Deer park created by Llywelyn the Great discovered by archaeologists

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Archaeologists in Wales have discovered the remains of a thirteenth-century deer park, likely built during the reign of Llywelyn the Great (1195–1240).

The deer park was found last year at Brynkir in Gwynedd, North Wales, by a team from Manchester Metropolitan University. Next month eight Cardiff University archaeology students will set out to further explore the site.

Detail of a miniature of two deer and a snake. According to the text, the stag, when old, draws serpents from their holes with its breath and eats them, and its strength is renewed.

Cardiff postgraduate researcher Mark Baker is directing the project. He explains, “The importance of Brynkir has been re-emphasized by the work undertaken by the University. The former royal deer park of the native Welsh Princes, set within a far larger landscape designed for hunting and other sports, illustrates how much there is still to learn about the lives of the Princes.

“Identifying deer parks in a royal Welsh context helps reinforce the European dimension to studies of Medieval Wales. With the aid of the Welsh Historic Garden Trust’s Gwynedd Branch, a geophysical survey will aim to record the medieval gardens of the later manor house, which was owned by the descendants of Owain Gwynedd and which overlaid the earlier deer park.”




Three pieces of evidence alerted archaeologists to this lost park: the shape of the enclosures – oval with a smaller area thought to be used for seasonal culling of the herd; the name Brynkir itself – meaning ‘Hill of the Deer’ in Welsh; and finds of banks and ditches in this area.

In the final week of the project an open day will give the public a chance to see up-close the finds and find out more about the latest discoveries. The Brynkir 2013 open day takes place on Friday 30th August [11am - 4pm]. The excavation is supported by Snowdonia National Park Authority and the charity Love My Wales.

Source: Cardiff University

Sharan Newman