Prehistoric landscapes in North Wales
This thesis evaluates man's physical imprint on the natural landscape of North Wales
in the prehistoric period and considers what imprint remains from his activities.
Man's imprint can be classed under four main headings, namely, that arising from
domestic, ritual, economic and defensive activities. Such diverse activities afford
opportunities to consider multiple features together, thereby illuminating coordinated
action between regions and emerging tribal groups.
The investigations have emphasised the importance of open coastal and estuarine
landfalls, from the Neolithic period onwards, and routes leading inland from them,
especially along river valleys. Settlements tended to form clusters along them, the
research suggesting that the earliest small upland sites were probably of the Beaker
Late Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual is well attested, but the research also reveals
the ritual importance of watersheds and running water in these periods.
Constructional skills developed rapidly, even to developing an architectural
awareness. A consideration of structures from the Bronze and Iron Ages suggested
guidelines for distinguishing between unexcavated, and therefore not otherwise
dated, structures from these periods.
Some buildings, together with some other factors, strongly suggest the practice of
transhumance in North Wales from as early as the Neolithic; while the layout of
some settlements, believed to be Iron Age, suggest the development of partible
inheritance among families, with the consequent multiple sub-division of land.Research into the siting of hill-forts has revealed observational and defensive
networks, both coastal and inland, including along some identifiable tribal
Some hill-forts are now seen to have been collecting points and storage depots for
goods, temporarily held for onward transmission, or for longer periods for
redistribution, perhaps for other tribes as well as for local groups.
These investigations suggest that the North Wales landscape, excluding the effects of
modem industry and mechanized farming, with their attendant land enclosures, had
changed little since prehistoric times and the pattern of the ancient landscape can still