Tryllegg – Ancient stones and waters

The village of Trelleck where we are staying is old enough that nobody knows how to spell it. Here in the disputed Welsh Marches, close to Offa’s Dyke, it has likely changed hands more than we know. The last Saxon king Harold Godwinson won a great battle here against the Britons in 1052 when he was still just Earl of Wessex. His followers or supporters named three prominent menhirs in a field near here after him: Harold’s stones. They mark the graves of the Briton chieftains he cut down. Violence breeds violence. Four years later the Normans shot him in the eye and that was that.

We went to see the menhirs. They’re bronze age, so if they mark the graves of these chieftains then it’s because the bodies were dragged here. They just sit in a field, pointing towards the midwinter sun. Long grass all around them and likely it pastures sheep now. Below them, deep underground, an iron rich stream runs. Track the line of them more or less directly eastwards and you come to their counterpart, where the water bubbles up to the surface and is housed in a well. Rich healing water, almost completely neglected, even more so than the stones. A collapsed bridge leading to it, and then this Yin to the Yang of the menhirs. Big hard stones thrusting themselves up in the air, opposite a healing wellspring bringing iron-rich waters.

In between the well and the stones is an archaeological dig where they have found a lost city. It was huge by early standards. The biggest medieval city in Wales. One farmer worked out it was there when moles turned up some pottery. It takes the right kind of brain to make that connection. Some smart and bold people have made it their passion to try and dig into the bits of land they can dig into. Fascinating things are turning up. The problem is that land is expensive here and the usual crowd want to buy to let. The more they can dig the more they can find but the archaeological interest means that speculators are trying to get the land around it. In so doing they’re gonna make it harder to get the interesting bits dug up at a pace where you aren’t going to smash stuff. It’s not heavily trumpeted that this stuff is here. The stones are easier to find than the well, but none of it is even close to the fanfare surrounding many ancient sites around the world. Just some old wooden signs and little signs on metal gates over 75 years old.

I’m rather taken by this part of the world. The history of it. The peace here. There are some ghastly properties coming up, but the older ones have charm and the bones of this place run deep. The earth and the water are strong, the stars are bright at night. I can’t afford property here but if I could I’d be seriously looking, if for no other reason than to stop these people putting plastic houses full of beige crud on top of somebody’s ancient buried forge.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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