtyard to the rear. The main building extends upwards of 225 square metres with the additional buildings adding another 105 square metres, each, and a courtyard that may extend over at least a couple of hundred metres.

Main Building

The main building is aligned onto the main Catbrook road as are all the buildings so far discovered. The main front wall lies a few metres back from the present road but has extensions added that run right up to it. The building appears to be of mediaeval construction with walls that are nearly one metre thick. The date of construction and then use is suggested by building techniques used to make the walls, relationships between walls and floors, (some floors have been dated) and that mediaeval finds makeup approximately two thirds of the finds. At the front of this building there are two large entranceways seemingly running into the same room that are positioned directly in front of main gate of the field. These entrances are both fully intact with a threshold stone across one and a large flagstone across the other. Here evidence for the mediaeval date of the building can be seen where the entrances are partially covered by a slag surface, an old road surface, which was then subsequently repaired using solely mediaeval roof tiles. The fact that this repair is using pottery from only the mediaeval period and that they are large freshly broken pieces suggests that they have not travelled far in terms of time or space. Thus if this slag surface is mediaeval the building that it abuts up against and partially covers must also be. This evidence for it being mediaeval would tally with other evidence previously mentioned found around the site.

Summary

However what is clear from both finds and structures that both the main mediaeval building and extension were both of significant status. That the main building was built first with the extension added later, but in the post-mediaeval period the main building may well have gone out of use before the later extension succumbed in the mid 1600’s. Evidence of large amounts of charcoal from the destruction layer in the extension suggests it was destroyed by fire.

Additional Buildings

To the north, excavation has begun to reveal further buildings attached to the main building. These buildings seem to be older with solely mediaeval pottery, except for some very modern finds, being found. The building construction is also different with two or just a single stone spanning the walls that are a metre across unlike the mass wall construction seen in the rest of the site. Each stone is also at least half a metre deep. The full extent of the buildings are not yet clear but trial trenching and probing suggests they may extend upwards of 105 square metres, with the front wall running right up to the northern boundary of the field.

Courtyard

In addition to the buildings a courtyard of solid slag and/or stone with a drainage channel has been partly uncovered. This courtyard lies behind the buildings mentioned in the last paragraph and to the north of the main building. Probing suggests that it maybe quite extensive extending over at least a couple of hundred square metres. The date of its construction is not yet clear but it is located within what seems to be the earliest part of the site and mediaeval pottery found between the stone would suggest this as the likely date.

Overview

Overall the buildings seem to be of significant status. The finds in terms of quantity and quality, the solid stone walls and floors and the planning of the spatial environment all lean towards the possibility that this is an important building with ancillary structures and later improvements. Although whether the site begun this way or was formed out of a series of small terraced burgages is not yet clear. The good variety of finds, further suggests the site had many different purposes and thus was not a simple farm. Additional evidence that it was not a farm but part of the mediaeval town of Trellech comes from previous archaeological work carried out in adjacent fields. Work done by Thames Valley Archaeology in 1998 (AW38) found three mediaeval burgages to the north of the site. Landscape archaeology carried out by Julia Wilson in 1998 (AW38) also suggested evidence for numerous buildings in adjacent fields. Also excavation by Monmouth Archaeology in 1999 (AW39) and by Monmouth Archaeological Society 2002 – 2004 (AW42&44) have found mediaeval burgages on the opposite side of the road. This combined evidence shows a concentrated linear settlement along the Catbrook road and not a dispersed settlement as is normally settlement pattern for farms in this area.

Conclusion

Overall it is clear that this part of Trellech began around 1250 and became an important building complex that lasted at least in part until the mid 1600’s. This is further strong evidence for the town of Trellech, once the largest in Wales, to be principally situated along the Catbrook road to the south of the present villa