REMAINS of an ancient shepherd’s hut dating from the Bronze Age – around 4,500 years ago – have been discovered in a Blaenau Gwent valley.
The prehistoric hut was discovered on a private farm at the top of the Cwmcelyn valley, near Blaina, and is the first Bronze Age hut to be found in Blaenau Gwent.
Ian Fewings, a member of Aberystruth History and Archaeology Society, was browsing Google Earth looking for signs of a First World War firing range when he said something else caught his eye.
Mr Fewings said: “Last year we found a firing range which was used by the 3rd Mons. We knew there were other ones to find so I was looking for things on Google Earth.
“But this caught my eye, it jumped straight out at me.
“It was very exciting.”
He spotted the round circle on private land and went to visit the site with local historian Frank Olding.
“We got permission from the land owner to go and take a look. Frank said he can’t be sure but he thought it was a Bronze Age circle. We got a second opinion, we had an archaeologist come across and she confirmed it.”
The site is a circular platform cut into the side of the hill and would once have been a small house home to prehistoric shepherds or farmers.
It is believed the farmers would have used the huts in summer when they brought their sheep and cattle onto the top of the hills for summer grazing.
Mr Fewings said the owner of the land, Anthony Price, knew the site was there but had been told it was from where sheep feeders were put on the ground.
Mr Fewings said: “Mr Price also found some flint on the site dating from the Neolithic period which was 9,000 years ago so we know people have been using this valley for 9,000 years.”
The history and archaeology society have now put a funding bid into the Heritage Lottery Fund to survey all the archaeological sites in the valley and are waiting to hear back.
“The Cwm Celyn Valley has a wealth of archaeological remains,” Mr Fewings said. “If we get the grant from HLF, we will be able to survey and excavate some of the important archaeological sites lurking in this forgotten landscape.”
They also want to launch a local community project to explore the area’s rich history – from the Bronze Age up until the present day – and invite people to come and share memories and help with the archaeology.