Ancient Powys site might reveal Saxon hall

Volunteer Ruth Stafford helps with a geophysical survey at the site Volunteer Ruth Stafford helps with a geophysical survey at the site

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Archaeologists are to investigate what might be a rare 5th Century Saxon hall or palace on farmland in Powys.

Cambrian Archaeological Projects (CAP) will spend a month excavating a site at the Gaer Farm in Forden, near Welshpool.

CAP said if it was a Saxon building then it would only be the second of its type in Wales to be unearthed.

The site was first identified in 1987, but it has not been properly excavated until now.

Land at the Gaer Farm is historically significant because it is home to the remains of a Roman fort and other ancient settlements.

Aerial photographs and preliminary excavations have revealed a post-Roman settlement. Large post holes, which would have formed the foundations for a large building, have also been discovered.

'Significant find'

Project leader Mark Houliston said it was difficult to date the site. It is thought to be from the Saxon period, but it could be medieval or a Welsh settlement.

"We're excited it's a large building and post Roman, but until we excavate the site it's hard to say for certain what it is and when it was built," Mr Houliston added.

"There's speculation it could be a Saxon long house or palace and if that's the case it would be a significant find. We'll carry out radio carbon dating to try and date what we find.

"The building would have been a very large timber hall and possibly a palace. It measured 40m by 15m from aerial photos."

A geophysical survey has been carried out, which detects below-ground features and is useful in assessing the presence of archaeological remains.

Mr Houliston said the site could also be a Welsh llys (court) settlement, which were administrative buildings and more commonly found.

Ten volunteers and three archaeologists will spend a month, from 9 August, on the dig in Forden. There will be a public open day on 30 August.

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