April 29, 2021

Darganfod-Discovery 2021: Dr Rhiannon Comeau

Dr Rhiannon Comeau on ‘Pre-Norman focal zones and seasonality: a cantref-level case study’.

Dinas Powys and Llangorse, subjects of two of the other Darganfod talks, are jewels in the early medieval landscape – a landscape that, in many other areas of Wales, is very poorly understood, being short in both archaeological finds and written records. This presentation, based on recently-published PhD research, takes an innovative approach to these problems. Using a case study (the early medieval cantref of Cemais in north Pembrokeshire) it demonstrates how a multidisciplinary approach, identifying focal zone elements known from other areas of northern Europe, can be used to locate key places – hotspots – in the pre-Norman landscape. It also looks at how the seasonal patterns of use of these places can be identified using available evidence. In particular, this approach identifies the cantref’s assembly sites, the gathering places of the pre-urban world where, at particular times of the year, people gathered for business and festivals. Understanding of these has hitherto been very limited for early medieval Wales, and this research presents the first comprehensive study of early medieval assembly sites in a Welsh context.

Further reading:

Comeau, R. 2020. Land, People and Power in Early Medieval Wales: the cantref of Cemais in comparative perspective, B.A.R. British Series 659. Oxford, British Archaeological Reports.