The Early Medieval Monastic Cemetery at Llandough, Glamorgan

Cotswold Archaeology, 2005

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Introduction

Context

Excavations at Llandough

In 1994 Cotswold Archaeology undertook an archaeological excavation adjacent to the church of St. Dochdwy at Llandough near Cardiff (NGR: ST 1681 7331). It was quickly realised that a major cemetery had been found, and excavation over an area of 0.22 ha revealed 1026 burials. The present church of St Dochdwy largely dates to the mid 19th century, but has long been considered to overlie the site of one of the major early-medieval monasteries of Glamorgan. Excavations to the south of the church in 1979 had found a Roman villa which was occupied until the early 4th century AD.

The earliest radiocarbon date from the human remains shows that burial had commenced by the period 370-640 cal A.D. The presence of sherds of imported Bii amphorae from 5 graves provides archaeological evidence of late 5th or 6th-century activity of some nature at Llandough. The latest radiocarbon dates are 885-1035, 779-1024, and 782-1024 cal A.D. They suggest that burial continued at Llandough until the demise of the monastery in the late 10th or early 11th century.

Following completion of the fieldwork, post-excavation analysis was generously funded by Cadw, whilst the human bones were analysed by Dr Louise Loe as part of a PhD scholarship from the University of Bristol.

Skeletons excavated at Llandough

Publications

There will be three linked publications of the data from Llandough.

The principal account of the cemetery will be published in Medieval Archaeology XLIX (2005) as N. Holbrook and A. Thomas, An Early Medieval Monastic Cemetery at Llandough, Glamorgan. Excavations in 1994. That report is designed to be read as a free standing account of the excavations, and contains full finds reports. A wide-ranging discussion of the cemetery and its context is contained in a separate paper by Jeremy Knight which appears in the same edition of the journal.

It is considered important, however, that a detailed catalogue of all burials should be made widely available to facilitate future analysis and review of the conclusions presented in the Medieval Archaeology article. The digital archive hosted on this site has therefore been created. The archive comprises a full listing of each grave, including stratigraphic relationships, age and sex of the skeleton, data on body posture and arm positions, and full listings of any artefacts contained within the grave fill. The database is linked to a digital site plan which allows details of a particular grave, and its location within the cemetery, to be quickly found. The archive also possesses a search facility which allows users to generate their own distribution plots of specific attributes, either singly or in combination.

The third publication will be a full report on the palaeopathology of the Llandough cemetery which is in preparation: L. K. Loe, Health and Socio-Economic Status in Early Medieval Wales (British Archaeological Reports British Series, forthcoming).

The human remains and site archive are curated in the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff.