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Archenfield Archaeology’s team of experienced archaeologists, researchers and illustrators provide a flexible service to meet the requirements of a wide, varied and expanding client base.

Team Leaders
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 Huw Sherlock
 Dan Lewis
 Jenny Gwynne
 Alvaro Mora-Ottomano - 'Gamba'
 Graham Arnold
 P J Pikes
 
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Why Archenfield?

Archenfield is an area in south-west Herefordshire - the parish of Kings Caple is the only part of Archenfield east of the Wye. To the west of Archenfield is the valley of the River Dore - the 'Golden Valley' - while the northern border lies on the Worm Brook. Archenfield is the English term for the land that the Welsh called Ergyng or Ercic.

It is the enigma of Archenfield - this intriguing border land that for centuries was not quite England and not quite Wales - which gives it such fascination for archaeologists and historians.

Ergyng takes it name from Ariconium, the Romano-British industrial settlement in Weston-under-Penyard parish, near Ross-on-Wye. Ariconium is east of the Wye and is not within either modern or Domesday Archenfield, and the original Ergyng was presumably much larger than its descendent. The growth of the power of the Germanic English made it no longer viable as an independent kingdom and a dynastic marriage merged it with Gwent.

Gwent was the British kingdom based in an area approximating to modern day Monmouthshire and like Ergyng, took its name from a Roman place-name - Venta - Caerwent. In the 8th century it would be the Kings of Gwent - Morgan, his son Ithel ap Morgan and his sons, Ffernfael, Rhodri, Rhys and Meurig, who would defend Ergyng against the power of Mercia, at that time moving into the central Wye Valley.

By the beginning of the 9th century the Mercians had gained control over this area and a Mercian bishop sat in his cathedral at Hereford. During the rest of the century Mercia moved its frontier southward to the banks of the Dore, the Worm and a stream then known as the Taratur, annexing northern Ergyng. The sites of old British churches - Mafurn, Lann Guorboe, Lann Iunabui, Lann Deui, Mochros, Lann Ebrdil and Bolgros fell to Mercia and the British became foreigners - 'Welsh' in English - in what had been their own land.

The rump of Ergyng - Arcenefelde - is clearly identified in the Domesday Book. The men of Archenfield were exempt from all services to the crown with one exception - they were to lead the army on campaigns into Wales and form the rear-guard on its return. The exemption from all other services is mentioned again in 1250 and 1326 - 'The Frenchmen and Welshmen of Urchenesfeld hold their tenements in chief of our lord the King by socage, rendering 19 pounds 7 ahillings and 6 pence. And they ought to find 49 foot-soldiers for our lord the King in Wales for 15 days at their own cost.'

Many of the rights and customs of the people of Archenfield were maintained until comparatively recently. Men born in Archenfield had the right to take salmon from the River Wye until 1911.

In Kings Caple, the only part of Archenfield east of the Wye, Domesday lists the inhabitants as one Frenchman and five Welshmen. Six local men paid the dues which had been owed at this time, and before, for centuries. Payment was still being made by one of these 'King's Men of Archenfield' in the 1960s.

Kilpeck Church Front Door



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