I would challenge anyone to visit Din Lligwy and claim they are
not at least "slightly impressed." Most visitors I suspect would
tick "highly impressed" !
The huge blocks of white limestone megaliths that make up this
site are striking, even to the most casual visitor. The place has
an atmosphere, a feeling of old and of a connection with
the old people (yr Hen Bobl) and the old ways.
Celts in the Roman era: A not-too-grand country
There is no mistaking
that this site, mainly dated to the 4th century AD, is well laid
out - it is often officially described as an "Iron Age hut group."
But archaeologist Frances Lynch has described it as a
"not-too-grand country house."
It is in fact a Celtic or Native British version of a Roman
Villa, a Celtic country house, probably owned by a local chieftain,
a landowner-farmer, the Celtic version of today's "country
gentleman" perhaps. He would have lived here and managed his estate
on the surrounding farmland.
On visiting Din Lligwy it is quite easy to distinguish between
the two round huts (where the people lived) and the rectangular
buildings (where excavations have shown they would have worked iron
or stored livestock). The grander of the two round huts is assumed
to be the chieftain's house.
An interesting feature of this site
is that, despite clear Roman influences, it seems that the chief
has in fact hung on to the Celtic tradition of living in a
roundhouse. (The Romans preferred rectangles.) Perhaps my ancestors
did not want to seem too Romanized after all!
It is always the question for me - what was the relationship
between the Romans (invaders, tax collectors, administrators) and
the Celts/British/ proto-Welsh (locals)? Were the occupants of
Din Lligwy left to their own devices as long as they paid their
They certainly had wealth and status here. Imported (and then
repaired) pottery was found here, so we know that the inhabitants,
despite having the wealth to obtain imported pottery, didn't waste
Excavations by Edward Neil Baynes in 1908 found evidence of
occupation dating to the 4th century AD, but for me, Din
Lligwy could well be more than a Roman-era-only site. I suspect
there's even more here than meets the eye.
It feels older than we can prove -- a site
sacred to the Druids?
Maybe it's the fact that we are on a slight elevation here, a
limestone plateau, surrounded by trees - visiting as a child it
felt almost as if we had entered one of the sacred groves of the
Druids. But let's not start causing confusion here. We can never
prove a Druidic connection; wherever they practised on
Anglesey we will probably never know. It's not possible to excavate
a grove of trees. There would be no indication of such a site and
no structural remains. Besides the Druids would have been long gone
by the 4th century.
To me this site feels far older than it
is, perhaps because there is a Neolithic monument nearby (Lligwy
Burial Chamber), and Din Lligwy's hilltop would have been an
obvious site for the chamber builders to use.
In addition, Neolithic flints have been found at Din Lligwy,
which likely indicate occupation or use of the site during the
Neolithic. Indeed this is a very common feature of archaeological
excavation on sites of any period: flint tools are quite often
found "out of context" or underneath more recent occupation layers.
Therefore the use of this site during the Neolithic Period cannot
be ruled out.
Whether this site belongs to one historical era or more, it
fascinates me. I so enjoy being here, sharing this site with
others, and soaking up the atmosphere of Yr Hen