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Prehistoric Wales
Wales
in terms of human settlements covers the period from about 230,000 years ago, the date attributed to the earliest human remains found in what is now Wales, to the year AD 48 when the Roman army began a military campaign against one of the Welsh tribes. Traditionally, historians have believed that successive waves of immigrants brought different cultures into the area, largely replacing the previous inhabitants, with the last wave of immigrants being the Celts. However, studies of population genetics now suggest that this may not be true, and that immigration was on a smaller scale.

Contents

1 Palaeolithic 2 Mesolithic 3 Neolithic 4 The Bronze
Bronze
Age 5 The Iron Age 6 Notes 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Palaeolithic[edit] The earliest known human remains discovered in modern-day Wales
Wales
date from 230,000 years ago. An early Neanderthal
Neanderthal
upper jaw fragment containing two teeth, whose owner probably lived during an interglacial period in the Lower Palaeolithic, was found in a cave in the River Elwy
River Elwy
valley, at the Bontnewydd Paleaolithic site, near St Asaph (Welsh: Llanelwy), Denbighshire.[1][2] Excavations of the site in between 1978 and 1995 revealed a further 17 teeth belonging to five individuals, a total of seven hand axes and some animal bones, some of which show signs of butchery.[3] This site is the most north-westerly in Eurasia
Eurasia
at which the remains of early hominids have been found, and is considered to be of international importance. Late Neanderthal
Neanderthal
hand axes were also found at Coygan Cave, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire
and have been dated to between 60,000 and 35,000 years old.[4][5] The Paviland
Paviland
limestone caves of the Gower Peninsula
Gower Peninsula
in south Wales
Wales
are by far the richest source of Aurignacian
Aurignacian
material in Britain, including burins and scrapers dated to about 28,500 years ago.[6] The first remains of modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens to be found in Wales
Wales
was the famous Red Lady of Paviland. This was a human skeleton dyed in red ochre discovered in 1823 in one of the Paviland
Paviland
caves.[7] Despite the name, the skeleton is actually that of a young man who lived about 33,000 years ago at the end of the Upper Paleolithic Period (old stone age).[8] He is considered to be the oldest known ceremonial burial in Western Europe. The skeleton was found along with fragments of small cylindrical ivory rods, fragments of ivory bracelets and seashells.[9] Settlement in Wales
Wales
was apparently intermittent as periods of cooling and warming led to the ice sheets advancing and retreating. Wales appears to have been abandoned from about 21,000 years ago until after 13,000 years ago, with a burial found at Kendrick's Cave
Kendrick's Cave
on the Great Orme dating to about 12,000 years ago.[10] Mesolithic[edit] Following the last Ice age, Wales
Wales
became roughly the shape it is today by about 7000 BC and was inhabited by Mesolithic
Mesolithic
hunter-gatherers. Wales
Wales
has many sites where Mesolithic
Mesolithic
material has been found, but securely stratified material is rare.[11] The earliest dated Mesolithic
Mesolithic
site in Wales
Wales
is Nab Head, Pembrokeshire, around 9,200 years ago.[12] Many of the sites from this period are coastal, although 9,000 years ago they would have been some distance inland from the sea. There is a particular concentration in Pembrokeshire, but there are also a good number of upland sites, most apparently seasonal hunting locations, for example around Llyn Brenig.[13] Some decorated pebbles found at Rhuddlan
Rhuddlan
represent the earliest art found in Wales.[14] An investigation of post holes at the late Neolithic
Neolithic
- Early Bronze Age chambered tomb of Bryn Celli Ddu
Bryn Celli Ddu
on Anglesey, published in 2006, gave a radiocarbon dating which placed two of the holes in the Mesolithic
Mesolithic
period.[15] Neolithic[edit]

Bryn Celli Ddu, a late Neolithic
Neolithic
chambered tomb on Anglesey

The earliest farming communities are now believed to date from about 4000 BC, marking the beginning of the Neolithic
Neolithic
period. Pollen evidence indicates the clearing of forests on an increasing scale during this period. The Neolithic
Neolithic
saw the construction of many chambered tombs, the most notable including Bryn Celli Ddu
Bryn Celli Ddu
and Barclodiad y Gawres
Barclodiad y Gawres
on Anglesey.[16] Three main types of megalithic tomb are found in Wales, the Severn-Cotswold type in the south-east, the Portal dolmen type and the Passage graves which are characteristic of the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
area and the Atlantic façade of Europe and Morocco. Megalithic tombs are most common in the western lowlands.[17] There is evidence of close cultural links with Ireland, particularly in the Early Neolithic
Neolithic
period.[18] A number of houses from the Neolithic
Neolithic
period have also been found in Wales, most notably the settlement at Clegyr Boia
Clegyr Boia
near St David's
St David's
in Pembrokeshire. Many artefacts have also been found, particularly polished stone axeheads. There were a number of "factories" in Wales producing these axeheads, the largest being the Graig Lwyd factory at Penmaenmawr
Penmaenmawr
on the north coast which exported its products as far afield as Yorkshire
Yorkshire
and the English midlands.[19] Pottery finds also indicate a relationship with Ireland. The Bronze
Bronze
Age[edit]

The Mold cape, now in the British Museum

Metal tools first appeared in Wales
Wales
about 2500 BC, initially copper followed by bronze. The climate during the Early Bronze
Bronze
Age (c. 2100-1400 BC) is thought to have been warmer than at present, as there are many remains from this period in what are now bleak uplands. Much of the copper for the production of bronze probably came from the copper mine on the Great Orme, where prehistoric mining on a very large scale dates largely from the middle Bronze
Bronze
Age.[20] In particular copper from the Great Orme
Great Orme
mines appears to have been used for the production of bronze implements of the Acton Park Complex, named after a hoard found at Acton Park near Wrexham. These tools, particularly axeheads, were developed towards the end of the Early Bronze
Bronze
Age and are innovative in both metallurgy and design. They were widely exported, with examples being found along the continental coast from Brittany
Brittany
to north Germany.[21]

The Banc Ty'nddôl sun-disc
Banc Ty'nddôl sun-disc
Primary Bell Beaker Goldwork Tradition

Burial practices in the Bronze
Bronze
Age differed from the communal tombs of the Neolithic
Neolithic
period, with a change to burial in round barrows and the provision of grave goods. Inhumation was soon replaced by cremation and in Wales
Wales
the cemetery mound with a number of burials had become the standard form by about 2000 BC.[22] One of the most striking finds from Bronze
Bronze
Age Wales
Wales
was the gold cape found in a tomb at Bryn yr Ellyllion, Mold, Flintshire
Mold, Flintshire
dated to 1900-1600 BC, weighing 560 g and produced from a single gold ingot. Very few weapons have been found in Early Bronze
Bronze
Age graves in Wales
Wales
compared with other objects, and the lack of traces of earlier Bronze
Bronze
Age settlements is thought to indicate that farms or hamlets were undefended.[23] From about 1250 BC there was a deterioration in the climate which became more marked from about 1000 BC, with higher rainfall and much lower summer temperatures. This led to an increase in peat formation and probably the abandonment of many upland settlements.[24] It has been suggested that this led to conflict and to changes in social organization, with the earliest hillforts appearing about 800 BC.[25] The Late Bronze
Bronze
Age saw the development of more advanced bronze implements, with weapons becoming increasingly common.[26] While the weapons reflect introduced styles, there are pronounced regional variations in the styles of tools, particularly axes. On the basis of tool types, Wales
Wales
can be divided into four regions, the south-east, south-west, north-west and north-east. Interestingly these regions show an approximate correspondence to the territories of the tribes later recorded in these areas by the Romans, the Silures, Demetae, Ordovices
Ordovices
and Deceangli
Deceangli
respectively.[27] The Iron Age[edit]

Entrance through the dry-stone rampart, Tre'r Ceiri
Tre'r Ceiri
hillfort, Gwynedd

The earliest iron implements found in Wales
Wales
come from Llyn Fawr
Llyn Fawr
at the head of the Rhondda Valley, where objects apparently deposited as votive offerings include three made of iron: a sword, a spearhead and a sickle. These items are thought to date to about 650 BC, and while the sword appears to be imported the sickle is an imitation of a native bronze prototype.[28] The Iron Age saw the building of hillforts which are particularly numerous in Wales, examples being Pen Dinas near Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth
and Tre'r Ceiri
Tre'r Ceiri
on the Llŷn Peninsula. The earliest distinctively Iron Age settlement in Wales
Wales
is considered to be Castell Odo, a small hillfort near the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula, dated to about 400 BC.[29] The largest hillforts are most numerous along the eastern border of Wales, with some large examples also found in the lowlands of north-west Wales. In the south-west, by contrast, hillforts are very numerous but mainly small, with an area of under 1.2 hectares.[30] A particularly significant find from this period was made in 1943 at Llyn Cerrig Bach
Llyn Cerrig Bach
on Anglesey, when the ground was being prepared for the construction of a Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
base. The cache included weapons, shields, chariots along with their fittings and harnesses, and slave chains and tools. Many had been deliberately broken and seem to have been votive offerings.[31] These finds are considered to be one of the most important collections of La Tène metalwork discovered in Britain. Pottery on the other hand is fairly rare in Wales
Wales
during this period and most of what has been found appears to be imported.[32] The La Tène culture
La Tène culture
is traditionally associated with the Celts, and the general view until fairly recently was that the appearance of this culture indicated a large-scale invasion by peoples who also brought a Celtic language which later developed into Welsh.[33] The currently more popular view is that any movement of peoples was on a smaller scale, with cultural diffusion responsible for most of the changes. There is some evidence to support the latter model, such as burials associated with earlier religious sites.[34] It has been suggested that a Celtic language was being spoken in Wales
Wales
by about 700 BC. The prehistoric period ended with the arrival of the Roman army, who began their campaigns against the Welsh tribes in 48 AD with an attack on the Deceangli
Deceangli
in north-east Wales. Wales
Wales
was divided between a number of tribes, of which the Silures
Silures
and the Ordovices
Ordovices
put up the most stubborn resistance. The Roman conquest of Wales
Wales
was complete by 79 AD. The reports of Roman historians such as Tacitus
Tacitus
give a little more information about Wales
Wales
in this period, such as that the island of Anglesey
Anglesey
was apparently a stronghold of the Druids. The impact of the arrival of the Romans may have varied from one part of Wales
Wales
to another; for example there is evidence that some hillforts, such as Tre'r Ceiri, continued to be occupied during the Roman period. Notes[edit]

^ Lynch, Aldhose-Green & Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p. 6 ^ "Gathering the Jewels". Early Neanderthal
Neanderthal
jaw fragment, c. 230,000 years old. Culturenet Cymru. 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  ^ "Rhagor - opening our collections". The oldest people in Wales
Wales
- Neanderthal
Neanderthal
teeth from Pontnewydd Cave. Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. 2007-05-14. Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  ^ "Gathering the Jewels". Coygan Cave, Carmarthenshire. Culturenet Cymru. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-25. [dead link] ^ "Rhagor - opening our collections". The Cave Men of Ice Age Wales. Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales. 2007-05-11. Archived from the original on 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2008-09-25.  ^ Lynch, Aldhose-Green & Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p. 16 ^ [1] news.bbc.co.uk, accessed August 3, 2008 ^ Richards, MP; Trinkaus, E (September 2009). "Out of Africa: modern human origins special feature: isotopic evidence for the diets of European Neanderthals and early modern humans". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106: 16034–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.0903821106. PMC 2752538 . PMID 19706482.  ^ Lynch, Aldhose-Green & Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p. 18-19 ^ Lynch, Aldhose-Green & Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p. 41 ^ Lynch, Aldhouse-Green and Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p.39 ^ Lynch, Aldhouse-Green and Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p.23 ^ Lynch, Aldhouse-Green and Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p.31 ^ Lynch, Aldhouse-Green and Davies Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p.38 ^ Pitts, M. Sensational new discoveries at Bryn Celli Ddu
Bryn Celli Ddu
p.6 ^ Lynch, F. Prehistoric Anglesey
Anglesey
pp.34-42, 58 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
pp.42-43 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
pp.54 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
pp. 56-7 ^ Lynch, F. Gwynedd pp. 39-40 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p. 99 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p. 126 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p. 138 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
pp. 140-5 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
pp. 150 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
pp. 180 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
pp. 184 ^ Cunliffe, B. (ed) Iron Age communities in Britain p.290 ^ Foster, I.Ll. & Daniel, G Prehistoric and early Wales
Wales
p. 130 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p.147 ^ Lynch, F. Prehistoric Anglesey
Anglesey
pp.249-77 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p.199 ^ Cunliffe, B. (ed) Iron Age communities in Britain p.3 ^ Lynch, F. et al. Prehistoric Wales
Wales
p.213

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[2]

References[edit]

Barry Cunliffe (1987) Iron Age communities in Britain' (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2nd ed) ISBN 0-7100-8725-X John Davies, (1994) A History of Wales
History of Wales
(Penguin Books) ISBN 0-14-014581-8 I.Ll. Foster & Glyn Daniel (eds) (1965) Prehistoric and early Wales
Wales
(Routledge and Kegan Paul) John Edward Lloyd (1911) A history of Wales: from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest (Longmans, Green & Co.) Frances Lynch (1995) Gwynedd (A guide to ancient and historic Wales series) (HMSO) ISBN 0-11-701574-1 Frances Lynch (1970) Prehistoric Anglesey: the archaeology of the island to the Roman conquest ( Anglesey
Anglesey
Antiquarian Society) Frances Lynch, Stephen Aldhouse-Green and Jeffrey L. Davies (2000) Prehistoric Wales
Wales
(Sutton Publishing) ISBN 0-7509-2165-X Pitts, M. 2006. Sensational new discoveries at Bryn Celli Ddu. British Archaeology No. 89 (July/August) p. 6 J.A. Taylor (ed) (1980) Culture and environment in prehistoric Wales (BAR British series 76) ISBN 0-86054-079-0

External links[edit]

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales Artifacts from Pontnewydd Cave held on Gathering the Jewels Artifacts from Coygan Cave
Coygan Cave
held on Gathering the Jewels Artifacts from Paviland
Paviland
Cave held on Gathering the Jewels Mesolithic
Mesolithic
stone beads from Nabs Head, Pembrokeshire, held on Gathering the Jewels Mesolithic
Mesolithic
fins from Rhuddlan
Rhuddlan
held on Gathering the Jewels Pentre Ifan Cromlech/Dolmen in Pembrokeshire, Wales Carreg Coetan Arthur Cromlech/Dolmen in Pembrokeshire, Wales The Prehistoric Monuments in Wales, Herbert E. Roese

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