Caldicot, Gwent

The creation of a lake in the grounds of Caldicot Castle Country Park prompted a programme of archaeological work, funded by CADW, and carried out by Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust that began in 1990 and lasted for several seasons. The site is located in the floodplain of the River Nedern and the excavations focused on palaeochannels of Neolithic to early Iron Age date.

In the Neolithic the local environment varied from reedswamp to salt marsh but it was only in the Early Bronze Age that a constrained channel developed, containing several lines of hazel stakes that were probably the remains of a fish trap.

By the Middle Bronze Age there was only occasional tidal influence in the channel which cut through an open grassy floodplain. A timber from the hull of a sewn plank boat was recovered from the sediments. This, and three other sewn boat fragments, suggests that the site may have been used to break up or repair boats.

After a phase of silting up the channel widened out to 7m width and a wood and stone feature on its bed was created in 998/7 BC to serve as a possible ford or hard. Then there was a period of increasing marine influence before a double line of oak and ash piles was created in 990 or 989 BC, probably acting as a bridge across the channel, although a series of smaller hazel stakes between the lines of uprights may have acted as a fishweir. A wood and stone trackway in the channel bed may have acted as a construction platform for the bridge.

Over 5,000 pieces of wood were recorded and one of the largest Bronze Age animal bone assemblages in Wales, dominated by sheep but with other domestic animals in addition to wildfowl red deer and beaver. The channel deposits also revealed an amber bead, a complete dog skeleton and a Wilburton style sword chape (metal scabbard end).

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