Broadcast 10 March 2013
In July 2012 an archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4’s Time Team at Upton Castle, near Cosheston, Pembrokeshire, Wales (centred on NGR 202050, 204690) to investigate the fabric of the castle itself and a small chapel within the castle grounds. The castle is thought to have been built in the 13th century by the Malefant family, while the chapel, which was probably once the parish church for Nash-cum-Upton, is thought to have originated in the 12th/13th century.
The evaluation consisted of ten trenches, both hand and machine excavated. It was clear both from the archaeology within the trenches and from analysis of the standing remains of the castle that considerable alterations had been made to the building since its probable foundation in the 13th century, but the dating of these alterations was difficult to ascertain.
Certain architectural details of the castle were perhaps ornamental rather than practical. There was no moat in front of the eastern tower, and the drawbridge chain holes and the ‘murder hole’ were therefore probably ornamental additions which served no actual practical purpose. It is possible that there was a large pit in front of the main doorway which did not extend as far as the western tower, but no evidence of this was revealed in the geophysical survey and it could not be investigated through trenching.
Six trenches were excavated around the chapel in order to investigate the development of the building and perhaps provide dating for any alterations as well as to investigate the possibility of pre-chapel archaeological remains.
Evidence was revealed to suggest the chapel was possibly founded in the 11th or 12th century, earlier than had been initially thought. This dating was supported by the identification of nine burials, one of which yielded a radiocarbon date of 1010-1160 cal AD. Geophysical survey revealed that the chancel had originally been apsidal-ended, a Norman architectural form. The original chapel may have been a single-celled structure. The apse was subsequently replaced with a square chancel, possibly to conform to the architectural styles of the 13th/14th century, but this was clearly a later addition to the nave, which may have been contemporaneous with the apsidal chancel. Further alterations may have occurred in the 16th century, including the blocking of the chapel’s northern ‘Devil’s Door’. No pre-chapel remains were found.