The settlement is situated on a beautiful site on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains. It’s not Salisbury Plain – the evidence that our ancestors trod this hill in the Neolithic is not tangible – but they have left their footprints all around us. There are standing stones in the Sychnant valley not far away – or high up above the Elan valley to the south west. There is the great Walton Basin ritual site to the south, and beyond that the long barrows of Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire. Ritual sites near Welshpool to the East include a woodhenge. And far away to the north lie the Neolithic longhouses and the tombs of Angelsey.
The footprint of our buildings are based on the evidence from very sparse excavations from the Neolithic across the country. The rest is left to our imaginations. What are the raw materials that we have around us? What would the vegetation have been like 5,000 years ago – and the climate? How could we put this together with stone tools? What tools do we have from this period.
We started in the woods, planting trees, creating coppice, managing our oaks to guarantee a perpetual source of materials for the site in years to come. We then harvested and prepared materials for building the first small houses.
Meanwhile we have been working with some ancient breeds of sheep to look at their behaviour in comparison to modern breeds and the processes of domestication. There will be a lot of stone age fencing to build from coppiced wood.
And we have been experimenting with trial crops of emmer wheat and flax in preparation for planting on the site. This year we will be building the first gardens around the houses, with culinary and medicinal plants that our ancestors would have known.
In the course of our reconstructions we will be using many ancient crafts – many already explored at Old Chapel Farm.
This year’s project we hope – the building of a Neolithic tannery!