CBHC / RCAHMW > News > Pendinas Hillfort Transformed After Gorse Clearance!
Drone photograph of Pendinas South Fort from the north-east showing the areas cleared of bracken and gorse in March 2024. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW

Pendinas Hillfort Transformed After Gorse Clearance!

Ancient hillfort emerges again for the public to enjoy.

Since its launch twelve months ago in March 2023, the Pendinas Community Archaeology Project (led by the Royal Commission and Dyfed Archaeological Trust and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with Cadw) has done much to deliver what was requested by the local community: to know more about their hillfort and to see it better maintained!  There have been two excavations assisted by volunteers, numerous guided walks, mapping and craft workshops, a programme of talks, and a very successful archaeology festival last September. The latest initiative has seen the amazing transformation of this historic hillfort.

Until a few weeks ago much of this magnificent site, which is also a celebrated Local Nature Reserve, was hidden by an impenetrable and damaging blanket of bracken and gorse which threatened the precious archaeology and ecology of the site.

Drawing on the help of Aberystwyth University’s ACV (Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers) student volunteer group, working with local contractors and Ceredigion County Council with the advice of local conservation expert, Chloe Griffiths, the encroaching gorse has been successfully cleared. This has not only revealed the ditches and banks of the hillfort in all their glory but also improves the condition of the rare coastal acid grassland habitat on the hill summit.

Before and after photos show the scale of the transformation. The profile of the hillfort would now be recognisable to its Iron Age builders. Beca Davies, the Project’s community outreach officer said:

‘You can really see how extraordinary this hillfort is with its fantastic tiers of defences at the heart of the Pen Dinas and Tanybwlch Local Nature Reserve. Now that the site has been cleared the Commission has started a new archaeological survey of the hillfort which will map all the earthworks on the hillfort to produce a new plan that will help increase our understanding of the monument!’

Conservation expert, Chloe Griffiths, said:

“Thanks to the work of the project, in collaboration with Ceredigion County Council , Pendinas is now better managed for wildlife than it has been in many years.  Bluebells are emerging already, and Pendinas is now a much better place for our native plants and wildlife.”

The vegetation clearance is the result of a huge cooperative effort between the project partners and the Fire Service, the County Council, Cadw, the local landowner and many others.

Councillor Keith Henson, Ceredigion County Council’s Biodiversity Champion, said:

‘Great to see Funding from Local Places for Nature being used in such a positive way for the Pendinas vegetation clearance. The clearing has been done in a managed and efficient way using the robotic mower which has been funded through the Local Places for Nature project through Welsh Government. Thank you Ceredigion Council staff for arranging and ensuring the clearance was done in such a safe way.’

Pendinas is the largest hillfort along the Cardigan Bay coast, more complex than any other coastal hillfort from north Pembrokeshire to the Llŷn Peninsula. Though there was some excavation by Aberystwyth Professor Daryll Forde, in the 1930s, this magnificent hillfort, like so many of the others that crown the hills of Wales, remains something of an enigma. Was it built for show, to demonstrate the power of the local Iron Age community, or did it serve a practical purpose as a place where cattle and grain could be safely stored? What activities did those who lived here undertake on this hilltop site? The  last two seasons of archaeological investigation and the project’s community engagement will certainly help answer some of these questions.

The project is due to finish in August 2024 but before then much more is planned, including a free bilingual booklet on the hillfort for local schools  and the community, workshops and guided walks, and another festival is planned for the 2024 Festival of Archaeology in July.

For further details, please contact Beca Davies beca.davies@rcahmw.gov.uk.

Drone photograph of Pendinas South Fort from the north-east showing the areas cleared of bracken and gorse in March 2024. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW
1. Drone photograph of Pendinas South Fort from the north-east showing the areas cleared of bracken and gorse in March 2024. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW
2. A similar view taken in winter 2017 showing the extensive cover of gorse and bracken threatening the ecology and archaeology of the hillfort, the centre of the Pen Dinas and Tanybwlch Local Nature Reserve. Crown Copyright: CHERISH PROJECT 2017. Produced with EU funds through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme 2014-2020. 
2. A similar view taken in winter 2017 showing the extensive cover of gorse and bracken threatening the ecology and archaeology of the hillfort, the centre of the Pen Dinas and Tanybwlch Local Nature Reserve. Crown Copyright: CHERISH PROJECT 2017. Produced with EU funds through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme 2014-2020. 
3.	The ACV student volunteer group with Beca Davies (front left) near the Wellington Monument on a damp Sunday last month. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW
3. The ACV student volunteer group with Beca Davies (front left) near the Wellington Monument on a damp Sunday last month. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW
4.	Contractors chipping and mulching cleared vegetation at Pendinas in early March.
4. Contractors chipping and mulching cleared vegetation at Pendinas in early March.
5.	The new robotic mower hard at work on Pendinas! This was funded through the Local Places for Nature project through Welsh Government.
5. The new robotic mower hard at work on Pendinas! This was funded through the Local Places for Nature project through Welsh Government.

21/03/2024

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Leighton George Radford
Leighton George Radford
21 days ago

Excellent work. An amazing site.

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