An archaeological field survey of part of the Black Mountain in south-east Dyfed : a contribution to the interpretation of economy and settlement in the region from prehistory to the early modern period
A survey of archaeological sites was carried out across 60 km2 of the Black Mountain in south-east Dyfed, an upland common. These are described and placed in a putative chronological sequence against a palaeo-environmental backcloth. Sepulchral cairns are the earliest sites recorded, probably belonging to the early second millennium bc. House circles and homesteads may date to later prehistory and the early proto-historic period, while numerous rectangular foundations are probably the remains of Medieval, possibly later Medieval, settlement. Boundaries partition part of the landscape and there are stone clearance heaps and strips. Land-use is discussed up until the early Post-Medieval period, taking account of both the monuments and the palaeo-environmental data and informed by definition of some parameters within which exploitation of upland environments can take place. Seasonality of resources, the importance of the wider region and the requirements for mobility are amongst the factors considered. The historical model of transhumance which is frequently applied to the Welsh uplands is examined. Periodic hunting, gathering and husbandry is suggested in the area prior to c. 2000 bc after which perceptions of the landscape seemingly begin to change with evidence for episodes of more formal management relating to animal husbandry and limited cultivation. Although settlement may frequently have been transient, overwintering or longer periods of continuous occupation are not precluded in response to a combination of economic, social and environmental factors. Suggestions are made for further work.