St David link to 6th Century Pembrokeshire burial site

Image source, Dyfed Archaeological Trust
Image caption,
One of the skeletons found at the site in May, which dates to the medieval period

Skeletons uncovered at a Pembrokeshire burial site may be the remains of contemporaries of the Patron Saint of Wales, archaeologists believe.

The discovery was made during the third and final excavation at St Patrick's Chapel at Whitesands Bay, St Davids.

It found Christian burial sites dating from the early-6th Century when St David was a bishop.

This means a medieval plot found during a previous dig there was not the earliest use of the site.

Phil Bennett, cultural heritage manager for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, which supported the dig, said: "Without doubt some of the people buried in St Patrick's Chapel would have been contemporaries of St David - they might even have known him.

"They were not necessarily compatriots though. Research by the University of Sheffield on skeletons from similar sites in Pembrokeshire revealed that some of the people buried in them were not local but came from Ireland and continental Europe.

"Initial results from St Patrick's Chapel suggest a similar pattern, making Whitesands Bay rather cosmopolitan."

Image source, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Image caption,
An infant's grave dating back to the 6th Century
Image source, PCNPA
Image caption,
The excavation has been carried out at Whitesands Bay

The excavation was led by Dyfed Archaeological Trust and was carried out to avoid archaeology being lost to the sea, after winter storms in 2014 exposed graves.

Since the first dig, the remains of almost 100 skeletons have been excavated.

It was funded by Cadw, the Nineveh Charitable Trust and the University of Sheffield.

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