Glaslyn Estuary (Glaslyn Prehistory Project) and the CARD Fund

Excavations at Hir-Ynys in the Glaslyn estuary in Snowdonia

The Glaslyn Prehistory Project received funding for two radiocarbon dates from the Community Archaeology Radiocarbon Dating (CARD) Fund in 2017. Established in 2016 by Archaeological Research Services Ltd and the SUERC Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, the CARD Fund aims to cover the cost of around ten radiocarbon dates each year for British community archaeological groups or projects.

The Glaslyn Prehistory Project, which focuses on the head of the Glaslyn estuary in Snowdonia, uncovered a midden at Parc Coed containing significant quantities of shells, as well as smashed bones from cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. These were found with burnt and heat-shattered stones, as well as the remains of burnt wood, which resulted from preparing and cooking significant quantities of food. Two limpet shells were dated by SUERC Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory and returned dates of 346-26 BC and 325 BC-18 AD (95% probability), indicating a late Iron Age date for the midden. This project gives us a vivid insight into the large communal feasts which late prehistoric communities in North Wales participated in. A report on the project entitled ‘An Iron Age Feast: Excavation of a Shell Midden at Parc Coed, Llanfrothen, Gwynedd’, including further details of the radiocarbon dating, will be published in a forthcoming edition of Archaeology in Wales.

A second, successful application for further radiocarbon dates was submitted for the Glaslyn Prehistory Project in 2020. Other middens along the Glaslyn Estuary pre-dating the one found at Parc Coed have been uncovered at Hir Ynys, and these are believed to date back to the early Mesolithic period. The CARD Funded radiocarbon dates, when they have been produced, will assist in providing a comparative study of both the extent of human activity and the exploitation of shellfish as an important dietary component in the Glaslyn estuary during the prehistoric period.

CARD Fund applications for this year are welcomed – please see for more information and guidance on how to apply. The application deadline for the 2021 round of funding is 30th November.

Archaeological Research Services Ltd