BACK in 1991 archaeologists were hard at work in the Severn estuary digging up an Iron Age village which was half buried in the mud.

And they were convinced the find has international significance.

Here's how we reported it at the time:

A team of archaeologists and students led by Dr Martin Bell, of St David's College, Lampeter, have been working on the site off Goldcliff point near Newport, for the last three weeks.

To reach the remains of two huts, an ancient forest and pathways preserved in a peat layer, completely covered at high tide, they have to negotiate 100 yards of treacherously slippy mud and clay.

Another problem is that when they get there yesterday's painstaking work has been covered in a fresh layer of 20th century slime.

But despite the difficulties they have already labelled and recovered wooden walls complete with wattle weaving, reed flooring, animal bones and stalls, dating from 200BC.

"The rectangular huts from this period are unique in Britain," said Dr Bell. "Normally you only find holes where hut poles have been, here we have the structures and evidence of the contemporary environment, beetles, seeds, pollen."

The team now hope detailed laboratory analysis o their finds will build up a new picture of everyday life in the Iron Age.

Not least they would like to know what the huts, which would have been built on marshy land, described as "fen woodland" were actually for.

"There is no hearth and no pottery, so we don't know if they were lived in," said Dr Bell. "But they are so substantial. It seems unlikely people would have gone to all that trouble for animals."

He and coastal warden Derek Upton, who discovered the huts, believe they whole area may contain many more secrets. They have already noticed ancient pathways which seem to be leading to a site further out in the channel.

There is no lack of international interest in the area, but experts fear projects such as the Cardiff and Usk barrages, the second Severn crossing and the Severn-side airport could both reveal and destroy many new sites.