Bury Holms

Bury Holms full of potential!

The Arfordir project coordinator with a group of volunteers discussing the ruins of the religious buildings on Burry Holms island on a recent guided walk

Volunteers on a guided walk to Burry Holms

As part of the Arfordir project, Ellie recently led a guided walk for volunteers out to the tidal island of Bury Holms.

They were very lucky with the weather, and had a very enjoyable day identifying new archaeological sites and assessing the condition of other sites.

The hillfort which encloses the top of the hill is very well-preserved with a deep ditch and a high bank forming defences on one side, with the steep cliffs forming defences on the seaward sides of the island. There is a Bronze Age burial mound at the far western end of the hillfort, which would have been in existence when the fort was in use. One new site that was identified in the course of this fieldwork was a modern concrete pad, partially cut into the burial mound, which was initially interpreted as a Second World War gun emplacement, but which turned out to be a lighthouse base for the gas-fired lighthouse which was set up there after the Whiteford lighthouse was decommissioned.

On the other side of the island, the group visited the extensive ecclesiastical complex. They saw the ruined remains of a small stone church, and the ruins of another building which might have been a teaching room, both dating to the medieval period. Just to the south of the church are the foundations and earth banks which defined a large area of domestic buildings and living quarters. To the north of these is a building which is thought to date to after the reformation of the church under Henry VIII, part of which are still standing to around 2m high! When parts of this site were excavated in the 1960s, they found that the remains earlier buildings from the Early-medieval period survived underneath these buildings.

The group hopes to do a detailed survey of the ecclesiastical remains as part of the project, though that will have to wait until autumn, when the vegetation is a little lower!