Rugged Romans and Muddy Monks!

Gwent Levels History Day 2019


The weather has not been great over the past couple of weeks. We’ve had blustery and windy days, with plenty of rain to go with it. These were the conditions on Saturday, 28 September at the National Trust’s Tredegar House. Fortunately, this did not stop hundreds of people attending the second annual ‘Rugged Romans and Muddy Monks’ Gwent Levels History Day.

The idea behind the event was to give a wide range of people the opportunity to learn more about the Gwent Levels, from families to the true history buffs. The history of this landscape is remarkable. Way before humans walked this land, the low lying coastal plain was a stomping ground for dinosaurs. Over the following eras, it experienced massive storms and ice ages. During the Mesolithic era, humans started to shape the area, as hunter-gatherers roamed the land looking for prey. The Romans left their mark with their complex system of ditches and reens, which the medieval muddy monks reinstated and since then, people have farmed and made their livelihoods on the Levels, up to today.

This rich past was all on show during the event, and over 600 people got the chance to see some of the ancient remains, artefacts and archaeological finds that helps us understand more about the area’s history. There were also re-enactments, and the roman soldiers proved to be very popular, especially when they faced off with the massive t-rex dinosaur replica!


The event ran alongside the Cotyledon Food and Craft market, and we were lucky to be in the company of several interesting local groups, each one experts in their own fields. Volunteers of the RATS project was there to share some of their learnings about the ‘Recapturing the Historic Landscape’ project and ‘The Great Flood-1607’. We also had ‘Life on the Levels’ Oral History Project and Redwick History Group to give a little background on the more recent history of the communities located within the Levels.

Other exhibitors included Gwent Archives, The Coracle Society, Severn Estuary Partnership, Black Rock Lave Net Fishery, Caerleon Museum, Dig Ventures Archaeology, Newport Transporter Bridge, National Museum of Wales, Newport Museum, Newport Medieval Ship. This long list of organisations and societies goes to show the wealth and diversity of history the Gwent Levels has to showcase to the rest of the country.

It was a brilliant event, with plenty to do and see for all the family. We’d like to thank everyone who came on the day, as well as the exhibitors and all who shared their precious knowledge of this unique landscape … and a special thank you to our partners National Trust for hosting the event at the historic Tredegar House.

We have plenty of events and volunteering opportunities coming up over the winter as well. Visit here to find out more.