Engage Grant

8 Apr

We have stalled really with getting the work at St Beuno’s done.  We have put in for a grant with Engage Mutual.  The success of our application is based on people voting for us.  Please could you spend a couple of seconds and vote here:  https://www.engagemutual.com/foundation/projects/wirral-north-wales-field-archaeology/

Also, please pass this on to all your friends?





House History in Denbighshire

8 Apr

Do you live in Denbighshire? Have you ever wanted to learn more about the history of your house?

PPD 24 136 Colomendy Cottage n.d. [c.1910] PPD 24 136 Colomendy Cottage, Denbigh n.d. [c.1910] Staff at Denbighshire Archive Service can advise you on how to start looking into the history of your house and find out more about when it was built and who lived there in the past.

Follow this link for more information about how to start!

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St Bueno’s Update

5 Dec

At the moment not a lot is happening in the way of excavation at the well.  The last visit was last week when Martin and I uncovered what could well be a path that probably ran around the edge of the well.  This consisted of stones laid on top of a clay surface.  We can date this to around the 18th century because of the number of clay pipes (broken I hasten to add) and some slipware pottery.  Beneath the clay layer were some more bits of clay pipe, so we are pretty certain that the clay is not natural.  The same sort of pattern is in Trench I, although because of the very wet conditions no work has been done on Trench I.

As the trees have lost their leaves, and all the vegetation has died back, it has been possible to see a lot more features relating to the site.  In order for us to investigate these features properly I think it will be necessary to do a lot more clearance around the well.  Also, it is important to be able to put the well into proper context with St. Winifride’s and all the surrounding area.  To do this properly all the trees surrounding the well to the east, and south should be cleared.  This would provide a clear view down the hill to St. Winifride’s and across the River Dee.  To the south there are a lot of features and also the entire shape of the hillside needs looking at.  I have tried to contact Hywel of the BTCV to no avail, our secretary Julie has also tried.  She is now going to contact the BTCV directly.  Failing that, we could get permission from Transitions Towns Holywell to see if the Army Cadets could possibly help us.  Any more ideas?

We also have a bit of a problem with access at the moment.  The school has changed the locks on the school gates. (Nothing to do with the loss of the key I promise), and at the moment they only have keys for the staff.  The secretary has told me that she will do her best to get one for us, but at the moment we can only go during the week.  Unless anyone wants to brave the steps with the gear.

I am going to contact CWPT to see if they have access to LIDAR.  I think that this would be very useful to us to get a clearer picture of the well area.  They may be able to lend us the facilities to use it.In the meantime, we will attempt to go to the site every Thursday.  If another day would be more convenient for people, just let me know.

Please try to come to Wetherspoons on the 16th, we can all be sociable together.

Also, if you would like to come to Stonehenge in April, please book your room at the Travelodge, Amesbury.  The coach is booked and the more we can fill it, the cheaper it will be.


Wednesday 25th July

17 Jul

Also, it is the Wrexham Science Festival 19th – 27th July. As part of this Felicity is giving a talk – “From the Flintstones to the modern age”.
Around 4,000 years ago the life of the ancient peoples of Britain was transformed with the arrival of the Bronze Age. Find out what life was really like during the Stone Age with this hands-on workshop.
Learn about the use of stone, with demonstrations from our very own flintknapper, and discover how the arrival of the new technology of metal working forever changed the way our ancestors lived.
To book FREE tickets for this event you will need to call Box Office 01978 293293

Saturday 21st July

17 Jul

This coming fortnight is the “Festival of Archaeology”. There is a website which lists what is on here: http://festival.britarch.ac.uk/

We are hoping to have a visit to the most local (to us) place in Caerwys, the Hen Caerwys Excavation. the details for this are:
Hen Caerwys excavation
County: Flintshire
Sat 21, Sun 22 & Sat 28 July; 10.00-16.00
A chance to take a tour around the excavation of a medieval site, learn about the monument & surrounding woodland, & talk to the archaeologists. …
Come and visit Cadw and the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust on a working archaeological excavation at the deserted medieval village of Hen Caerwys and talk to the archaeologists about their work. Open days and guided tours of the monument and woodlands will take place on the 21st, 22nd and 28th, 10am to 4pm. This is a woodland site so sturdy footwear advised. Directions and parking arrangements to be posted soon. Free Event
Location: Hen Caerwys. Please contact Will Davies for directions.
Name: Will Davies
Tel: 01443 336000

If you fancy going along on Saturday morning we may well see you there!


11 Jul

Just tolet everyone know, we shall be digging this weekend.  We shall be meeting at about 10.30am in the school car park.   Hope to see lots of you there!

Second installment

7 Jul



The next instalment from St. Bueno’s Well.

What an adventure we had finding it!  It felt as though we were trying to find lost Aztec temples in the rainforests of Central America at times fighting our way through the undergrowth.  We did find some interesting ruins but then we heard a hail from afar that the well was discovered.  My first reaction when we first beheld it was “oh gosh what have we let ourselves in for”, but after a couple of hours of hacking and ripping this reaction was modified to “perhaps”. Its fair to say that there is a lot of work to be done.  However, we have been promised the help of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, so hopefully they will be able to help with the clearance work. 

Looking at the way the bushes have grown around the Well, I believe that they have been planted deliberately probably about 50 or so years ago which would fit with the departure of the Jesuit mission at St. Winifride’s Well.  Possibly therefore the Well was intentionally closed to pilgrims at this time.

There are several safety factors which need consideration when excavating such a site as this. We need ropes and planks – floorboards would be good if anyone has any lying about, also extreme care needs to be taken as the sides of the Well are quite steep and footing is uncertain. So exciting!!!!

There is a variety of pyramidal orchid growing in profusion around the site. These need digging up and moving out of the way, also I think we may have a family of badgers living in the vicinity of the ruins we discovered, so we need to find information on the life style of badgers as we don’t want to disturb them any more than is needful.

Attached are a couple of photos of the Well.

If you would want to come and visit and/or work with us directions are:

From the car park of St Winifride’s Roman Catholic Primary School.  Go in through the gates and across the playing fields to the left hand corner.  There is an open corner of the surrounding fence.  Follow the cleared path right, through the trees and over a little stony stream bed (dry).  The path is beaten through the grass and you should hear us.  If not shout and someone will come and guide you.


21 Jun


At last, something to report!
I visited the headmistress, Mrs Jones Evans at St. Winifride’s school yesterday.  She is very happy for the work to go ahead, and has given us permission to access the site through the school playing fields.  She is going to have a key cut to open the school gates, and has also given permission for us to move the wooden fencing surrounding the playing fields so we can easily access the site.  She is even looking into the possibility of using a shed to store our less precious equipment! So all good.  If we want to access the site during school hours, we must report to reception and sign in.  
The area surrounding the well and all the vicinity is very overgrown.  Therefore, there will be a lot of clearance work to be done before we can begin any archaeological excavation there. This will be difficult work, and also needs to be done carefully.  Inevitably, the area we want to investigate will grow – the job will get bigger as we clear the undergrowth, but fortunately there is no time scale involved in this, so no rush.  Providing the weather is ok there is no reason why we can’t work throughout the year, in fact with a site like this one, less vegetation the better.  Another advantage with starting a bit later is that any birds nesting in the woodland will have fledged.  
Background information on St. Bueno is rather scarce.  Apart from the legend there is little in the way of hard facts regarding the well.  During the early middle ages St. Bueno and St. Winifride were two of the primary saints of Britain and their origin is Anglo Saxon.  An account of pilgrims visiting the wells in the 14th century runs like this:  Pilgrims were met on the road by monks from Basingwerk.  They were escorted to St. Bueno’s well where they were accommodated in a guest house overnight.  In the morning they were taken to St. Bueno’s well for prayers, and then mass in the adjacent chapel.  After this, they were taken to bathe in St. Winifride’s well which lay below that of St. Bueno.  The water at St. Bueno’s well was described as “gushing forth in a roaring torrent”. It certainly isn’t like that now.  The last pilgrims to visit St. Bueno’s well was in the 1960’s, when the Jesuit mission in Holywell was closed down.  Since then, the well site has become very overgrown and is almost inaccessible from the car park at St. Winifride’s,
Holy wells are often very ancient places of worship and sanctity to pre Christian people and were dedicated to local deities.  They were often taken over by the Christian missionaries who attached Christian connections to them.  Therefore, the chance to excavate the site of a holy well is very exciting and a wonderful opportunity to learn about the origins of an extremely important site of pilgrimage for a very long time.
So, we need to buy tools and finalise insurance cover and obtain the gate keys from Mrs. Jones Evans.  I think we will be ready to begin work on the first weekend of July – Sunday the 1st.  If we could meet in the car park of St. Winifride’s school for about 10.30 to 11 we can begin the hard work of clearance.  Exciting!!!
Of course, if anyone can’t make it on that day it doesn’t matter.  Work will be continuing for a long while I think, so volunteers are welcome any time.  If people are available then work can also be done during the week.  Please don’t forget things like strong shoes and layers of clothing and things like hygienic wipes, there are no washing facilities on the site.

Boston Lodge – 28th April

15 Mar

Boston Lodge is arranged for 28th April.  We shall be meeting there for 11am but I will email those interested with exactly where to meet.   If you want to come, please email me.   julie.findabook@gmail.com   Thanks.  This is a real treat!!!!

Boston Lodge

15 Feb

We are arranging a trip to Boston Lodge to see the Ffestiniog railway restoration shed.  It should be an really good visit for anyone interested in industrial archaeology and of course trains!  If you are interested let me know. We are looking at early May or late April for the visit.