A staggering 1032 visitors ‘unlocked’ the history of the Gwent Levels at our flagship History day last month!

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Our flagship event was part of Cadw’s Open Doors month and took place on September 29th. The event attracted 1032 visitors – double the usual amount for Newport Wetlands on a typical Saturday and a big number for the out of season period. The main event of the day, the ‘Time Trial Trail’, took visitors from the Stone age, to Roman occupation and the medieval period, and right through to the legacy of the Tredegar estate and the rise of industry. The rich history of the landscape, and key events like the discovery of the Newport Ship and the Great Flood were brought to life via an array of fun family activities.

With displays and demonstrations from local heritage and archaeology groups, including the historic Black Rock Lave Net fishermen and the traditional craftsmen of the Coracle Society, the day delivered a fascinating journey of discovery! A roving Roman Centurion was on hand to answer questions people had about the influence of the Romans on the Gwent Levels landscape. Many people learnt how the Romans based at Caerleon used to graze their cavalry horses on the Levels and were the first to build a sea wall and drain the land!

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A short-guided walk took people to the top of one of the Gwent Level’s few high points – the Church Tower and spire of St. Mary’s in Nash. Once described as the ‘cathedral of the moors’, visitors were rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding fields and their historic drainage features, as well as the stunning Severn Estuary.

And as part of our tongue-in-cheek ‘Antiques Roadshow’ drop-in, an artefact brought in by the Lave Net Fishermen, found on one of their fishing expeditions in the Estuary, was identified by onsite expert Dr. Mark Lewis as a Roman brooch and has gone to Caerleon Museum for dating. It’s amazing what archaeological treasures are buried in the landscapes and seascapes of the Gwent Levels!

The day was a great success with many participants reporting that they discovered many new things during their visit and enjoyed the experience. Cracking stuff - stay tuned for more events like this next year!