The second day I can only describe as – Castle Day! I love castles. Ever since I was a child and my parents dragged me all around north Wales looking at them. Most would say that it was boring but for me castles are the reason I studied archaeology in Uni.
We were looking at three… The White Castle – so named because the walls where once covered in a lime wash.
Then next came Gosmont Castle… This one I loved because I was able to climb the battlements.
Then came the third Skenfrith Castle. This was very strange with large walls surrounding a single tower. It was accessible by boat as well – no hill for this one.
Love the secret door that led to the river. It’s a very pretty castle.
In Gosmont we also went to the church and I met this guy… I’m guessing he was a knight garrisoned at the castle, but I am not sure.
Then we ran forward in time on the tour to Blaenavon Ironworks. If you can get to see this then go. It is beautiful and disturbing at the same time. They have set out the ironworks so you can see how it worked. They use light and mirrors, burning molten iron are not good for health and safety, but you can get the gist. For anyone in the UK this is where they also shot the ‘Coal House‘ series.
The conditions were horrifying and the work dangerous. Go and see it if you can.
The model is particularly good. Made out of iron it is being allowed to rust. You see the houses with the chimney out the center? Well those houses were where some of the workers lived and the chimney belched out soot and fumes 24 hours a day. The workers were also not paid in cash but in tokens that were only redeemable in the company shop. Basically they owned you once you started to work for them.
I also saw Blaenavon Coal Pit – the Big Pit. I have no photos for this… Mainly because we got there fairly late and there was only time to go down into the mine. And you can’t take mobile phones or digital cameras… It is a flame risk – from pockets of methane gas. I kid you not. It was a scary and creepy experience. One day I will write about it, but not today.
So that was day two… It was busy! And I have got to say that Archaeotours were brilliant getting everything squeezed into a day.