AHNE Bryniau Clwyd / Clwydian Range AONB

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Moel Arthur - an early settlement

Despite being one of the smaller hillforts in the Range it has really impressive bank defences, especially to the north. Do these greater defences indicate more threat and attacks from the coast? Does evidence of bronze age axes and ‘sauna’ show that this was one of the earlier settlements?


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Moel Arthur is a small circular hillfort crowning a very prominent hill overlooking the Vale of Clwyd to the south of Penycloddiau. But although it covers only two hectares, it boasts some of the largest banks and ditches of all our hillforts.

These ramparts are slight on the west, where they form the boundary between Flintshire and Denbighshire, but much more developed to the north. There is one inturned entrance in the north-east.

Activity on Moel Arthur wasn't limited to the Iron Age. There is a possible Bronze Age burial mound in the centre of the hillfort and evidence of quarrying on the southern edge of the hill.

Legend has it that the hill was exploited during the short-lived “Cilcain Gold Rush” by ever-optimistic but sadly disappointed gold diggers.

Wynne Ffoulkes carried out some excavations in 1849 although the precise locations or number of trenches are not clear. He did find traces of regularly built dry stone walls as well as some “coarse red Roman pottery, and flint arrowheads and corroded iron” [i].

In 1962, following a severe rainstorm, a hoard of three copper Bronze Age flat axes was found within the defences [ii].

Forde Johnston first notes the guardchambers at the entrance way and the narrow access and commanding slope of the ramparts there. He suggests that the inner bank on the north was the first phase of construction with the outer bank built later.

However, a topographical survey by Engineering Archaeology Services (EAS) in 2006 suggests that the phasing was the other way round. 

[i] Wynne Ffoulkes 1850 Archaeologia Cambrensis

[ii] Forde Johnston 1965 Archaeologica Cambrensis

How to get there

From the Mold to Denbigh road (A541) take the first left after the Cilcain turn-off. The fort is two miles down this road with a small car park located near the site.

OS map: Explorer 265.
OS grid reference: SJ145660.

Moel Arthur leaflet

Moel Arthur leaflet

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