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Monday 10 June 2019

Iron Age village

Wales: Whilst in Wales, we had a most interesting tour of an Iron Age village, at Castell Henllys, which has been excavated and studied for the past twenty years by archaeologists from York University. They have reconstructed several roundhouses on the actual foundations of a hill fort, belonging to the Demetae tribe, dated to between 500 and 100 BC. Their work has enabled a greater understanding of the Iron Age period, as well as providing training for archaeology students and a wonderful visitor attraction. Luckily, we visited when it was very quiet and had a personally guided tour, which was really fascinating.

The roundhouses are built of wattle and daub on a wooden framework, with reed thatched roofs. The granary (the smaller hut in the photo above), where food was stored, is built on stilts off the ground to mitigate against damp and vermin. The settlement was protected by a complex of earthworks and ditches, including a 'cheveaux de frise' - a stony ditch (right) designed to protect against horses and chariots.

Heat, light and cooking were provided from a central fire within the roundhouse, whose smoke was drawn out through the thatch.

The roundhouses were home to extended families and some have private sleeping quarters separated by woollen curtains. It's estimated that the village could have housed over 100 people, led by a wealthy and influential chieftain. The people were very resourceful and skilled: coppicing woodland, growing crops and keeping livestock;  spinning, dyeing and weaving cloth; turning wood; weaving baskets; grinding grain to make bread and generally living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Some would have been warriors and hunters, protecting the settlement from wild animals and human enemies.

The hill fort seems to have been abandoned during the 1st century BC, possibly due to the Roman invasion.


  1. Fascinating. There are similar re-constructions near here which have been on my list of places to visit for ages. I must make the effort some day!

  2. How thrilling to see how our ancestors (waaaay back) must have lived. I just imagine the kids wandering around and wives working around the fire! Not sure of that wooden bench though...it looks much more modern!

  3. Fascinating is the right word!

  4. This would be the sort of place I would enjoy visiting. Terrific shots!

  5. Wow what a great way to learn about history.