Interpreting and visiting the archaeology of Skomer Island
The archaeology of Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, is exceptionally well preserved. Across the island remains of boulder-built boundaries, neat stone walls and the footings of round houses can be seen showing how the island was extensively farmed in Iron Age and Romano-British times between 2,000-2,500 years ago. A prominent standing stone, the Harold Stone, and othermegaliths on the island suggest far earlier occupation dating back to the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age.
Following new archaeological surveys and excavations by the Royal Commission, working with colleagues from Sheffield and Cardiff Universities and Cadw, the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales who manage Skomer are hoping to improve the signage and information for the island’s archaeology during 2016.
In late May, Royal Commission archaeologists Louise Barker and Toby Driver travelled to Skomer to meet the Skomer Visitor Officer, Leighton Newman, and Hannah, a long term volunteer, to talk over the archaeology of the most visible prehistoric monuments. Leighton and Hannah hope to renew parts of the Skomer History Trail, first established following work in the 1980s by Professor John Evans.
One of the most accessible and impressive prehistoric round houses in Pembrokeshire can be found at The Wick, close to one of the main viewing points for Puffins. This prehistoric house also benefits from a new wooden sign. Visitors can walk into the footings of the round house, through its well-defined doorway, and imagine the domestic scene within its walls two millennia ago.
The house may originally have been completed with a wattle and timber wall, and conical roof. Although timber suitable for building was rare on Iron Age Skomer, it is possible that posts, poles and other building materials were brought out to the island by boat. The Royal Commission continues to work with the Wildlife Trust to raise awareness of Skomer’s archaeological treasures. Details of visiting Skomer Island can be found at:http://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skomer/
By Toby Driver, RCAHMW
I did an archaeology placement on Skomer back in the 80s under Prof Evans and located a couple of iron age round houses. John often observed the fact that there was a completely undisturbed, neolithic landscape on Skomer.