Stuart Wilson, an archaeology graduate student, has been working for fifteen years to get recognition from the archaeology establishment for finding a medieval city in the UK. Until recently, they have denied him legitimacy. But now, he is finally vindicated, as science corroborates his discovery.
Wilson spent £32,000 to investigate a hunch – that a farm field on England’s Welsh border was the site of Trellech, a lost medieval city. When he rolled these very expensive dice, he was working as a toll booth attendant. Despite the urgings of his friends and family to invest the money in other, more conventional ways, he stuck to his guns.
He recruited volunteers to help with the excavation. The dig took fifteen years to complete. And the work has paid off. Wilson found what appears to be the remains of a city. Most notably, he found what appears to be the ruins of a manor house and surrounding moat.
Wilson, now 37, will continue the investigation this year.
When he took his findings to established archaeologists, he was largely met with skepticism. But their tune has changed. He was recently asked to speak at a Cardiff Archaeological Society event at Cardiff University.
Sometimes, it pays off to give people the benefit of the doubt. When the farmer who originally owned the land brought his property to the attention of the Monmouth Archaeological Society, Wilson was the only one who took him seriously. The farmer had found shards of what appeared to be Medieval-era pottery strewn around the grounds, dug up by moles.
A few years later, Wilson was first in line to buy the 4.6 acres when it went up for sale.
Wilson, who devoted his entire life to the dig, inspired about one thousand volunteers to help in the effort.
At this point, eight buildings have been identified in the dig site. Wilson expects that more will be uncovered.
He is now hoping to develop the land and build an interpretation center near the ruins. He also wants to build a campsite for volunteers and visitors who want to stay long-term.
Trellech, small by modern standards, was actually one of the largest settlements in Wales during the 13th century. It is now designated as a Conservation Area. Trellech has 26 known spellings. In fact, road signs entering the area give it three different names: Trellech, Trelleck and Trelech.
This year appears to be Wilson’s year. It must feel great to finally be vindicated.