Got a txt. Txt said:
'RKologists at chrch l'king 4 prince trelystan. RU interested?'
When I'd deciphered the message, the answer was a definite 'yes'. My loyal readers should know by now that I'm always on the q.v. for lumps and bumps in the landscape and that my boots kick every mole hill I come across in the hope of finding something turned up from below ground. Anything. Gold preferably - but I'd settle for iron, bronze, flint tools, nails, ring pulls, potsherds, tiles.....best I've done to date are remnants of clay pipes. Sigh. Could be worse I suppose - could be the scrumpled foil from fag packets.
Anyway, off I scarpered to our little church which stands alone on the edge of Badnage Wood. St Mary's occupies an ancient site - thus much is known and documented; the recorded history of the church goes back to the 11th century but the first use of the site is thought to be even earlier. Some medieval timber remains but the whole has been largely 'restored' by well meaning Victorian folk. This link to CPAT gives a good over view of what is has been established to date. Somewhere in this place is thought to be the burial place of Elystan Glodrydd, traditionally a founder of one the 5 royal tribes of Wales who died in one of the skirmishes which took place at this end of the Long Mountain about a thousand years ago. The name Tref Elistan - Trelystan reminds us of the connection.
Perhaps if I'd drawn breath before hopping in the car a few alarm bells might have started ringing. 'Prince Trelystan'? Archaeology, in a church on a Sunday? Hmm.
At the church our archaeologists turn out to be 3 men, sniffing and stamping their feet in the cold interior. They have dousing rods and the satisfied expression of men whose work here is done. The resting place of Prince Trelystan has been found and the extent of his injuries which may have caused his death established. 'Have you dug him up?' I asked in innocence - because the description of the body's injuries were so graphic. But no - the invisible world which biolocation reveals tells all - death by the sword, a broken leg bone......all without the lifting of a single stone.
My eyes are fairly poppin'. The floor is of ancient slate slabs (we had similar in our hovel) but those slabs differ in age - these dowsers can tell that some have been cut with iron tools and some with bronze - all to do with magnetic fields apparently detected by the minute - nay, invisible - traces of the metals left along the dressed edges. 5 other interments have been found around the perimeter of the church - all dating from before the medieval building was erected. An earlier building was then on the site - it would have been timber, wattle and daub and thatched. Dust from the straw thatch falls to the ground on either side of the supporting beams leaving a negative image - a ghostly presence on the now long-hidden medieval floor. The dowser - sorry, biolocator - holds a wisp of straw and strides forth, holding an unsophisticated metal rod in either hand, along the aisle of the present-day church. At regular intervals his rods cross indicating the position of a long gone beam given away by traces of dust beneath the modern floor.
'Can I have a go? Please, please???' I squeaked. I must try this.
Ooo-eeeer. It did it for me too as I walked tentatively, wisp of straw and bent coat hangers in hand, up the aisle. The rods crossed as I crossed the points where the experts had determined the beams to be. I didn't make them, they just swung into place. The Glam. Ass, who had come along for the ride, said my face was a picture.
We talk about things in the fields outside - and here, while I get a demonstration of the dowser's ability to detect bronze its explanation is not entirely convincing.
There is much talk of druids and henges, tunnels, processional ways and ceremony - all on the Church Field which rolls eastward down towards the place we now call home........at which point the Glam Ass says he will walk back over the fields and collect a few mushrooms. I think it all got a bit New-Age for him. For me too as well I think.
It is an ancient place, an old landscape which has been witness to occupation and turmoil for over two millennia at least and we can only speculate about what happened here before recorded time. What was it really like? I spend much time with wild imaginings and yet when presented with some tantalizing evidence still want tangible proof. Good old fashioned digging would suit me well.
In the meantime I'm off to rummage in the back of the wardrobe for a couple of those old fashioned metal clothes hangers which will may ideal impromptu dowsing rods. I've got 7.5 acres to criss-cross in search of something. I may be some time.