Uncover the secret Prehistory of Rhiw
Are you looking for an archaeological adventure, full of exploration and mystery? Take a journey back in time and find out more about the early societies that have shaped Llŷn.
Our landscape holds many clues to how people lived on the peninsula thousands of years ago. Visit the remains which form some of the most significant archaeological sites of the period.
The axe factory at Mynydd Rhiw was discovered in the 1950s during gorse burning. It is reasonable to assume that the site dates to between the 5th and 3rd millennium BC (the Neolithic period).
It consists of several round hollows where rocks were excavated and flaked to produce various tools, such as axes and scrapers. These were traded widely over a very long period during the Neolithic and early Bronze ages.
This special place helps to reveal a picture of life on the flanks of Mynydd Rhiw at the end of the Stone Age. The remains show how Neolithic people strived to quarry a type of rock especially suitable for the manufacture of stone axes, and other tools of great importance to their way of life.
The Meillionydd project
Excavations near Rhiw have discovered a circular ‘double ringwork’ enclosure at Meillionydd. This is a type of hilltop enclosure that is found mostly on the Llŷn peninsula. It consists of two circular banks of earth and stone with a handful of internal roundhouses. The enclosures are likely to have been the permanent homes of several family groups. They would have also been a site for larger communal gatherings
The double ringwork enclosures offer a unique and as yet largely untapped resource for studying the origins of settlement in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (c. 1000–600BC).
Excavations carried out by the Bangor University project team have demonstrated that Meillionydd was occupied for a relatively long period of time. The practice of occupying this monumental enclosure over a long period and the rebuilding of roundhouses on the same spot implies a desire to maintain an ongoing link with the past - creating a special sense of place and history on the site.
A number of stone artefacts have been recovered from the site, including a hammerstone crafted from Mynydd Rhiw stone, which could have been extracted from the Neolithic axe factory.
The Mellionydd site is in the middle of a farmer’s field and is not accessible. However, you can experience reconstructed roundhouses at Felin Uchaf, where you can get a feel for how they would have looked.