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Child finds ancient artefact on the drought-hit bed of Llyn Celyn

11 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Elfyn Wyn and his find & children from Capel Celyn before they were evicted.

An 11 year old budding archaeologist has discovered a mesolithic flint blade on the site of one of Wales’ most important historical sites thanks to last year’s dry summer and autumn.

Capel Celyn near Bala in north Wales is notoriously associated with one of the most important moments in modern Welsh history – the eviction of its inhabitants to create a reservoir to supply Liverpool with water in the face of widespread national opposition.

The moment proved pivotal in galvanising the calls that would eventually lead to the formation of Wales’s Senedd.

In that year, 1965, Alderman Frank Cain, Chairman of the Liverpool Water Committee, pulled a lever and buried the valley, the community and its history under 68 million tonnes of water.

Dry summer

Last year’s dry summer, with much lower-than-average rainfall, led to a serious drought across north Wales and famously revealed the main road and remnants of Capel Celyn’s chapel, with people from all over Wales making pilgrimages to the site.

11 year old Elfyn Wyn, a pupil at Ysgol Pen Barras, Rhuthun and member of Wales Young Archaeologists Club (YAC) was one such visitor.

Elfyn’s story

Elfyn told Nation.Cymru: “It was October when we went, so the rain was definitely going to come back and cover Capel Celyn once more. My Dad drove me there, I might be an adult the next time we get to go back!

“We wanted to see and do as much as possible. We sang at the chapel, walked down Celyn’s main road and climbed some of the village’s small hills.

“We could hear the Tryweryn, further up from the village, running along its old river bed, so we followed this. Old farming fields looked like something from another planet.

Walking through the past

Elfyn walked alongside stone wall boundaries of former fields intermingled with hedgerow stumps still bearing the chainsaw marks of the Liverpool Water Corporation contractors.

On the summit, resting on natural rock, Elfyn Wyn found a knapped Mesolithic flint blade and knew there and then, thanks to his membership of Young Archaeologists Club, that flint isn’t to be found naturally in Wales.

He knew that the flint he held would have had to have been carried there by human hands long ago.

Rhys Mwyn

This year, Elfyn contacted archaeologist and Radio Cymru presenter Rhys Mwyn, who immediately recognised the flint as being a small blade from the Neolithic or even as far back as the Mesolithic.

Elfyn & Rhys Mwyn

Mesolithic finds, found across North Wales, suggest a population that that followed water routes, particularly along the Dee Valley. Branching along the Tryweryn into the uplands would have presented many opportunities.

Flint carried by our Neolothic and Mesolithic ancestors were often in the form of projectile points and scrapers. Flint knives however are particularly special as they were used in daily life to cut up meat and other foodstuffs and also in preparing animal skins for use as leather and chord.

During the Mesolithic age, the climate in Wales became warmer and wetter than it is today. This led to changes in the vegetation, with the development of a wooded landscape inhabited by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

The diet included fish, wild boar and other animals such as elk, red deer, roe deer and aurochs (wild cattle).

Elfyn Wyn’s find

Even with future droughts, hope of finding ancient postholes and evidence of dwellings, might have alluded archaeologists forever with much of Capel Celyn’s topsoil compromised or washed away.  

Flint artefacts are found from time to time across Wales. However, there are no registered finds from the flooded Tryweryn valley floor on the National Museum of Wales’ ‘Portable Antiquities Scheme’. 

David Howell, Public Relations at the National Museum of Wales said of the find: “While a blade such as this is small, it stands out as a really interesting example of the archaeology in the area.

“Small tools like this are strong indicators of human activity being a consistent feature of the Capel Celyn area for thousands of years”

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Dyfan Roberts
Dyfan Roberts
4 months ago

Llongyfarchiadau mawr i Elfyn, a diolch hefyd i Wyn am fynd a fo yno!

Richard E
Richard E
4 months ago

Always been inspired by Capel Celyn like many in our nation. However like most histories there needs to be touch of re balance & re evaluation. Met a farmers family near Cilcain who “ painted” ( perhaps the wrong word ) another side. They spoke of a dying, poor community – rich in culture but poorly resourced and without the amenites of places like Bala. Their parents took the money and left the areas due to bad feelings – buying a farm in Clwyd. They asked me if Capel Celyn Chapel, Post and School would be ooen now ? They… Read more »

Bryan wyn roberts
Bryan wyn roberts
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard E

And the English wonder why we don’t like them

4 months ago

That’s why people don’t get on because idiots like u

4 months ago

How long until they say it’s Roman or Norman, maybe even Saxon. They stole the burial site of Sutton from us Britons Afterall… they only found the site due to the Bolts used in the ship. Saxons used Wooden Dowels. Then they found a Welsh Crwyth. And Our ancient language on a Sword.

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