“Back in the village, again in the village, I’m back in the village, again!”
So said Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson in the chorus of the rocktastic track ‘Back in the Village’, one of many metal classics on their masterly 1984 ‘Powerslave’ album and the second Maiden track to be replete with allusions to the hit 1960s television series The Prisoner. This happens to be one of my very favourite Iron Maiden tracks, but it also happens to describe what I did today.
Because it is by no small coincidence, almost 29 years to the decade after the release of this superb moshing track, I did just as Bruce Dickinson probably would have done were he a medieval archaeologist in the north-east Wales area. Yes, a week after my last visit, I was indeed back in the village again! Not Portmeirion where The Prisoner series was filmed. Oh no. I am referring to Hen Caerwys, subject of my blog last week.
A superb woodland landscape in Flintshire, just off the A55, preserves the remains of a Welsh deserted medieval village (DMV), currently the focus of a community excavation run through a collaboration between CPAT and Cadw.
We didn’t see Iron Maiden and there wasn’t even a Patrick McGoohan impersonator on site. However, we did get to meet the splendid Dr Bob Silvester of CPAT and Cadw’s community archaeologist Caroline Pudney and see the state-of-play with the dig just before it closes tomorrow following their open day. I also got to say hi to many familiar faces: volunteers from last year’s excavations at the Pillar of Eliseg.
After two hard weeks of work, the dig has produced few finds (that’s Wales for you) but some exciting structures. We got to see the two houses they have explored, as well as seeing the likely expectation on a sequence of intersecting field boundaries turned on its head. The dig is down onto floor levels within the houses and they even have possible post-holes! Check out their dig diary for all the latest info!
We also explored the woods and found a ‘ruin’ of a digger, full of treacherous controls and jagged metal. To some, a potential site of contemporary archaeological investigation to pin-point the origins of every nut and bolt. To us, it was Hen Caerwys’ very own iron maiden!