Sometimes stories are just too good to be true. In 2001, Stuart Wilson was working as a toll booth operator with an archaeology degree when he took a gamble and spent his life savings – £32,000 – on a nondescript field straddling the England-Wales border. While his family thought he was making a foolish move, Wilson had a hunch. While on a dig near the field a few years’ prior, the then-student Wilson observed that moles digging near the fields were bringing fragments of what looked like pottery to the surface. When the 4.6-acre field went up for sale two years later, Wilson went out on a limb, quit his job, and bought the field in spite of warnings from naysayers:
Much more experienced people were saying the city wasn’t there but I was young and confident. People thought I was mad and really I should have bought a house rather than a field, but it turned out to be the best decision of my life. I don’t regret it at all.
Now, after over fifteen years of digging with the help of volunteers, Wilson believes he has found the lost medieval city of Trellech. Eight buildings have been found so far, along with scores of artifacts including pottery, plumbing, and fireplaces.
These recent finds at the site have vindicated Wilson, who for years was assumed to be a misguided dreamer. Now, he has been invited to speak at the Cardiff Archaeological Society and even has plans to soon open the site to visitors.
Trellech was established during the thirteenth century and at its height was one of the most bustling metropolises in medieval Wales. After a few raids from rival villages and a bad case of the Black Death, Trellech soon fell into ruin. The Welsh rebel Owain Glyndŵr finished off the village in the 16th century in retaliation against English rule of Wales.