Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

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A lot of progress has been made since my last blog post. The thatching has been completed and the final stages of landscaping are underway. An earthen bank has been built around the two roundhouses, replicating the formidable defences of the original site at Bryn Eryr Farm in Anglesey. A turf-roofed shelter has been built behind the houses, which is to be used as an outdoor workshop as well as an additional educational facility. Its walls are of clom (a mixture of clay, subsoil and aggregate) just like the roundhouses, but its turf roof represents another roofing material arguably as old as thatching itself. A cobbled surface has been created outside the front of the roundhouses, again, reminiscent of the original site.

Recently, my work has focussed on furnishing the interior of the houses. The larger of the two houses will remain fairly empty (other than a hearth and a wooden bench that circumnavigates its inner perimeter) so that it can be used as a classroom and demonstration area. The smaller house has been dressed to display Iron Age life. Within are some of the furnishings expected of any Iron Age house: a hearth for warmth, a bed for sleeping, a loom for weaving clothing and blankets – along with wooden chests to store them in, and a cauldron for cooking food. Nearly all of the items on display are based on period examples that have managed to survive 2000 years of time. For instance, the cauldron is a replica of a well-preserved copper and iron cooking pot from Llyn Cerrig Bach – only 25km away from the Bryn Eryr site. The iron fire-dogs are simplified replicas of the Capel Garmon fire-dog which was discovered not far away in Denbighshire. The wooden bowls are replicas of those found at the Breiddin hillfort in Montgomeryshire, and the quern stones (for grinding corn into flour) are replicas of ones found within the Bryn Eryr roundhouses themselves. We have a full wood-working tool-kit based on examples from hillforts such as Tre’r Ceiri and Castell Henllys. Even the blankets on the bed have been faithfully copied from surviving scraps of textile.

Now that the house has been faithfully dressed with period furnishings, we can use the space to demonstrate what life was like within a roundhouse. Furthermore, with the aid of craftspeople, re-enactors and volunteers, we can contribute to a deeper understanding of life in the Iron Age, and help turn this house into a home.

Winter in the 'Celtic Village' is an opportunity for families to watch preperation for the winter.

Come and try your hand at weaving wicker and reed.

4th and 5th of Dec, 12:00 to 13:00 and 14:00 to 15:30

A big thanks to the pupils of Ysgol Rhos Helyg, Rhosesmor, Flintshire and Ysgol y Berllan Deg, Cardiff for celebrating the opening of the new Moel y Gaer with us yesterday. We were all inspired by Dewi Pws Morris, Children's Poet Laureate. He worked with us in creating a performance and a poem. I'm going to carve the words of the poem on a wooden slab over the next weeks and it will be on display next to Moel y Gaer for all to see. You can read the poem which talks about home, memory, invention and a sense of continuity between past and present

Ti yw cartref y Celtiaid

Yn llawn o atgofion henfyd

Pobol cryf a dyfeisgar ein gorffennol

A ni? Dani yma o hyd

Over the past weeks I've been busy learning new skills. Paul Atkin spent a few days at the Village and showed me how to create my own wooden bowls. He also built a lathe. With the help of our blacksmith and leather worker we hope to start making our own bowls! Helen Campbell has also been over to teach me basket weaving skills. Come and join me over the next months as we prepare for winter.

Find out how we think people in the Iron Age stored plants and food for the winter
8-10 Oct 11.00 - 13.00 & 14.00 - 16.00
 
Watch me prepare for the winter and come and try your hand at weaving wicker and reed
4-5 Dec 12.00-13.00 & 14.00 - 15.30
 

Who is smiling on the newest roundhouse in Wales, today? Dafydd and his construction team step back after months of work to celebrate at our mini and informal opening of the latest Moel y Gaer roundhouse. They are congratulated. I've formulated a ritual for the opening. Thanks for joining us at our special event, we all hope you enjoyed following the history of the roundhouse.