We had a great response to our call for volunteer archaeologists to assist with the investigations into our parkland history during October and November. As well as some old hands who had helped out with the archaeological digs back in 2015, during the development phase of “Middleton: Paradise Regained”, we had plenty of new blood. Among these were students from Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth and members of the Garden’s very own Young Archaeologists’ Club.
The volunteers had to endure some very wet and some very cold days but, despite everything that our West Wales weather could throw at them, the team, (including staff from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust) explored a total of 17 trial trenches.
The trenches were all located to explore specific parts of the landscape and investigate possible historic features. Some potential features had been spotted from aerial photographs or identified from the geophysical survey, while other trenches targeted known historic trackways or parkland trees recorded on maps dating back to the 19th century.
Although the archaeologists are still analysing the results, initial findings suggest that we have even more surviving buried archaeological remains than we at first thought. In the northern part of the investigated area, there is a sequence of trackways and drives across the parkland which may go back to the time of the Middleton family in the 17th century or even earlier. While, in the south, in the 17th century ornamental gardens surrounding the site of the Middleton family’s mansion, there are even better preserved structures, paths and water features than previously expected.
As luck would have it, while the excavations were going on, a film crew from the BBC came and filmed a short piece about the Garden and the parkland restoration project. It was a great opportunity to explain a bit about the history of the Garden and for some of our volunteers to be on TV (but we are going to have to wait 18 months before the episode is aired and we get to see them!).
But you won’t have to wait anywhere near that long before we know more about what has been revealed. Keep following the heritage blog and we’ll make sure you are updated with the latest results.