The St Patrick’s Chapel Excavation Project: Public Engagement with the Rescue Excavation of an Early Medieval Cemetery in South West Wales
Marion Shiner [+]
University of Sheffield (postgraduate research student)
Katie A. Hemer [+]
University of Sheffield
Rhiannon Comeau [+]
Institute of Archaeology, University College London (doctoral research student)
Between 2014 and 2016, three seasons of fieldwork provided a rare opportunity for public engagement with the rescue excavation of an early medieval cemetery and other features below St Patrick’s Chapel, Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire. As the St Patrick’s Chapel Excavation Project progressed it became apparent not only that bone preservation was exceptionally good, but also that a relatively large number of burials of all age groups, including infants, was present. This paper appraises public engagement with a high-profile rescue excavation that included an extensive, visible and emotive mortuary dimension. Details of the nature of public engagement and the challenges involved are presented, followed by a review of the public response to the excavation of a complex, sensitive and nationally important early medieval cemetery.