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THE DARK AGE about 400 - 1100 AD

THE CROSS AT LLANBADARN FAWR, 10th century

THE BEGINNINGS OF CEREDIGION
In post Roman times increasing numbers of settlers from Ireland were making their way to Wales. In about AD 450 an official named Cunedda brought his forces to the area to drive out the new settlers. This he did successfully and was able to give a portion of the captured territories to each of his eight sons. The land between the rivers Dyfi and Teifi was awarded to his son Ceredig, and the region has kept the name Ceredigion to the present day.

The DARK AGES
The Dark Age is so called partly because we know little of it and partly because life was considered pretty rough. It was a period of invasion, migration and disasters. We know of much of this because almost contemporary accounts of events survive in Annals such as Brut y Twysogion (Chronicles of the Princes) and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.These accounts deal with Kings, Princes, Saints battles and disasters (such as plagues). They tell us little of daily life and the archaeological record is of little help too.

IRISH CONNECTIONS
Documents indicate close connections with Ireland.This is supported by inscriptions on stone memorials which are in the Irish script - known as Ogam - some times alone or with a latin translation. These date to the 5th -7th centuries A.D. Later memorials consist of a cross and other motifs inscribed into the stone without an inscription. Some place names have Irish origins.

VIKING RAIDS
The documents provide brief descriptions of raids on the monasteries of Llanbadarn and St Dogmaels in about 987

DARK AGE SETTLEMENT SITES
Remains of settlement sites are rare. They may have lived in hill forts or around the present sites of churches where more recent development has destroyed or restricted excavation of the remains.

DARK AGE BURIALS
Burials are less rare. They may be identified by the presence of burials laid east-west in groups, sometimes in stone lined graves but without grave goods. These cemeteries were often bounded by a fence or ditch, the enclosed area known as a 'Llan' and this would become the focus for a religious site, and later a church often named after a saint hence Llan... in so many Welsh place names.

CHURCHES
A number of Christian sites became well established during the Dark Age. Llanbadarn Fawr and Llandewi Brefi almost certainly go back to the time of St David (6th Century AD) Many other church sites date from this time.

DARK AGE CHANCE FINDS
Chance finds of the Darkage are extremely rare. Some, of great value, were hidden by monks from Viking raiders. A few excavations in Wales have produced small quantities of poor quality local pottery, better quality imported pottery and a few metal ornaments.

Dodshon, R.A., (1994) Early Society and Economy [in Ceredigion], in Cardiganshire County History, pp 343-365

James, Heather, (1994), The Archaeology of Early Christianity in Cardiganshire, in Cardiganshire County History, pp 397-406

Kirby, D.P., (1994), The Political Development of Ceredigion, c 400 - 1081, in Cardiganshire County History, pp 318-343

O'Riain, Padraig, (1994), The Saints of Cardiganshire in Cardiganshire County History, pp 378-396

Thomas, W.Gwyn, (1994), The Early Christian Monuments, in Cardiganshire County History, pp 407-420