Llyn Cerrig Bach is a small lake in the north-west of the island of Anglesey, Wales. Its main claim to fame is the large hoard of Iron Age materials discovered there in 1942, apparently placed in the lake as votive offerings. These finds are considered to be one of the most important collections of La Tène metalwork discovered in the British Isles.
The discovery was made when ground was being cleared for an R.A.F. base at Valley. This involved spreading peat over the sandy ground, and the items were discovered during the extraction of peat from the Cors yr Ynys bog on the southern margin of Llyn Cerrig Bach. The first object to be found was an iron gang chain, used for slaves. This was caught up in the teeth of a harrow and was not at first identified as being ancient. It was attached to a tractor and used to pull lorries out of the mud. Although around 2,000 years old, the chain apparently performed this function without problems.
Once the chain had been identified, a search of the area produced a large number of other objects, mainly of iron but some of bronze or copper alloy. A total of 181 artefacts are known to have been recovered. They included swords and spearheads, shields, chariots and chariot fittings and harness, another slave chain and various iron tools. There were also some plain bars of iron, which may have been used as currency. The slave chain was made with five hinged neck-rings to hold five captives.
Many of these items had been deliberately broken and are thought to have been placed in the lake as votive offerings. Some of the items appear to have been of local manufacture, a few were manufactured in Ireland, but a great many originate from southern England, suggesting that the fame of Llyn Cerrig Bach as a holy site may have spread well beyond the immediate area. However it is also possible that this was plunder captured in warfare by the local tribes. The items date from the second century BC to around the period of the Roman invasion.
When Roman forces under Caius Suetonius Paulinus captured the island of Anglesey in 60 or 61 AD it was said to be an important centre for the Druids. Some of the offerings may well have been made in response to the threat from the Romans. No direct Roman influence can be seen on any of the objects found. Most of the items found at Llyn Cerrig Bach can be seen in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, which holds all but four of the objects discovered.
- Cyril Fox (1945) A find of the early Iron Age from Llyn Cerrig Bach, Anglesey: interim report (National Museum of Wales)
- Frances Lynch (1970) Prehistoric Anglesey: the archaeology of the island to the Roman conquest (Anglesey Antiquarian Society)cy:Llyn Cerrig Bach