some thumbnails of my illustrations

some thumbnails of my illustrations
Please click on the links below to view my portfolio ........ Images copyright of Carrie Osborne

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Castell Henllys and a journey into the Iron Age...

I would love to share with you a place I love so much, and try to visit whenever I'm in Wales... It is a place where you can really feel the weave of past and present as a continuous thread, and where the people of the past seem only a veil of shadow away. It is so easy here to imagine their voices, dim laughter through the woodsmoke, the daily rhythms of shared toil and community...

Castell Henllys near Cardigan in Wales is an Iron Age Hillfort, where some of the roundhouses have been rebuilt on their original foundations and ongoing living archaeological work brings back the past. They keep native sheep and boar and have built a medicinal herb garden... The people who tend this place for visitors always seem such gentle folk with a genuine love for the place, dressed in iron-age garb and showing the crafts and skills that were used in daily life here...
Every time I am here I wish I could stay!

I will show you some things along the wooded paths that wind around the hillfort. Don't be alarmed if my children change size in some of the pictures! I have taken the best pictures from the last three visits!
The first thing you see as you arrive is this magnificent totem pole...

Some hidden carvings emerge from the green...

This year someone had begun making a coracle by the riverside...

And last year a Wicker Man awaited fire on the hilltop...

And if you know the hidden path, you will find a Shrine where a natural spring emerges from the hillside beneath the fort. There are all sorts of offerings and trophys of war... It feels very real!

Here is the Blacksmith's house...

The utterly impressive Chieftain's house with its high roof where swallows nest and flit in and out of the low doorway... If the Chieftain's house was designed to impress and convey status, then it certainly held me in awe when I first saw it!

The Granary on its curious legs...

A smaller homely roundhouse where the children ground corn into flour and made flat breads to cook on the griddles ( and of course like little Goldilocks twins they tried every bed in every house!)

Elswyth making bread

It is so nice for the children to experience all this... next time they shall have to try their hand at wattle and daub - they were too shy this time to have their faces and arms decorated with blue woad, but after all they are a bit small yet for war!

And lastly my favourite place of all. I could sit and dream all day in the big communal roundhouse. I feel so at home watching the sun slant throught the woodsmoke that blackens the thatch overhead, imagining the evenings they would have had here sharing songs and stories out of the wind and weather. The walls are painted with beasts and spirals, the benches well worn. It is dark yet your eyes soon grow accustomed. It is a warm, peaceful place and I am never ready to leave.
My pictures really don't do it justice and just can't convey the atmosphere I feel here. It is a place you need to feel with all your senses, to hear the embers in the fire, smell the soot in the timbers of the houses, touch the wood, grind the flour, immerse yourself in the past...
I love it (can you tell?)
If you are near or passing by, do visit and discover for yourselves!


  1. Wonderful! Thanks for the journey... the shrine was interesting... looks African in a way. I have friends trained by an African diviner from the Dagara people - Malidoma Some- the village they have created here is full of shrines that look very much like this one. And beautiful totem pole. So much to see when I finally make it to the UK!

  2. Oh WOW...and Robin Williamson performs here?! That would be the most incredible experience. But what an amazing place as it is, and I love the shrine. Definitely on my 'must see' list if I ever get back to the UK!

  3. Oh my giddy aunt, I am soooooo going to have to go visit this now. I can certainly see why you love it so. We have Butser Farm near us which I think runs along a similar theme;

    Well worth a visit if you're ever in this part of the world.

    Kate :-)

  4. So enchanting! How generous of you to post. Some of my favorite legends are Welsh in origin (and the chief Goddess in my personal pantheon is Welsh, as well). I love the shrine, the sculptures, the faces looking back at you as, I imagine, you turn a corner or glance up at the trees. I so hope I can make the visit one day.

  5. thank you for that wonderful journey, i am definately going to have to visit there next time we are down in that part of the country!

  6. Thanks for showing us this enchanting place and thanks also for visiting my shop! I can't tell you how thrilled I was to have sold my print. I would urge you to have a go yourself, there is so much information on the web now. Your owl is on his way.

  7. Thank you very much for sharing your journey... taking us there and making us feel a little bit of that place which I believe must be magical...
    I am amazed by that roundhouses!

  8. Hello! I was looking for a picture of a Celtic granary for my project about Celts and for my work, and your picture is perfect? May I use it? I will willingly sign your name on it. Should I buy it before posting it into my project or can I do it for free (my project is not commercial)? You can answer to "eira light" (without spaces) the at sign mail dot ru. Or you can post your answer here, as you wish. Thanks a lot!

  9. Hi Heidrek,
    Thankyou for asking permission first to use my pictures, that's very polite of you and much appreciated...
    I am happy for you to use pictures from this post for your project as long as they are pictures without my children in them.

    Castell Henllys is a fascinating place that gives you a real sense of what it was like living in the Iron Age.
    Good luck with your project, if you post it online I'd be really interested to see it - I love the Iron Age!
    Best wishes

  10. The project is in Russian, for Russian children who study English and who want to know more about ancient Celts and their history. This is our site (unfortunately it is available only in Russian yet) and our page about how Celts stored their food: (the project is rather new, that's why there are so few other pictures and photoes, but we are working on it!) Thanks so much for your photo!

  11. Fabulous Blog and Pictures thank you :D
    Thought you might like my machinima film,
    The Lammas Wickerman
    Bright Blessings


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