The heyday of Pen Dinas hillfort, Aberystwyth: Great British Railway Journeys on BBC TWO
This Friday on BBC Two, Michael Portillo and his long-running series on Great British Railway Journeys visits Aberystwyth, guided by his 1930s Bradshaw’s Guide.
The Royal Commission was delighted to work with the production team on the story of the Pen Dinas hillfort excavations of the 1930s, and to provide historic images from the National Monuments Record of Wales archive.
The pioneering 1930s excavations were the brainchild of a young Professor from Aberystwyth University, Daryll Forde. Forde was appointed Gregynog Professor of Geography and Anthropology at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth in 1930, aged only 28. He had already spent two years as a Commonwealth Fellow in Anthropology at Berkeley, California.
Forde commenced excavations to explore the pre-Roman origins of Pen Dinas hillfort in 1933 at the height of the Depression. Among the digging team, the young Professor Forde cut quite a dashing figure in his suit and fedora.
Between the years 1933-37 the summer digs on the top of this coastal hillfort attracted national press attention and crowds of interested visitors, all keen to see workmen unearth buried Iron Age walls and other treasures. At the time this was one of the largest hillfort excavations running in Britain. Local workmen were particularly grateful for the seasonal paid work provided by the excavations.
Dr Toby Driver explained:
‘It was a pleasure filming with Michael Portillo and his team on Pen Dinas hillfort last September, with full Covid protocols in place. We explored the history and significance of the 1930s excavations and also looked at how new technology like drones is helping archaeologists survey the site today.’
‘Lots of new research about Forde’s dig has been done by Trysor Heritage Consultancy working with Penparcau Community Forum, and the Royal Commission is grateful to them both for sharing the results of this new work.’
Professor Sarah Davies, Head of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University added:
‘Daryll Forde’s leadership of excavations at Pen Dinas demonstrated his commitment to developing a deeper understanding of the prehistory of the local area and represents an important legacy from his 15 years at the then University College Wales, Aberystwyth.’
Exciting new excavations
Discover more about the Pendinas Dig Story on Facebook: Penparcau History and Heritage Group.
Great British Railway Journeys
Great British Railway Journeys, Series 12, Episode 15, Aberystwyth to Newtown will be broadcast on BBC TWO, Friday 18:30. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000w24q
.. and afterwards on BBC iPlayer
Read more about Pen Dinas hillfort here: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/92236?term=pen%20dinas%20aberystwyth
Aberystwyth University Department of Geography & Earth Sciences: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/dges/
New excavations planned for 2021: https://www.cambrian-news.co.uk/article.cfm?id=135986