The Cinderbury Settlement represents the kind of ditched and palisaded enclosure that would have been found in the area during the late Iron Age around 50BC when trade between Britain and Europe was good prior to the Roman invasion.
The village is approached via the farming area where you will see the types of crops and animals, many of which are now rare breeds, which would have been farmed in the Iron Age. Cattle were the most valued since they provided food, hide and represented the chieftain’s wealth. As such, they were often targeted by raiders from neighbouring tribes.
Horses were also important and depicted on the local Dubonni tribe’s coinage while sheep were valued for their wool, meat and milk.
Iron Age breeds were much smaller than those of today and are represented at Cinderbury by Dexter cattle, Exmoor ponies and Soay sheep.
Archaeological evidence from carbonised seed, pollen grains and even seed impressions in pottery has shown us the types of crops grown and these are replicated here at Cinderbury. Wheat and barley were grown along with rye, oats and millet. The earliest traceable domesticated cereal crops were einkhorn and emmer wheat which were cultivated in prehistoric times from Europe to the Near East. ‘Spelt’ wheat was introduced in the late Iron Age and was grown along with emmer wheat.
The vegetable and herb garden provided another food source. Several varieties of herbs and plants used for culinary and medicinal purposes in the Iron Age grow around the site.
The settlement is approached by a bridge crossing the ditch upon which is the palisaded boundary fence. The bridge would have been removable and there would be large gates to impress visitors and to serve as a means of defence. The ditch A further defence would have acted as a defence against wolves, bears, wild boar and raids from neighbouring settlements or local tribes.
Within the settlement area, the three roundhouses and additional workshops illustrate the variety of different building styles and materials round in the south-west of Britain during the Iron Age. Numerous settlements of this type would have been found throughout the Forest of Dean surrounding the central locations of the hillforts at Symonds Yat, Lydney and Welshbury.
A settlement of this size would be home to an extended family group of about 20 people. In contrast, the large hillforts at Welshbury, Lydney Part and Yat Rock at Symonds Yat would be the base of tribal leaders for the area and in times of great threat, occupants of a small family settlement such as Cinderbury, would retreat to a hillfort with stronger defences – and where they could obtain greater safety in numbers.
Cinderbury is a living history demonstration and celebration of the Iron Age way of life. Our staff, guides, craftspeople and residential guests are all dressed in Iron Age costume with our staff members identified by the wearing of silver torcs (neck bands).
Please talk to all our staff, guides and craftspeople – they’re here to share their wealth of knowledge, skills and experience. Cinderbury is all about participation and being a hands-on experience so ask questions, ask to handle artefacts, have a go at the crafts, sit beside the fire….
Get involved – and enjoy living the Cinderbury Experience!
And, if your day visit has whetted your appetite for more, then we host full Cinderbury Experience Week/Weekend Breaks.