Friday, 22 November 2013

Our New Prehistoric Bow Drilling Kit now for sale - an ideal Xmas Pressie!

Make your own shale necklaces or pendants using authentic Prehistoric technologies!

This kit consists of a willow bow with leather thong; one flint point drill; one copper point drill; a hazel top block; a hazel base block, sandstone for shaping and shale blanks.

Great for kids!  Illustrates a simple but ingenious technology and lets them make their own Prehistoric beads/pendants.

This hand-made Prehistoric Drill Kit can be yours for £58 (including postage & packaging & instructions) - Touch and feel the Past!

Planning permission for roundhouses through!!!

Excellent news through last night - we now have planning permission to start building the roundhouses Our application for overnight accommodation on the site is still pending, but soon elegant, giants from Prehistory will arise from the soggy earth to dominate the Conwy Valley as in times gone by! (Sits back and strokes large, fluffy white pussycat on knee and laughs maniacally!)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Our adventures for 2014!

Here are the planting and landscaping plans we have for the field - Cae Richard - next to the Studio.  We are intending to build two Late Prehistoric roundhouses and two Medieval longhouses. 

Two roundhouses we designed and built for Llynnon Mill, Anglesey

We are hoping to do the landscaping over the Winter and start building the first roundhouse in the Spring. We will be looking for people to give us a hand, so if you are intereted in building a Prehistoric house or developing a permaculture/nature area keep watching!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Illuminating the Bronze Age

Today I'm writing up our work reconstructing a Bronze Age miner's lamp found at the Great Orme Mines.  Here's a sneak preview!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Inside an Ancient Arts roundhouse.
Today I will mostly be designing the planting for the field next to our Studio where we will be building the Prehistoric roundhouse next year. It will be based on permaculture principles and include a food forest, an unmanaged boggy area, edible hedges, coppicing area, hoogle (or hugel) beds and experimental crop growing area. Exciting stuff! Dave is preparing for filming demonstrations in prehistoric copper smelting and mining techniques for the BBC next week. The cat is sleeping.
The site of the roundhouse.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

New Ancient Arts film online: Re-building the first English theatre!

Our lastest film is online now!  It tells the story of how we designed and re-built an Anglo-Saxon theatre based on one found and excavated at Yeavering in Northumberland.
Here's the link:

Friday, 4 October 2013

New bronze casting foundry at the Studio.

This week Dave's been setting up a modern bronze casting foundry at the Studio and extending the smelting hut by adding a lovely 'casting' wing! This will allow us to make many more replicas of some of the best pieces of decorative work produced in the Bronze Age/Iron Age for sale.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Flax Update!

Just a quick update on the flax retting we have been doing.

We had a couple of problems with the sunny weather and a constant breeze drying out our retting pond.  In future we will dig retting ponds in sheltered, shaded location (part of the fun of experimenting is learning these little, but very important things!). 

The flax retted well and is now standing upright, under shelter, drying out.  Once its dried out we will bash the fibres free from the pith and have linen fibre ready for spinning.

I will post more photo's when we do this! 

We were also very impressed by the 'dew' retting process (the flax was just lain flat on grass).  It took a bit longer, but the fibres seem to be of equal quality.  We have kept the two bundles separate and process them separately too and report on any variation.

Ancient Arts new 3D Sensory Interpretation Panels - feel the past!

Looking to add quality and improve the visitor experience to your heritage site? 

 Take a look at our beautiful, bronze 3D Sensory Interpretation boards: What every well presented heritage site will be wearing next year!

Made from bronze, we can make, accurate replicas of artefacts found on or associated with heritage sites.  They emerge from the bronze base to be felt, but are solid metal; virtually vandal proof.

Organic material, such as this replica sling shot can be represented as can vegetation.

For more details visit:  Ancient Arts 3D Sensory Panels

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Ancient Arts at the 8th Experimental Archaeology Conference 2014, nearly as good as The Rolling Stones at Glasto!

Yea! We will presenting a paper on our work identifying and reconstructing the earliest known Bronze Age copper smelting furnace found in the UK at the 8th Experiemental Archaeology Conference at Oxford Uni next January - should be fun!
Dave firing up the reconstructed Pentrwyn furnace.
 For more on this fascinating project go here:

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Bede's World Anglo-Saxon flags

Yea! We've nearly finished the Anglo-Saxon flags for Bede's World.
One of the stencils used.
One of the finished flags
A big AA thank you to Emma for all her hard work on the flags!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The ideal AA experiment: It's stinky and muddy! Retting flax.

Our weaving and dyeing friend, Eryl, has been growing flax this year and yesterday we started processing the plant to make linen.  She has cultivated c10m square of flax this Summer. Here are the plants. The have been pulled up (root included) not cut and dried for 2 weeks.
The seed heads and my foot.

This is the 'hackle' or 'heckle' a comb like tool which removed the seed heads from the stalks.

This being the Summer holidays I had my little helper, Ginny, with me. She kindly agreed to help in the 'hackling'.

You draw the stalks through the 'hackle' and the seedheads fall off.

The seed heads are then collected together in a bag (old pillowcase) and either crushed between the fingers or...

bashed (Ginny's preferred technique!). This releases the seeds which can be kept for next year. Winnowing would separate the shells from the seeds, but there was no wind yesterday so we have keep them for a windy day.

Next you need an easily bribed person with a scythe (a sausage bap worked on Dave!).

I have been really impressed by the scythe. It clears overgrown areas much quicker than a strimmer and more neatly. Dave is clearing the ground ready for our retting pit.

To extract the fibres from the plant you traditionally rett the stalks. Basically leave the stalks in wet or damp conditions and let the bacteria break down the stalk leaving a foul smell and fibres. We de-turfed and dug a small pit.

To make the pit so that it holds water, we puddled it. Simply pour water into the pit and stomp up and down on it. This compresses the soil.

Continue to pour water into the pit and stomp. This makes lovely mud and saturates the surrounding soil.

Don't forget to compress the sides as well.

You know when its ready when the water starts to fill the pit.

In goes the flax!

Now you just wait for a couple of weeks, check the water is still there and let the bugs do their bit.

We are also trying dew retting. Simply leaving the stalks on grass and let the dew moisten the stalks. This will take longer to break down the stalks. We also laid out some nettles on the grass to see how they break down. I will post the results. Eryl is doing a dyeing with natural dye workshop at the allotments behind the hospital in Llandudno on Sunday PM. Pop along if you can its fascinating!

Prehistoric Life & Ancient Technologies Course: Day 2

Day two started with making darts and spear throwers.

Once the darts had been straightened, flighted and the spear throwers made the target was set up (note the rogue sheep behind the target which had 3 acres to wander about in but decided the grass behind the target was the most delicious!).

David demonstrating how to use the spear thrower (located at the flighted end of the spear) as a simple lever.

Tim and Patricia ready for action!

Patricia making some adjustments to her spear.

Tim aiming for the sheep!

After spear throwing in the rain we headed indoors to make some fire to dry us off and Prehistoric lamps to take us into night! More photo's to follow. Thanks to everyone who joined us over the weekend and keep up the spear throwing practice; we will get that sheep one day!

Prehistoric Life & Ancient Technologies Course: Day 1

We had a lovely weekend running the Prehistoric Life course; met lots of really interesting new friends and had a moving target (a rogue sheep!) to aim at for the spear throwing (we didn't get anywhere near, she was too quick)!
Prehistoric Life & Ancient Technologies Course August 2013  
The first day started with a stone (Graig Llwyd granite) knapping workshop and then we moved outside to construct composite tools using granite flakes/blades, natural glue and wooden handles.
The glue was made from bees wax and tree resin (applied when heated).

A finished composite tool.

We also had a go at using flint blades to cut out bone and antler 'blanks' for pins.

Then it was time to make probably one of the most important technological development by humans - string and cordage. We experimented with different plant fibres notably willow bark and nettle.

Julie's collection of stone tools, composite tools and cordage - ready to survive the Stone Age!