Experimental Archaeology

About the Project

Building Reconstruction

A number of roundhouses and one four-post structure have been reconstructed at Castell Henllys, on their original sites and using all the specific information recovered about the buildings from excavation. These now include the longest-standing Iron Age buildings in Britain. The initial construction has been informative, as has the resourcing of maintenance.

Earthwork Experiment

A small earthwork was constructed and left for 10 years before being archaeologically investigated. This showed that it was possible to construct a rampart that could be effectively stabilised immediately. On gravel and clay subsoils, erosion of ramparts need not have been severe, even immediately after construction, if the builders used turf and grass seed to cover the rampart slopes.


An important find at Castell Henllys was a large hoard of pebble slingshots, buried under the walling associated with the second stone phase of fort entrance. Experiments with different forms of slings and sling use, using the actual pebble slingshots and also clay replicas of those found at Glastonbury and Meare, have been undertaken.

Other Experiments

A range of experiments have been undertaken that link to particular archaeological problems encountered at Castell Henllys. Heavily burnt shale rock, probably caused by a similar process that produces vitrification on igneous rocks, has been found at the Castell Henllys Iron Age fort entrance. Experiments with Prof Don Brothwell have investigated the temperatures to be reached for this to occur. Other experiments have been undertaken on various craft activities.


This research programme was funded by the following institutions:

The project continues to make significant contributions to our understanding of the Iron Age.


  • H Mytum 2004 'Policy and Purpose in Reconstruction at Castell Henllys Iron Age Fort, Wales'. In J. Jameson Jr (ed.) The Reconstructed Past, 91-102. Walnut Creek, AltaMira Press
  • H Mytum 2003 'Evoking Time and Place in Reconstruction and Display: The Case of Celtic Identity and Iron Age Art'. In J.H. Jameson Jr., J.E. Ehrenhard, and C.A. Finn (eds.) Ancient Muses. Archaeology and the Arts, 92-108. Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama Press.