Living buildings: experimental reconstructions at the Celtic Village, St Fagans National History Museum

Staff: Nia Williams, Ken Brassil, Gerallt Nash and Adam Gwilt [with Dr Rachel Pope, University of Liverpool, and Dafydd Wiliam]
The Celtic Village reconstruction at St Fagans National History Museum
The Celtic Village reconstruction at St Fagans National History Museum

The 'Celtic Village' reconstruction at St Fagans was built by the late Dr Peter Reynolds, the leading experimental archaeologist and director of the Butser Iron Age experimental farm, in 1992. Since then, the venue has been very popular with visitors, with an active programme of schools visits led by a dedicated interpreter. In recent years, buildings and structures have increasingly required repair and a programme of phased renewal on the site has been initiated. The Moel-y-Gaer House has an increasingly unstable roof structure: on health and safety and public access grounds, it has a remaining life-span of only two to three years.

Reflecting the desire to be a leading experimental laboratory for Iron Age building reconstructions and associated activities in Britain, a collaborative research project is currently being planned. The aims of this project would be to undertake the controlled dismantling and investigation of the 15 year old Moel-y-Gaer roundhouse. Findings would inform experimental building techniques and changing interpretations of the archaeological evidence. Second, this cleared space offers the chance to reconstruct a new building type, based upon an alternative kind of roundhouse plan, as archaeologically observed. Finally, this research project would seek to maximise knowledge transfer, through a series of engagements involving wide public audiences.