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EP 99

Carried out for Caroe and Partners, Architects

Casgliad Tirlun Cymru (Welsh Landscape Collection) National Library of Wales

Hollinrake Archaeology Co-op
Consultant Archaeologists,
12 Bove Town,
Somerset BA6 8JE
Telephone: 01458 833332

Report number 271

The excavation of a service trench through the churchyard at Ewenny Priory
exposed a feature tentatively identified as a filled-in watercourse, a possible wall
foundation and 22 supine burials. The burials lay partially below the present church
path which runs up to the North Porch giving rise to a discussion of the date of the path.
Pottery of the Romano-British, medieval and post-medieval periods were recovered
from in and around the graves. Consideration of the location of Ewenny within the
Romano-British settlement pattern suggests the site lies near the place where the major
Roman road for South Wales crosses the River Ewenny. An architectural fragment
carrying an unusual haut relief suggests the site once ccontained an earlier church.


1.1 Ewenny Priory is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (no. Gm 190). Renovation
and repair to the building requires special sensitivity and expertise and attracts the
support and guidance of CADW. Caroe and Partners, an architectural practice
specialising in historic buildings, set out the project design and the ground works were
carried out by Dimbylow Crump Ltd. under the project manager Gary Perkins.

1.2 As part of the renovation works a new service trench was excavated from west
of the North Porch northwards to the road. This trench was nominally 0.45m wide x
0.60m deep and was cut for an electricity mains cable and a waste water pipe.

1.3 Unexpectedly, this trench revealed a series of burials. These were initially
recorded by Caroe and Partners resident archaeologist Mr. Jerry Sampson but there
were soon too burials many for him to properly deal with and he called in consultant
archaeologists C. & N. Hollinrake who completed the recording of the archaeological
deposits exposed within the service trench.
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1.4 The archaeological recording was undertaken by C. & N. Hollinrake assisted by
the ground workers from Dimbylow Crump on the 18th and 19th of June and the 8th of
July 1999. C. & N. Hollinrake also undertook the background research on which this
paper is based, except for the study of the church building itself, which was undertaken
by Jerry Sampson, who also provided the historical background summarised below.

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2.1 Topography and Soils

Figure 1. Location map. The red star marks Ewenney and the red circle indicates
Ogmore Castle.

2.1.1 The Ewenny River, a tributary of the Ogmore River, rises on the western slopes
of Mynydd y Gaer. The estuary of the Ogmore River and its connected river system
must always have been an important factor for transport, communications and defence,
an importance reflected in the density of Roman sites along its banks (Figure 2) and the
siting of the Norman stronghold of Ogmore Castle near its mouth.
Ewenny Priory is situated some 3.5 kilometres up the river from the estuary and
small port of Ogmore-by-Sea. Figure 1A shows that the Priory is near to the spot where
the Roman road which runs from Cardiff to the north near Bridgend crosses the river.
(Grid Ref: SS912 778)

2.1.2 The Priory lies on a small area of the Lawford series of Denchworth type soils.
These are "seasonally waterlogged slowly permeable soils" with an underlying geology
of Jurassic and Cretaceous clay, described as:
Slowly permeable seasonally waterlogged clayey soils with similar
fine loamy over clayey soils. Some fine loamy over clayey soils with only
slight seasonal waterlogging and some slowly permeable calcareous clayey
soils. Landslips and associated irregular terrain locally.

These soils are best suited for
Winter cereals and short term grassland in drier lowlands, dairying
on permanent grassland in most districts.1

Soil Survey of England and Wales
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2.2 Historical Background (Figure 2)
Ewenny Priory



R. O g m
Glanwenny. E we n m
R nti u
00401M Ave
16 m
Ewenny Cardiff
Priory Cowbridge
00400M line of Roman road

90/70 20/70



(poss. occupied)
Roman fort
signal station Old Burrow
signal station
industrial site
>150m SOMERSET Combwich
00413M SMR number
Location and Roman sites

Taken from Glamorgan County History Vol. II, pp. 291 & 294, and Aston and Burrow, 1982, p. 64.
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2.2.1 Roman period (See Figure 2)

Between AD55 - 60 the Roman frontier advanced into South Wales, the territory

of the Iron Age tribe of the Silures. The first Roman fort was built in Usk in the mid-

50s, probably by the XX Legion moving up from the Severn Valley.3 The Silures

offered stiff resistance and the Romans built another fort in a location which now lies

below Cardiff Castle4. A road connected the fort at Cardiff to the small town at

Cowbridge before extending north-west towards the neighborhood of Ewenny.5

The Sites and Monuments Record identifies the Roman site of Bomium with a

nearby Roman fort (00413M Bomium Roman fort SS9045 7815). The name BOMIUM,
from the Antonine Itinerary, was thought by Jackson to be a misreading of the name

BOVIUM. This would derive from the British bou-, meaning 'cow', and has been

identified with the Roman settlement at Cowbridge.6

Ewenny has been identified with the name Aventio from the Ravenna

Cosmography, probably the name of a British river goddess.7 The British form of the

name would be Aventius, deriving from ewyll-ys meaning 'wish, will' suggesting the

river is named after its spring source 8 The name suggests this would have been a holy


2.2.2 Medieval period
This passage is taken largely from the historical digest prepared by Jerry Sampson.

Documents attest to the founding of a priory at Ewenny in 1114. It is suggested,

however, that an earlier foundation preceded this church on or near to the site,9 a view

3 Savory, 1984, p. 280.
4 Savory, 1984, p. 277.
5 Savory, 1984, p. 285.
6 Rivet & Smith, 1979, p. 273.
7 Savory, 1984, p. 461.
8 Rivet & Smith, 1979, p. 260-1.
9 Savory 1984, p. 486.
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confirmed by the discovery of 10th and 11th century memorial stones during the

building of a new north aisle in 1895.10 A convent based on the church of a prior and
twelve monks was in existence by 1141. The church of St. Michael stands in the corner

of a walled defensive circuit built in the twelfth century or later, making it the best

example of a defended monastery in Wales11.

A letter from Gilbert Foliot, abbot of Gloucester (1139-48), to Prior Osbern,

prior of Ewenny or Cardigan, provides an insight into these troubled times:

"I recommend you to strengthen the locks of your doors and surround your
house with a good ditch, and an impregnable wall lest that people which as
you say, gazes with shaggy brow and fierce eyes, break into it and destroy
with one blow all your labour and sweat...We see, indeed, our own people
take little account of the fear of God and reverence for his sanctuary but we
hear that they [the Welsh] diligently honour holy places and persons
consecrated to God. Because of all these things it is hard for us to be
planted by those who hardly care, only to be rooted out by those who
honour us."12

The church is almost entirely Norman in date, its original components including
a central tower, square east end, a pair of chapels east of each transept, and a nave with
north aisle and north porch.13 The nave served as the parish church whilst the crossing
and transepts served the monastery, meaning that the bulk of the church always lay
partly outside of the defensive monastic precinct whilst being incorporated within it.14
The parish of St. Michael was granted to William de Londres, builder of the
Norman coastal fortress of Ogmore Castle, some 3.5 kilometres from the Priory at the
mouth of the river Ewenny.15 The priory was founded by his son Maurice.
In 1741 the property came into the hands of the Turbervill family who began
renovations of the, by then, ruinous buildings in 1800.16 Baddeley's plan of the church

Sampson, p. 1.
Sampson ibid.
Sampson, ibid., quoting F.G.Cowley, 'The Church from the Norman Conquest to the Beginning of the
14th century' in T.B.Pugh (ed.), Glamorgan County History:III, The Midle Ages,' Cardiff, p. 187-135.
Sampson, p. 2.
Sampson, ibid.
Baddeley, 1913, p. 1.
Sampson, p. 3.
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details those parts of the building which had been demolished plus the new north aisle.
(Figure 3).17

Figure 3. Church plan (from Baddeley).

Figure 4. Detail of Carter's Plan, 1803 (north is to the bottom of the drawing).18

Baddeley, 1913.
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A report on Ewenny mill stream and mill, 29/8/188219, illustrates improvements to the
property and the problems that ensued.

There is evidence that the Ewenny River, which now forms the Mill race
has been diverted at some distant date from its natural course from near
the Cowbridge Road to the Ewenny Mill for the purposes of that Mill.
This is clearly shown by the fact that the ordinary water level in the river
is from 3 to 4 feet above the lowest land in the centre of the valley or
natural drainage level...there are no sufficient waste weirs, the flood
sluices inconvenient and liable to neglect, and the result is flooding by
backwater of the lands at and about the Priory.

To remedy this appears to me that two courses only are open. The first
and most obvious is to abandon the Mill as a Mill and to cause the river
to revert to its ancient course.

Wm. Dyne Steel engineer

He goes on to express the view that the flooding has been caused by unauthorised

alterations to the mill by the Miller, who was a tenant of Turbervill. Some of the

alterations to the River Ewenny may be seen in the historic maps discussed below. The

proximity of the new mill race to the church suggests that the flood problems might

have affected the church.

Turbervill, 1901.
D/DE 483-86

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2.2.3 Historic maps

Figure 5. Ewenny Demesne, 180720.
This map suggests that the Turbervills included improvements to the River

Ewenny, and possibly to a new water mill, soon after they acquired the property in

1741. The site of the mill is not shown.

The churchyard appears to have the same layout as it has today but the scale of

this map is such that it is unsafe to use it to determine the fine detail of the church and

churchyard. Carter's plan of 1803 (Figure 4) is more reliable.

D/DE 472-486 1796-1882 (2/7A engraving box) Ewenny estate plans, plans of Priory, Ewenny mill,

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83 175
80 81 176
177 173
from 182
179 171 172
51 52 64 78 180 178
50 53 60 66
49 65 77 84
59 69
47 67 70 76 83 170
55 56 160
62 71 75 86 186

57 63 72 73 74 87 293


Detail of Ewenny tithe map September 27 1842

Figure 6. Tithe Map, Ewenny, 26 November 1840 (P/92)

no. name owner tenent use
170 Wyth erw Gwaun y Coed RTT Richard Lewis pasture
171 Deg erw Croft Land - Moory Hay RTT William Young
172 Field RTT Richard Lewis pasture
173 Theol y Mech RTT Richard Lewis pasture
174 Piece - Moory Hay RTT William Young
175 Morfa draw Amow RTT William Young
177 Heol Y Moch RTT RTT pasture
178 Crofft Land Mawl RTT RTT pasture
179 Crofft Land bach RTT RTT pasture
180 Mansion Gardens & Plantation RTT RTT
186 Lawn RTT RTT
187 Church & yard
225 Oxmoor RTT William Young
226 Oxmoor RTT William Young
Table 1. Tithe award field names

RTT = R. T. Turbervill

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2.3 Archaeological Background

2.3.1 Sites and Monuments Record (Figures 2, 7 and 8)




North 38
Tower St. Michael’s Private
C hurch burial
5 North

N orth-west
26 South-east

Gatehouse Ewenny Priory



Figure 7. Plan of Ewenny Priory showing Sites and Monuments entries. Based on
Sheet 40/12 of the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey map.

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00400M r
iv e
n n y Riu m
Roman e en t
fort Ew Av

e R om
or roa n
Ogm Ewenny 0 10 d
r pottery 16m
Ri 00401M

Figure 8. Detail of Ewenny Priory area showing SMR records.

00399M. Medieval SS9099 7756 Base of a small roadside cross with a square socket. It is of
Cross Base late date, probably 15th century. Has now been moved

00400M Ewenny Priory SS1207 7775 Priory Church is still in use for Divine Service.
00401M. Ewenny SS9037 7779 Manufacture of brown earthenware extensively carried out
PRN40797 pottery here at a very early period, it being alluded to in the
writings of the Welsh bards from 3 centuries ago
00402M. medieval chapel SS9215 7738 Site of this chapel could not be traced from the Tithe and
Estate maps. Enquiries were made but the farmer knew of
no remains or associated field names
00413M Bomium SS9045 7815
Roman fort
00419M medieval SS9125 7781
00421M medieval SS91257 7781 Part of headstone with incised crosses. The surviving piece
headstone was probably the rounded head of a rectangular upright
stone at the head or foot of a grave.
00422M. medieval SS9125 7781 Fragment of headstone of sutton stone, with incomplete
headstone ring-cross. The cross of arcs is in low relief, framed by an
incised double ring. 10th to early 12th century
01237M medieval finds SS9194 7670
01284M medieval cross SS9125 7784. Near the E wall of the Priory Church of St. Michael's,
base Ewenny, lies an ancient cross base, probably not in situ
01812M medieval fair. SS9143 7785 A number of finds and broken metalwork may indicate a
fair site
02252M Ewenny Priory SS9120 7775
medieval castle
01016.5w Glanwenny SS9020 7815
Roman road
03238m Ewenny Priory medieval and post-
medieval gardens
Table 2. Sites and Monuments entries

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The historical and archaeological sources will be discussed at the end of the paper along
with the findings from the service trench.

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3.1 As part of a programme of renovations to the church a new electricity supply
trench was dug from the mains supply in the road and into the church through the North
Porch (See Figure 9) The excavation method used was for the ground workers to
excavate a trench nominally 45cm wide x 60cm deep until they came across human
remains, at which point they marked the position with a white plastic plant label, left
that area intact and carried on past the burials, leaving them for archaeologists to record.

3.2 Because the trench ran between the path and the western boundary wall it was
thought that few archaeological finds and/or features would be encountered. When
human remains were revealed, they were initially dealt with by Jerry Samson, the Caroe
and Partners archaeologist who then called in C. & N. Hollinrake to assist.

3.3 When the builders uncovered more burials than could be recorded and removed
in a single day, there was an intention to call in a local, Welsh unit to complete the
project on the understanding that local archaeologists would be more conversant with
the finds and the background of the site. Unfortunately none were available and so C. &
N. Hollinrake completed the archaeological works.

3.4 The trench was cleaned, photographed and planned at a scale of 1:50. Skeletons
were drawn at 1:20 and each one was recorded on a pro-forma skeleton recording form.
Bones were lifted where necessary to accommodate the electricity cable, bagged
individually and marked with their recording numbers using white plastic tags and
indelible ink. These bags were left by the trench for re-deposition once the cable and
pipe had been installed and the trench was being backfilled. Context numbers were
assigned to deposits and features; although some natural features, tree roots, animal
holes and the like were not numbered. A single context recording system was
employed. The trenches were also recorded photographically using colour slides and
black and white prints.
Levels above Ordnance Datum were taken throughout, the Ordnance Survey
benchmark used is situated on the south-west corner of the East Barn behind the North
East gatehouse which has a value of 39'5" (12.01m) a.O.D. Finds were collected using
a total recovery strategy and listed by context. Finds were washed, sorted and marked

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with the site code, their respective context number. Finds which had no secure context
have been marked with the letters U/S to indicate unstratified.

4.1 Trench report

gat e

c la

grave ? 20


r ed

cl a

12 es te
f orm

er l i

ne o


pa th

r ed

1 5 17


N 5
4 3
2 1

2 skeleton
number NORTH

0 10m


Figure 9. Trench location and plan.

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4.1.1 As part of the renovation works, a new electricity cable was laid to the west of

the path which runs from the road to the North Porch of the church21. The possibility

that either important archaeological deposits or skeletons would be found was

considered to be unlikely because the gap between the path and the wall was too narrow

to accommodate burials. In the event, this assumption proved to be unfounded and a

total of 22 skeletons was recorded, along with some archaeological features. Many of

the skeletons projected below the present church path.

4.1.2 The trench did not allow for inspection of the relationships of the western

boundary wall (context 106) with the burials so it is impossible to determine whether

any individual skeleton is earlier than the wall (but see below). This wall is thought to

form part of the monastic defenses. Documents indicate that the monastery was

defended in c.1220 with the implication that this wall dates to that period22.

4.1.3 The natural substrate is a brick red, sandy clay (context 104) with few if any

inclusions. This layer was visible in various locations through the trench, becoming

more pronounced towards the north, and was cut by the burials and a few other features.

The stratigraphy was relatively simple with much of the stratigraphy above the natural

clay having been obscured by grave digging. The stratigraphy is shown in the matrix

drawing, Figure 10.

The ground surface in this area slopes gently from 11.05m O.D. near the North Porch to 10.04m near
the road.
Jerry Sampson, pers. comm.
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101 KERB

turf & 102
upper layers

103 grave earth

?wall C1-4th
stone 105 footing
depth below surface

108 SK9 white SK6
SK20 SK12 C10-12th SK19 SK16 pebbles
SK11 107 SK8 SK7 amphora C13-14th C1-4th
C12-14th SK10 SK14
SK21 SK5 SK3 SK2 C1-4th
SK13 SK4 SK1
SK18 SK15



104 natural red sandy clay level of SK 18 approximate

Figure 10. Contexts arranged in a matrix.

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4.1.4 The skeletons have been arranged according to their depth below the surface and
labeled with their dating evidence to test whether it might be possible to determine the
dates of the burials by their depths. In the event, however, no clear pattern emerged and
no attempt at phasing was undertaken. The shallowness of the burials suggests that the
ground surface has been truncated. The ground surface to the west of the path formerly
reached the height of that to the east but was lowered in the 19th century when the
boundary wall took on a significant lean23.

4.1.5 The trench was too narrow to allow the drawing of the entire section so a
representative section showing the relationship between contexts 105, 107 and skeletons
11 and 12 and may be regarded as representative of the trench as a whole. (See 4.2.6
Before discussing the significance of these features and deposits, the skeletons
will be described.

4.2 The Burials
4.2.1 Twenty-two burials were recorded, all extended, supine and oriented west-east.
Finds recovered from within and around the graves demonstrate activity in the area
from the Romano-British period through to the 14th century. Although the limited
nature of the excavations precludes a confident assessment of the burial date for
individual skeletons it is possible that the burials could range from the Romano/British
through to the medieval period (or later).
Children and adults were represented but no infants or neonates were identified
nor were the skeletons analyzed for gender. Although there were finds, there were no
indications of either grave goods or coffins.
Most of the graves were cut into the natural, reddish clay. Although signs of
other graves could be seen, these were mainly just outside the trench.
It seems unlikely that there are further skeletons within this area at a greater
depth than the base of the trench.
The burials appeared to fall into groups and this will be considered in more
detail below, starting at the south end adjacent to the North Porch and progressing north

Jerry Sampson, pers. comm.
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along the trench. The groupings are best seen as random and are used here for
convenience only: no significance is attached to the groups.

4.2.2 Skeletons 1 to 7


top of wall
SK6 pottery

SK5 skull tibias
SK4 fragments


0 1m
Figure 11. Skeletons 1 to 7.

There is plentiful evidence for activity in this area during the Romano-British
period, especially given the restricted scale of the excavations. Whilst there is
insufficient data to discuss the nature of this activity, the pottery is broadly of the earlier
Roman period and includes various types of building materials. There is sufficient
material from the medieval and modern periods to reinforce the impression presented by
the stratigraphy (see 4.1.3 above) of frequent medieval and modern disturbance to these
deposits. Skeleton 3/ 4 is clearly a medieval (or later) burial. It is possible that more
complete excavation of the other skeletons would produce more finds with a consequent
redefinition of burial dates.
Skeleton 7 was distinguished by white quartz pebbles in the grave fill. This is a
characteristic of Dark Age burials in the west of Britain, a custom possibly originating
in Ireland.24

Holbrook and Thomas, 2005, p. 35-6.
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context {___ _________pottery________ ________} bldg materials miscellaneous
qty fabric & weight century qty type
SK1/2 1 Soft ,smooth, orange, ?R/B 1 slate with drilled 1x flint blade,
slightly micaceous, 1g; hole, 21g broken 3g
1 oxidised, 3g ? Oxford 2 red/orange, grey 2x human bone,
Ware grits, brick/tile 8g & 1g
3 off-white mortar 1x Pb obj. 26g
SK3/4 1 reduced, sandy, dark grey C1-4th 1 tile frag.; 4g 4x human bone
outer, BBW type 4g frags. 5g
2 grey , sandy, oxidised inner C13-14th
browny green glaze over
applied strip; 4g
1 reduced grey, sandy; 3g C12-14th
above 1 large amphora frag. 461g. C1-2nd
orange/buff, 18-31mm
thick, abundant fine quartz
temper, internal rilling,
Dressel 20
SK5/6 1 Rim; pink/orange fabric, C1-4th burnt clay, 11g
pink inclusions,
micaceous; buff surfaces,
?Severn Valley ware; 2 7g
1 hard, thin, fine quartz ?C12-14
temper, reduced grey
brown outer, oxidized pink
SK7 1 hard white mortar 6x quartz pebbles
6x human bone, 6g
below 1 Rim; pink/orange; 16g probably
SK7 occas. quartz temper Severn
slightly micaceous,?Severn Valley ware
Valley ware C1-4th
SK7/8 1 orange coarse fabric, ? 1 small lump buff Cu alloy coin
calcareous; ?pottery lime mortar; 8g 1860 penny
animal tooth, 7g
1sml glass,
U/S 1 Rim/body; Samian form C1-2nd 2 Fe nails
south 36; 56g
near 1 Rim; buff/orange brown C18-19
church glaze; 47g
Table 3. Finds from area of skeletons 1-7.

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4.2.3 Skeletons 8, 9, 14, 15 & 16


top of wall

N shattered
skull & teeth

SK14 skull skull

shattered SK9
SK15 bone
0 1m


top of wall




Figure 12. Skeletons 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 & 17.

context {__ _________pottery________ _________} bldgmaterials miscellaneous
qty fabric & weight century qty type
SK14 1 orange fabric, fine uncertain 3x smooth quartz
limestone temper, 2g pebbles: 9g, 4g,
?modern flowerpot 9g
SK15 1x cortical flint
dark reddish grey;
SK15/ 1 reduced coarseware, pale Probably 1 ?R-B roof tile ?chalk, 8g
16 grey fabric, grit temper, C12-14 reduced lower,
some voids, brown outer orange upper
surface; 5g surfaces, sandy, v.
fine quartz grits;
1 brick/tile frag; 6g fired clay 5g
green stone, 4g
Table 4. Finds from the area of Skeletons 8, 9 & 14 to 17.
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Skeleton 14 retained its milk teeth, indicating that it was a child of between 5
and 8 years old. The remainder of the skeletons in this group appeared to be adults.
Skeleton 17, the only burial in the trench located below a later burial, was also
unusual in having the coccyx located next to the skull. Without seeing the whole of the
skeleton, it is impossible to be sure that the coccyx comes from the same individual, but
if it does, as appears likely, this may be an indication that the corpse had been
transported from some distance.25. Alternatively, this skeleton might have had the skull
detached from the rest of the body prior to death, a phenomenon observed in many
Romano-British burials.26 Skeleton 17 was also accompanied by white pebbles, but
contained no datable pottery.

4.2.4 Skeleton 13


top of wall



0 1m
Figure 13. Skeleton 13.

{___ _________pottery _____________ } bldg materials
context qty fabric & weight century qty type miscellaneous
by 1 rim; Samian; 2g C1-3rd
Table 5. Finds from the area of Skeleton 13.

This skeleton appears to be an isolated individual. For the rest of the trench
there are no closely-spaced groups of burials similar to the first two groups described

Many of the skeletons from medieval Jewbury, the Jewish cemetery in York, displayed similarly
displaced coccyx. This was the result of partial decomposition during transport, since Jewbury served an
area as far away as Lincoln. Don Brothwell, pers. comm.
Philpott, 1991.
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4.2.5 Skeletons 18 & 19

sandy natural
red clay sandy natural
red clay sandy
red clay
0 1m

Figure 14. Skeletons 18 & 19.

No finds were recovered from this area.

4.2.6 Skeletons 10 to 12


top of wall
to wall

N foot

0 1m


top of wall
dark dark
104 107
natural to wall
sandy natural 140cm
red clay sandy
red clay

SK12 SK11

Figure 15. Skeletons 10 to 12.

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grave earth

SK12 brown earth
SK11 red lenses

natural red sandy clay
mortar 104

level 0 1m

Figure 16. Section (west side of trench) showing contexts 105 and 107 and skeletons 11
and 12

{___ _________pottery________ ____} bldg materials miscellaneous
context qty fabric & weight century qty type
by 1 pink, brown glaze; 14g C17-18th 1 ?tile frag, orange,
SK10 shiny brown glaze
upper, C18th
1 rim, as above, 29g C17-19th
SK11 1 rim; earthenware 1 tile, red orange some
?flowerpot, 29g clear glaze rough
base, 25g ?C17th-
107 1 grey, fine quartz temper C1-4th 1x glass, matt
?BBW; ? coarseware 2g ?medieval surfaces; ?R-B
1 coarseware, buff-grey, fine C10-14th
quartz, voids, 4g
Table 6. Finds from the area of Skeletons 10 to 12.

No finds were recovered from context 105, a hard surface crossing the trench
containing white mortar flecks, frequent charcoal and slivers of slate. This appeared to
form the base of a structure of some kind, possibly a boundary wall. This feature was
later than skeletons 11 and 12, making the interpretation of modern finds in the grave of
skeleton 12 something of a problem.
Also problematical is the recovery of modern finds from skeleton 10, one of the
skeletons closest to the boundary wall 106, although there is possibly just enough space
for a small individual to fit into the gap between the trench and the wall.
Context 107 was a hard trampled surface containing many white mortar flecks in
a dark grey-brown, gritty, sandy clay which faded out to the south after about a metre.
The mortar was similar to that of 105 and it might have been a construction surface for
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the structure represented by 105. The scale of the excavation, however, was too small
to allow for confidence in this interpretation.

4.2.7 Skeletons 20 to 22

top of wall
top of wall wall

dark natural
red clay
SK20 109
N 108 109 sandy
red clay

smashed pot

dark path
0 1m SK22
SK20 SK21
Figure 17. Skeletons 20 to 22

context {___ _________pottery_____ ________} bldg materials
qty fabric & weight century qty type miscellaneous

SK 1 coarseware; grey, some fine Prob. C12-
20 quartz temper, orange inner, 14th
black outer surface; 12g
joins sherd from SK21
SK 1 coarseware; grey, limestone prob. C12-
21 & grit temper orange inner, 14th
black outer surfaces over
slight incised band; 2g joins
sherd from SK20
109 1 pale grey, voids, some ?C10-12th Fe nail 6g
quartz, micaceous
1 grey/buff, micaceous, burnt, ?C1-4th
sooty exterior
1 fine quartz & limestone ?C12-13th
temper; 12g oxidized pink
outer, grey inner
1 grey, grey grits; orange C12-14th
inner, sooty outer; 8g
(as Sk 20/21)
4 reduced, gritty; 4g, ?C1-4th
possibly BBW
Table 7. Finds from the area of skeletons 20 to 22.

Stone 108, an unworked white limestone block, was low enough to be left in situ
on the southern edge of context 109, a spread of soft dark soil. A sondage was dug
through the centre of 109 with the result that the natural, reddish clay was encountered
at a depth of about 1m below the surface. A deposit of water-worn pebbles up to 12cm
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in diameter lay at the base of 109. Upon seeing this, the workmen informed us that an
old man had told them that the stream once flowed through the churchyard. It is
possible that this feature did once carry water, although the finds would suggest that the
feature was filled by the 14th century. Perhaps the unnamed old man was relaying an
accurate item of local lore.
Skeletons 20 and 21, a double burial, are cut into 109, probably not long after it
was silted up. Skeleton 21 was the size of an infant or small child.

4.3 Discussion of the burials

4.3.1 The date of the church path
The original assumption that the line of the church path is ancient, perhaps
dating to the building of the Norman church (see 4.1.1 above), should probably be
reviewed in the light of the number of skeletons which lie beneath it. Finds of pottery
of C13-14th date, not to mention the 1860 penny, make this unlikely, if not impossible.
The path is set within a 'mini-holloway' which makes it look old, but dating it is
problematical. The present North Porch dates from the rebuilding works of the late 19th
century but it would appear to have been rebuilt on the site of the medieval north porch
(see Figure3).
Study of the historic maps produces little evidence for any other path through
the churchyard. Figure 4, the earliest map of Ewenny estate, drawn in 1803, shows no
church path at all. The tithe map of 1840 (Figure 6) is equally uninformative on the
matter. The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (Figure 7), drawn before the new porch
and north aisle were built, shows a broad path following the same route as the present
one. This map also shows a kink in the churchyard wall with a trackway leading toward
it from the outside. It is possible that this kink marks the spot where the public track
formerly breached the churchyard boundary, carrying on through the churchyard to the
north porch. The tithe map shows something similar in the same place (Figure 6). A
path following this sort of line would leave enough space by the western boundary wall
to allow space for most of the burials encountered within the service trench. (See Figure
9) A suggested route for such a path has been indicated on this map as a dotted line.
Although this hypothesis is attractive, solving as it does some of the problems of
phasing, it is far from proven. Indeed, this problem may prove difficult to solve.
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Topographical study of the churchyard is fraught with problems following poorly
recorded 19th century landscaping, earth-moving and building operations, so is unlikely
to provide reliable evidence. Excavation may not be fruitful since much of the evidence
of any former path will have been destroyed during grave-digging.

4.3.2 Finds distribution
The easiest way to study the distribution of finds within the trench is via a table
that displays the finds in the order of the arrangements of the skeletons, beginning at the
north porch27

Finds are colour-coded: pink = flint; orange = Romano-British; yellow = white quartz pebbles; blue -
C1-14; violet = post-medieval & modern.
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context {___ _________pottery____________ _} bldg materials miscellaneous
qty fabric & weight century qty type
U/S 1 rim/body; Samian form 36; 56g C1-2nd 2 Fe nails
SK1/2 2 soft, smooth, orange, slightly ?C1-4th 1 slate with drilled hole, 21g 1x chert/flint blade,
micaceous, 25g; broken 3g
1 oxidized, 3g ?Oxford R/B 2 red/orange, brick/tile 2x human bone,
3 off-white mortar 22g 1x Pb obj. 26g
SK3/4 1 reduced, sandy, dark grey outer, C1-4th 1 tile frag.; 4g 4x human bone frags.
BBW type 4g 5g
2 grey , sandy, oxidized inner C13-14th
green glaze over applied strip
1 reduced grey, sandy; 3g C12-14th ?R/B
above 1 large amphora frag. 461g. C1-2nd
SK5 orange/buff, 18-31mm thick,
abundant fine quartz temper
SK5/6 1 rim; pink/orange fabric, pink C1-4th burnt clay, 11g
inclusions, micaceous; buff
surfaces, ?Severn Valley ware;
1 hard, thin, fine quartz temper, C12-14c
reduced grey brown outer,
oxidized pink inner;1g
SK7 1 hard white mortar 6x quartz pebbles 37g
6x human bone, 6g
below 1 rim; pink/orange; 16g occas. C1-4th
SK7 quartz temper slightly
micaceous,?Severn Valley ware
SK7/8 1 orange coarse fabric, calcareous; ? 1 small lump buff lime Cu alloy coin 1860
?pottery mortar; 8g penny
animal tooth, 7g
1sm glass, ?modern
near 1 rim; buff/orange brown glaze; 47g C17-18
SK14 1 orange fabric, fine limestone uncertain 3x smooth quartz
temper, 2g ?modern flowerpot pebbles: 9g, 4g, 9g
SK15 1x cortical flint dark
reddish grey; 3g
SK15/16 1 reduced coarseware, pale grey C11-14 1 ?R-B roof tile reduced ?chalk, 8g
fabric, grit temper, some voids, lower, orange upper
brown outer surface; 5g surfaces, sandy, v. fine
quartz grits; 277g
2 brick/tile frag; modern fired clay 5g
green stone, 4g
bySK13 1 rim; Samian; 1g C1-2nd
by SK10 1 pink, brown glaze; 14g C17-19th 1 ?tile frag, orange, shiny
brown glaze upper, C18th
1 rim, as above, 29g C17-18th
SK11 1 rim; earthenware ?flowerpot, 29g 1 tile, red orange some clear
C glaze rough base,
107 1 grey, fine quartz temper BBW C1-4th 1x glass ?R-B
1 coarseware,-grey quartz, voids C10-14
SK20 1 coarseware; grey, some fine Prob. C12-
quartz temper, orange inner, black 14th
outer surface; 12g
SK21 1 coarseware; grey, limestone & prob. C12-
grit temper orange inner, black 14th
outer surfaces over slight incised
band; 2g joins sherd from SK20
109 1 prob. BBW; 3g C1-4th 1 Fe nail; 5g
1 pale grey, voids, some quartz, C10-14th
1 grey/buff, micaceous, burnt, sooty C12-13
exterior ?1-4th
1 fine quartz & limestone temper; ?C12th-13th
oxidized pink outer, grey inner
1 grey, grey grits; orange inner, C12-14th
sooty outer; 8g(as Sk 20/21)
3 reduced, gritty; prob BBWg ?C1-4th
Table 8. Finds arranged in order from south (outside North Porch) to north.
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Although it is important not to over-interpret finds from such a small trench, a
few aspects of the finds distribution do seem firmly established:
1. Roman-British finds appear to cluster close to the church, the most northerly
found in the vicinity of Skeleton 13.
2. Medieval finds predominate in the northern half of the trench. North of Skeleton
14 medieval finds are more numerous than Roman finds.
3. There are few post-medieval finds, most clustering close to the middle of the
4. The building material appears to be more frequent closer to the church. This is
hardly surprising, which is why it provides a good test for the distribution of the
other classes of finds.
5. The pottery ranges in date from Romano-British to medieval, suggesting that the
site may have continued in use throughout that period.

4.3.3 Other features in the trench
It was beyond the scope of this exercise to fully examine fill 109, interpreted as
a silted-up watercourse largely because of the deposit of water-worn pebbles in its base.
It is interesting to note, however, that Baddeley states: "Water is naturally plentiful at
Ewenny; and on opening the ground south of and outside of the circular north-tower
evidences of a former shallow ditch appeared."28 The most that can be stated in the
present state of knowledge is that that section of a former watercourse lay in a not
dissimilar position to 109 and could conceivably be related to it. The 1807 estate map
(Figure 3) shows that the present course of the river, parallel to the road, was 'lately cut',
suggesting that meanders or bends in the river might also have been channeled away in
earlier periods.
Whatever context 109 may represent, the negative feature it fills appears to have
fallen out of use by the 14th century.
Context 105 appears to be a wall foundation, presumably a boundary wall, since
there are no other similar walls occurring in the trench. Its suggested course is marked
on the trench plan (Figure 9) as a dashed line.

Baddeley, 1913, footnote 1, p. 43.
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5.1 The name of the Ewenny River suggests that its source might have been a holy
well (see para. 2.2.1). It is a tributary of the Ogmore River, an obvious and important
communications and transport channel leading from the Bristol Channel inland to the
Bridgend hinterland. In common with most rivers, the extent to which the Ewenny
River was navigable at various times in the past is difficult to determine in the present
day, given siltation, water extraction and diversion of their natural channels. The
normal pattern is for rivers to carry less water now than in the past (largely due to
extraction of the water for modern use) and this might imply that the Ewenny River was
navigable as far up-river as the Priory and probably significantly further. The fact that
we have a name for the river from the Ravenna Cosmography (see 2.2.1 above) implies
importance in the Roman period.
The Glanwenny Roman road (SMR no 101016.6w; Figures 1 and 1A) crosses
the river at the village of Ewenny a few hundred metres downstream from the Priory at
a location which was probably a ford when the invading Roman legions undertook their
first survey.
The implications are that the Priory is located near the crossing point of two
important route-ways: the Roman road and a river leading to the Bristol Channel and the
seaways leading eastwards into Gloucestershire and westwards into the Atlantic and the
coastal trade routes connecting Western Britain with the Mediterranean.
The 1807 estate map (Figure 3) indicates that the straight river channel was cut
around 1800. It also indicates the former course of the river. The tithe map (Figure 6)
shows the Roman road in the extreme left of the plan and its relation to Ewenny Priory.

5.2 Evidence exists of intensive Roman activity in South Wales and the Bristol
Channel (see Figure 2). There is sufficient Romano-British pottery recovered from the
excavation to be confident that there was significant Roman period activity on the site.
The distribution of the pottery suggests that one focal point of that activity lies in the
vicinity of the Norman church. There is insufficient data to allow for interpretation
regarding the nature of this activity, but the topography suggests some possibilities:

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a. The Roman activity is probably related to the Glanwenny Roman road and its
crossing of the Ewenny River.
b. The Priory site does not appear to be directly dependent upon the road and its
passing traffic, since it is located at some remove from the road. It is, therefore.
unlikely to be an inn or hostel, a ferry port, etc. .
c. Although it might appear that some of the burials are of the Romano-British
period, this cannot be proved given the restricted nature of the archaeological works.
There is enough evidence to be certain of settlement during the Roman period, probably
in the immediate vicinity of the church. The finds, including amphora and building
materials probably indicate a building of some status. High status villas tend to lack
burials, normally disposing of their dead in cemeteries outside the nearest town or along
the major roads. For this reason, dating of the (seemingly) earliest burials is a matter of
more than usual importance and RadioCarbon14 dating of some of the potentially early
skeletons could prove to be a cost-effective way of determining these questions.
d. It is not uncommon to find Romano-British sites near to or below medieval
churches in Somerset and elsewhere29. At Glastonbury Abbey, for instance, enough
material has been recovered to be confident that a high status Roman building lies either
below or immediately to the north of the abbey church (hypocaust fragments, window
glass)30. The setting of Ewenny Priory would be suitable for a villa. There is, however,
no indication of any relationship between the Roman sites and the churches in any of
the Somerset examples. The church may simply have been established within ruins
which were quarried for their building stone and were unusable for other purposes.
Alternatively, there may have been continuity of occupation, or continuity of function or
status, from the Romano/British through to the medieval period.
Ewenny Priory stands above or adjacent to a Roman period site and like many,
or all of the other religious foundations above or adjacent to a Roman building, could
hold within it's precinct evidence relating to the transitional period between the end of
Roman occupation and the inception of the historic period.

5.3 The dates of the earliest burials might be relevant to the problem relating to the
foundation date of the Priory. The Glamorgan County History suggested that the

Wells Cathedral, Glastonbury Abbey, Street parish church.
. Ellis 1982, Excavations at Silver Street Glastonbury, 1978, P, PSANHS Vol.126, pp. 17-32.
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Norman church might have been founded on the site of a British church (see paragraph
2.2.2), commenting on the lack of 'insular Celtic' dedications in the Cardiff area and an
area around Ewenny and St. Brides Major. It is suggested that the Anglo-Norman
church was suspicious of the early Christian/British church and undertook large-scale
re-dedication of earlier churches in order to expunge their memory.31

5.4 Burials of apparent 13th-14th century date extend below the present path,
providing a terminus post quem for the laying of the path (if the few 17th - 19th century
finds are accepted as indicative of small areas of recent disturbance - wall construction,
for instance). A different course to the path, as suggested in 4.1.3 above, would allow
for burial within most of this area in more recent times, but hard evidence for this is not
forthcoming. With only part of each burial excavated there must be a question mark
regarding the date of every burial encountered in this excavation.

5.5 The Sites and Monuments Register, historic maps and written sources testify to a
variety of industrial and commercial sites in the vicinity: the mill on the Ewenny, the
pottery manufacture and the market. These are all situated in the vicinity of the Priory
and probably within its pre-Dissolution estate. They are all worth investigating for
evidence of the industrial and commercial activities of the Priory. If the monastery
proves to have pre-Conquest origins any of them may date from this period.

5.6 If context 105 does represent a wall crossing the churchyard, this may mark the
line of an earlier property boundary

31 Savory, 1984, p. 380.
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6.0 Architectural fragment with sculpture

Shortly before completing this report the authors visited Ewenny, and noticed a
fragment of sculpture that had previously been obscured under protective sheeting.

Photograph 1. Sculptural fragment photographed under different lighting.

This fragment was found by the barn and was described by Baddeley as a
possible broken corbel32. Carter's plan of 1803 identifies the barn as the building to the
east of the North Gate (shown on Figure 4).

Baddeley, 1913, p. 26.
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A further photograph shows the stone from an angle, revealing its overall shape.

Photograph 2. Sculptural fragment from an angle.

The sculpture is in the form of a haut relief on the face of a large squared block
of freestone, suggesting that this is an architectural fragment. The stone itself appears to
be part of a frieze, rather than a corbel and obviously requires further study. The
coarse diagonal tooling finish to the lower face may preclude the stone from being used
as a door lintel.
The carving represents a horse or donkey in profile facing right, carrying a large
head, or tête coupée looking out, face-on. Another animal, possibly a bear, appears to
be biting the horse's tail while lying on its back at a strange angle. Perhaps it is being
dragged along. The outward legs of both animals have been broken off, but the stumps
are still visible, while the biting animal shows no sign of ever having a tail.
The nose of the tête coupée is broken but the lenticular eyes are still well
defined. The head carries curly hair in stylized ringlets, swept back from the face.
Baddeley attributes this sculpture to the Norman period (although the Priory
Church has little sculpture apart from stylized decoration) but this interpretation could
be revised in the light of the recent discovery of Romano-British pottery on the site.

Architect Nick James, pers. comm.
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The iconography is far better suited to a British context, combining as it does the tete
coupee with the horse.
Horses are often portrayed in Celtic art although rarely alone.34 Brightly
coloured horses distinguish the Celtic 'Otherworld'35 Great heroes are frequently
portrayed as having a special, supernatural link with their horses, sometime born at the
same time and/or reared with them and Cu Chulainn is one example of many. The tale
of the birth of Pryderi, son of Rhiannon is worth quoting here, since it is of Welsh
Rhiannon's son was taken from her at birth. On this same night, the chief,
Teyrnon, was guarding a mare whose foals disappear on the night of their birth.
The foal was born and Teyrnon then saw a great clawed arm coming through the
window. He cut off the arm and, on opening the door, found a new-born baby boy
lying on the ground, which he took to his wife. The boy was Pryderi. The foal
was given to the child.36
The horse is usually associated with a warrior god, but there are a few warrior
goddesses, including Riannon, who are also associated with horses.
Heads may also be symbolic of war. The heads of prized enemies were taken,
impaled on spears or fastened to the saddles of the horses and borne home in triumph,
afterward impaled on stakes about the houses and fortresses of the chiefs and in the
temples. They were embalmed in cedar oil and kept in a chest, to be displayed to guests
and strangers as military trophies.37
Heads combined with horses are seen in Britain on the Marlborough and
Aylesford vats. The foremost architectural representations of these motifs are found in
France at the great Iron Age temples at Roquepertuse (C4th BC), situated at the source
of the Seine, and Entremont (C3-2nd BC).
There is, therefore, evidence that this piece of sculpture fits into a British
context. Alternatively, the imagery may refer to Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey,
as suggested by Jeremy Knight (pers. comm.), with the second beast arising from a
misreading of the Bible. Whether a Biblical interpretation can be sustained or not, it is
likely that the image refers to a story which was familiar to the contemporary viewer; a
foundation legend, perhaps.

Ross, p. 408
ibid, p. 411
ibid., p. 410.
ibid., p. 69, 98, quoting. Diodorus Siculus, xiv, 115; Stabo, iv, 4,5; Livy, x, 26
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This type of simple sculptures can prove impossible to date, but whatever the
date of this piece may be, its survival and recovery surely points to the existence of an
earlier building on the site, whether a Romano-British temple, given the Roman pottery,
or a substantial British church.
Charles and Nancy Hollinrake
7th June 2002
Revised 1st June 2017

The service trench upon which this report is based was hand dug by Gary
Paddick, John Esau and Tom Hawkins of Dimbylow Crump. The project manager Gary
Perkins retrieved several pieces of the unstratified pottery and we would like to thank
him and all of the ground workers for all of their help and co-operation during the
watching brief.
The architect Nick James of Caroe and Partners provided much advice, support
and local knowledge. The Sites and Monuments Record was provided by Glamorgan
and Gwent Archaeological Trust and the history of the church was undertaken by Jerry
Sampson of Caroe and Partners, Wells, who initiated the archaeological watching brief
and provided valuable advice. Written sources and historic maps were from the
Glamorgan Records Office in Cardiff and we are grateful to the staff of the Records
Office for their help and advice.


Aston, M., and Burrow, I., 1982, The Archaeology of Somerset, Somerset County
Ellis, P., 1982, 'Excavations at Silver Street Glastonbury, 1978', PSANHS Vol.126, pp.
Baddeley, St. Clair, 1913, 'Ewnney Priory or St. Michael of Ogmore', Archaeologia
Cambrensis, 6th Series, Vol. XIII, Part 1.
Holbrook, N., and Thomas, A., 2005, An Early-medieval Monastic Cemetery at
Llandough, Glamorgan: Excavations in 1994, Medieval Archaeology 49.
Philpott, R. 1991, Burial Practices in Roman Britain: A Survey of Grave Treatment and
Furnishings AD 43-410, BAR Brit. Ser. 219, Oxford.
Rivet, A.L.F., & Smith, Colin, 1979, The Place-Names of Roman Britain, Cambridge.
Ross, Anne, 1992, Pagan Celtic Britain, Studies in Iconography and Tradition,London,.
Savory, H. N., ed., 1984, Glamorgan County History II, Early Glamorgan.
Soil Survey of England and Wales, Sheet 5, South West England, 1983.
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Turbervill, Col. J., 1901, Ewenny Priory, Monastery and Fortress, London.

The following documents relating to Ewenny Priory were found in the
Glamorgan Record Office (listed in chronological order):

D/DE 522 1545 Grant of Ewenny Priory and other lands of the monastery
of St. Peter, Gloucester, to Sir Edward Carne on payment of £727. 6s. 4d.
D/DE 129-131 1634-1797 Deeds of Ewenny house & park, manor of Ewenny,
Ewenny rectory and Ewenny estate in Bettws, Coity, etc.
D/DE 1-14. 1634-1805 Manorial documents and copy documents relating to
Ewenny manor.
D/D Xhl 4 1741 Ewenny Priory Church, southwest view, by Sam &
Nathaniel Buck.
D/DE 472-486 1796-1882 (2/7A engraving box) Ewenny estate plans, plans
of Priory, Ewenny mill, etc.

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