Restoration of WayLands Smithy 1963


Wayland’s Smithy – Courtesy of Ray Gigg

(selected from a competition for publication in “52 Things to Do Far from the Madding Beaches”)

Wayland’s Smithy – the 4000 year old burial place on the Ridgeway, near Uffington Castle, is the first recorded discovery of a long barrow, or burial mound, contained within another mound made in later years. In 1963 academic staff and students from Edinburgh and Cardiff Universities began careful and patient archaeological work, sanctioned by the Ministry of Works, in an attempt to unravel its secrets.The dig revealed that the site originally comprised an unchambered earthern long barrow of the type found on the chalk downs. A generation or so later the site was remodelled. The skeletal remains of about 10 people were unearthed together with broken pottery of the Neolithic type (about 2500 B.C.). The various stages of the investigations are illustrated below. At the end of the 2 year dig the site was restored, as shown in the photograph above.

The following photographs are all courtesy of Ann Disbury

Waylands Smithy encircled by Trees

Excavations get underway

Close up of a trench

Facade stone east of entrance to burial chamber – this stone weighs seven tons.