A POSSIBLE prehistoric ‘cist’ burial site has been found during an archaeological evaluation of the site of a new school.

The ancient grave lined with stones – usually used for the inhumation of a body or deposition of an urn or ashes – has been found at land opposite Bron Eifion Lodge in Criccieth.

Other artefacts, including a possible ‘quern’ a type grinding stone, and worked chert have also been found.

The investigation comes ahead of the development of the new school Ysgol Treferthyr.

According to Tom Fildes, development control archaeologist, for the Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service an early stage of a programme of archaeological evaluation is being undertaken.

More is hoped to be learned about the site as the work continues.

The investigation aims to provide insight into the “archaeological potential” of the site to help facilitate a “more informed planning decision.”

The evaluation includes a geophysical survey; the collection of data and analysis of the magnetic and gravitational fields in the earth, to detect any archaeology.

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Mr Fildes explained that planning authorities often also require evaluation by trial trenches to help them decide whether to order more detailed archaeological work before a development is approved.

During the recent work 22 shallow trial trenches, of about 30m x 1.8m wide, were dug. It was during this phase of this evaluation the cist grave was identified.

Other archaeological features such as a post medieval track way and former boundary ditches were also discovered.

“In the cist there were no human remains found during the excavation but experts say this could be a result of the preservation conditions on the site,” he said.

“Bone does not always survive over time, depending on the composition of the local soils, as well whether the deposit is wet or dry.

“Whilst cist burials can be observed throughout different periods, it is likely that this particular example is prehistoric in origin – owing to some of the artefacts retrieved from the same trench.

“This has included a possible grindstone or quern, and also a piece of worked chert.”

Further archaeological mitigation work has been recommended to the Local Planning Authority by GAPS.

It is also expected that further archaeological investigations will be conducted under conditions applied to the developer’s planning permission, if it is granted.

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A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “As part of the planning requirement, a preliminary archaeological survey on the site of the new school, Ysgol Treferthyr in Criccieth was carried out.

“The report on the survey noted that what is believed to be a cist grave had been discovered.

“In response, Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service have requested some further investigations.

“Gwynedd Council have agreed to their request and are working with Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service in order to formulate and agree a methodology to carry out the work as soon as possible.

“Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service have agreed that the result of the additional work will not be required before the planning application is considered.”

The Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service is the autonomous, impartial curatorial service within Gwynedd Archaeological Trust (GAT).

It provides planning advice to local and national government, and other bodies, and reviews all planning applications with a view to the historic environment.

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