Saturday, 17 May 2008

Past History Tour

Having been on a blitz to convert all of our old negatives to digital format, I have come across an interesting set of pictures. In 1985, Rosie and I went on an historical tour. In the same week we visited a number of sites both alone and with friends.
Grimes Graves is an ancient flint mine. You can go down one of the pits and explore the working conditions of the time. There is also a good visitors centre with a well qualified warden to answer questions and show examples of tools made on site. The whole area is spread out in the Thetford Forest in Norfolk, where hundreds of pits were dug to extract quality flint nodules for the manufacture of hand axes and other tools.

Cockley Cley boasts a reproduction Iceni village. It is a very atmospheric site, though a little static, giving a good idea of how the Ancient Britons would have lived. The site is accessed by a bridge and there is a stockade and a number of building, including this round house made of timber and rushes. A central fire hearth would have heated the building, the smoke permeating through the roof, keeping the thatch clean and free of bugs.
West Stowe is a Research village built in the Anglo Saxon style, with rectangular huts. Some are built over pits with raised floors which give insulation from the cold ground in winter. The site has re-enactments in full Anglo Saxon costume which involve events from everyday life, use of tools and weapons and the occasional skirmish. This was an extremely active and engaging visit.

Castell Henllys was a later visit. This site in Pembrokeshire is an Iron Age fortified village. It is also the site of an on-going archaeological investigation and our tour guides was an archaeologist from the site. One of the key features is the experiential side of archaeology - seeing what it is like to sit in a round house with a fire burning and food cooking - finding the relationship between people and livestock. The reconstruction is based exclusively on archaeological evidence.

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