An open evening during the final week of excavation at the site of Nevern Castle in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park attracted more than 120 people keen to find out what has been unearthed.
The chance to play a game of Nine Men’s Morris on a board hidden for nearly 900 years was among the highlights of the evening.
Visitors also saw a 12th century tower uncovered during the month-long excavation, which was managed by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Dr Chris Caple, of Durham University, with support from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust.
The open evening was organised by Nevern Community Council, which is working closely with the Authority on the project and owns the site of the Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Those involved in the dig are looking forward to a further excavation next summer. They also hope that funding from Cadw (via the Welsh Assembly Government’s Welsh Cultural Heritage Initiative) will enable more work on site in years to come.
The National Park Authority’s Archaeological Heritage Manager Phil Bennett said: "The funding from Cadw has been an enormous boost to the project. The excavation is one part of the project which will provide interpretation for the site and present the monument in a way that visitors can understand."
Chris Caple, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Durham University, explained the significance of Nevern Castle: "It’s important because we see a fusion of Anglo-Norman and Welsh building techniques and cultural traditions on this site. It’s exciting because whereas almost every other castle in Wales is constructed with mortar – or earth and timber – this castle lies as a ‘missing link’ between these two techniques.
"We have some structures here which are stone and earth and some defences that appear to be made of wood. So we are half way between a wooden castle and a stone or mortar castle so at this point in the 12th century we are seeing a change in the way castles are being built.
"The excavation is a rare opportunity to look at a site which has such a castle; other such castles have been built on by later generations so we have lost the evidence."
During the dig, the team hosted visits from local school groups, including pupils from nearby Eglwyswrw School. Pupil William Mepham, aged 11, said: "We saw the stone tower and we found out how there have been logs holding up some of the buildings. We saw doorways and unexplained markings too. If there’s another excavation next year I’ll definitely come back to see what else they find."