Man spends life savings on field in bid to find lost medieval city

History buff Stuart Wilson paid £32,000 for the 4.6 acre plot of land

Updated: 
History buff gambles life savings on field in hope of finding medieval city

A history fan was so convinced that secrets were hidden beneath the soil of an empty field he blew his entire life savings to purchase it.

Stuart Wilson has been finally proved right 12 years later after he dug it up to discover it was home to a medieval city.

See also: 81 'rare' Anglo Saxon coffins found in Norfolk

See also: 'Golden Curse' tablets discovered in Ancient Roman city


The 27-year-old paid £32,000 for the 4.6-acre plot of land, where he found the site of the ancient industrial town of Trellech in South Wales.

The former toll booth worker lived with his parents so he could finance his field of dreams - and says the decision has fully paid off.

History buff gambles life savings on field in hope of finding medieval city
People work on the site of the ancient industrial town

History buff gambles life savings on field in hope of finding medieval city
An artefact found at the site

History buff gambles life savings on field in hope of finding medieval city
A well was discovered at the dig site

Stuart said: "I should have really bought a house and got out from my parents', but I thought: 'To hell with my parents, I will stay at home and I shall buy a field instead.

"People said 'you must be mad'."

But Stuart says he has been proved right and the field is an important site to study Norman life.

He said: "This is a massive settlement dating back to the 13th century.

"At its peak, we're talking about a population of maybe around 10,000 people. In comparison, there were 40,000 in London, so it's quite large.


Stuart Wilson spent all of his savings on the property


An aerial view of the site


Some of the artefacts discovered by Stuart and volunteers


Another artefact recovered by volunteers

"This population grew from nothing to that size within 25 years. Now it took 250 years for London to get to 40,000 people, so we're talking a massive expansion.

"And that's just the planned settlement. The slums would have been quite numerous.

"There you would be talking even 20,000 plus. It's a vast area.

"If you're working in the fields you are living hand to mouth every single day - it's a really hard existence."


The field was hiding a medieval city


Trellech in south Wales


People told Stuart he must be 'mad' when he bought the land


Hundreds of volunteers have helped with the dig

He added: "Suddenly, a big industrial town comes here, this is a great opportunity for you.

"You up-sticks - to hell with your land - 'let's move to the industrial town where the opportunity is'.

"Stuart said the settlement was the home of several Norman lords of the de Clare family who used it as a place to mass produce iron.


Archaeologist Paul Davies carefully excavates one of the buildings ​​​​​​​


Stuart looks for artefacts​​​​​​​


Inside the well discovered at the site

He added: "It probably had a population about a quarter of the size of medieval London, and it grew from nothing at a much faster rate over 25 years in the mid 1200s."

Hundreds of volunteers have helped Stuart with his excavation and he is seeking planning permission for an education centre.

He said: "As we take more on, there's a greater need to expand our campsite and while there are several campsites within a walkable distance, it would be better to have something here."

TripAdvisor's 25 best landmarks in the world 2016

TripAdvisor's 25 best landmarks in the world 2016