Carn Ingli, circa 1500BC to AD1845 : the application of geographical information systems to the study of settlement development at Newport, Pembrokeshire.
The primary aim of this study is to provide a cogent description and explanation of change
in rural settlement between circa 1 ,500BC and AD 1845 for an area centred on Mynydd Cam
Ingli, Pembrokeshire. Using a range of data sources, it evaluates the capability and validity
of applying new methods and techniques offered by geographical information systems
(GIS) to realise this aim and explore its potential for extending the agenda of possible
archaeological and historical enquiry. Recently published work demonstrates a growing
awareness of the potential benefits of applying GIS to archaeological resource management
and landscape archaeology, yet there is little evidence of its application to an integrated
archaeological, palaeoenvironmental, historical and geographical enquiry. It is not the
intention to use archaeological and historical data to demonstrate merely the merits of GIS,
but to judge its success in 'doing' archaeological and historical research.
Data sources are used irrespective of their suitability for input and analysis within the GIS.
Each source is examined individually to gauge their reliability and also to reveal what they
tell us about past settlement. The extent and nature of the archaeological record is assessed
using air photography together with associated palaeoenvironmental evidence. Opportunity
is taken to reflect on the potential value of photogrammetry and GIS to cultural resource
management. Historical maps and documents, in the form of census returns, estate plans,
rent rolls, court rolls provide a crucial human element to the study. Yet it is the tithe map
of 1845 that is at the hub of much of the analysis. Mid-nineteenth century agricultural
production, land use and tenure are analysed in relation to topographic and other
geographical constraints. The tithe map also serves as an 'anchor' for a retrospective study
of settlement development.
Archaeological, palynological and documentary evidence point to the ebb and flow of
mixed agriculture and settlement on Mynydd Cam Ingli during the Bronze Age and Iron
Age. Though there is palynological evidence of Dark Age activity, archaeological remains
of settlement are not evident. Charters detail the parcelling out of land as burgages during
the thirteenth century by Anglo-Norman lords and the establishment of an open field. Use
of the upland for communal grazing was tightly controlled by the lordship, but rapid
encroachment by squatters during the early nineteenth century reduced the area of
commons dramatically. Remnants of open field survive on estate plans of the mideighteenth
century and embedded within the tenurial pattern of the tithe map. It is suggested
that agriCUltural productivity as indicated by the tithe rent-charge is not only constrained
by environmental conditions but by the prolonged use of medieval farming practises that
echo those of the former open field.
The study suggests that the input of archaeological, historical and environmental data into
a GIS increases the scale and range of possible enquiries and enables questions to be asked
that would have been inconceivable using manual methods. However, success or failure
of the application of GIS to this type of study depends on the willingness of the researcher
not to forsake the traditional methods and techniques appropriate to the analysis of a diverse
range of sources. Though methodologically eclectic, adopting a broad landscape approach
in combination with the analytical power of GIS offers a formidable overarching
methodology for studying the past. Although the study concludes by suggesting that the
application of GIS is not itself unproblematic, it is argued that the work presented does
illustrate its potential value.