Small Enclosures in Wales and the Isle of Man

About the Project

Current research on the Iron Age and native Roman periods recognises that there are strong regional traditions that are manifested in the settlement evidence across Britain. The current research project examines the settlement forms in South-West Wales, particularly in North Pembrokeshire and South Cardiganshire.


This research programme allows West Wales to be a significant contributor to current academic debates on Iron Age and native Roman settlement as well as assisting in the protection of the historic environment. It aims to investigate a number of key questions:

  • What was the regional chronology of settlement types through the Iron Age, Roman and post-Roman periods?
  • At what times was there population nucleation, and why?
  • How was monumentality in enclosing earthworks used, and in what contexts?
  • Do settlement plans across the region indicate differences in identity, status or function?
  • To what extent is a sample of the newly discovered site types deserving of statutory protection?


Large scale excavations have taken place over a number of years at Castell Henllys Iron Age fort and adjacent native Roman settlements. During this time, some small enclosures have been investigated in the vicinity, notably Berry Hill, Henllys Top Field and Cwm Gloyne. Aerial photography has recently revealed a significant number of sites north and east of Castell Henllys, in Pembrokeshire and south Cardiganshire. These sites are subject to further investigation.

Aerial photographic data has been plotted and the sites have been examined on the ground to assess their topographic setting. A selected number of sites were geophysically surveyed FROM 2004 TO 2007, revealing in some cases important evidence of internal structures including roundhouses.

Small enclosures on the Isle of Man were investigated from 2010. This fieldwork will provide evidence which will allow valuable comparison with those already studied in Wales. The data from Wales and the Isle of Man will also contribute to wider interpretation of enclosed settlement in western Britain and Ireland for the Iron Age, Roman and early medieval periods.


The project was funded by the following institutions:


Dyfed Archaeological Trust