ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Monmouth have proven that there was an Ango-Saxon settlement in the town and the only one in South Wales.

Archaeologists led by Steve Clarke and helped by Mike Emery Builders and senior officers of Monmouthshire County Council, discovered new evidence of a Saxon settlement during rescue excavations inside Commerce House at Monmouth Bus Station.

Shards of cooking pottery which were made in Saxon Gloucester, were found by Monmouth Archaeological Society while exploring a series of earth floors of Medieval houses under the building and have recovered pottery and bones dated from the 11th century up to the time of the Black Death in AD 1348. There were also some Roman and prehistoric finds.

Mr Clarke, who is the chairman and founding member of Monmouth Archaeological Society, said the suggestion that there had been an Anglo-Saxon presence in the town -possibly a defended ‘Burgh’ – has always been somewhat controversial although there have been clues that there may have been one.

During an excavation, which followed the demolition of 85 Monnow Street, a piece of a ‘Chester Ware’ pot was found. This, although pre-Norman, may have arrived with the early Norman invaders after the Battle of Hastings. More recently, however, a small piece of Gloucester-made pottery called Cotswold Ware was identified by the society following trial excavations by the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust on the site of the Almshouses off St. James’ Square.

“Now the Commerce House discovery, at 95 Monnow Street, appears to have settled the argument – the Saxons had, after four hundred years, fought their way into Monmouth,” said Mr Clarke.

“However, patriotic Welshmen can take heart from the fact that the Saxons took 200 years to fight their way to the Severn and another 200 years to get to the Wye when they were overtaken by the Normans following the defeat of the English at Hastings; 200 years later the Welsh were still fighting these latest invaders and even rose again another 200 years later under Owain Glyndŵr.”

He added that intriguingly, there appears to have been some cooperation between the Anglo-Saxons of Hereford and Gloucester and the Welsh of the Celtic Kingdom of Archenfield where, strangely, Offa’s Dyke was never built. Monmouth was at the very tip of Archenfield, between the Monnow and the Wye.

The excavators and the pottery specialist were unfunded volunteer members of Monmouth Archaeological Society who spent two weeks working in the building.