In a small lake beside RAF Valley airbase was found one of the most significant Iron Age hoards in Britain. For a period of about 400 years, from 300 BC to 100 AD precious metal objects such as spears and swords and many other artifacts were placed in the lake as offerings to the gods.
These wetlands of reed beds and small lakes are now an RSPB nature reserve but for the ancient Celts it was a sacred place and throughout the Bronze Age and Iron Age it was common practice to place votive offerings to their gods in rivers, lakes and bogs.
Since the original plaque was erected it has been discovered that the artifacts were being placed in the lake for a much longer period of time than the 160 years indicated here.
The objects were discovered during the Second
World War when workmen were constructing the airfield and the first object to
be discovered was a heavy iron gang chain, probably used for slaves. The
workmen didn’t realise what it was and found it useful for attaching to a
tractor to pull lorries out of the mud – it did the job! Once it was identified as an Iron Age gang
chain a further search was made and about 180 objects were found, including
swords, spears, blacksmiths tools, horse gear, parts of shields, cauldrons and
chariots and a bronze trumpet.
Some of the finds are on display in Oriel Ynys
Môn, Anglesey’s main museum and art gallery, including this decorated bronze
The item that has centre stage in the Llyn Cerrig Bach display, and needs a large glass case to house it, is a replica of one of the two gang chains that were found. It’s a daunting and gruesome piece of iron work, a heavy 3m long chain with 5 neck shackles and weighs 6.66kg. This is probably evidence of slavery during the late Iron Age in Wales. I was allowed to take a photo but not to publish it in any way, so I can’t include it here, but other photos are available on line.
Llyn Cerrig Bach is situated very close to the runways at RAF Valley and is sandwiched between a road and a railway – although that’s something the cameras usually leave out when it’s featured in history documentaries!
Despite that, when you take the short path down to the lake shore you are among the scrubby bushes and reeds, out of sight of the modern world. The peace and tranquillity may be shattered by the sudden roar of an RAF Hawk taking off but it becomes a peaceful place again between take offs and landings.
Walking back down the road I got a big wave from the instructor in the Hawk as they were sitting on the runway waiting for take off.