On Thursday of last week I presented an evening lecture to Holt Local History Society in the Holt Community Centre. I presented again about the Project Eliseg fieldwork, more about which can be found on our website. Attended by around 50-60 members, around half of the full membership of the society, I met a receptive and inquiring audience with many excellent questions. They seemed to enjoy themselves.
Holt is a fabulous historic village located on the Welsh bank of River Dee opposite the equally historic English village of Farndon. The Roman station at Holt serving the legionary fortress at Chester is well known through early twentieth-century excavations. As well as a beautiful medieval church, there is the medieval bridge between Holt and Farndon and the medieval market cross.
The polygonal form and extensive moat made Holt Castle an impregnable fortress despite its low-lying situation. The remains today are quiet humble, but the site is fascinating. The castle is currently subject to ongoing archaeological investigations led by Wrexham Museum.
As well as having a fascinating medieval history as a late thirteenth and early fourteenth-century planned settlement, the crossing of the Dee was heavily contested during the English Civil War and the castle held out longest for the Royalist cause than any other besieged during that conflict.
The HLHS have recently produced a richly illustrated booklet outlining their research activities, including archaeological survey and support for excavations at Holt Castle. Entitled Holt’s Hidden History, it is well worth getting a copy. Click here to order. Given their active involvement in research and their use of archaeological methods, I was proud and honoured to be able to speak to such a hard-working and vibrant local history society.