Cosmeston, a recreated medieval village in Wales from 600 year-old foundations discovered in 1978, has served as a tourist attraction almost as long. Once archaeologists and the Vale of Glamorgan Council decided to rebuild, they settled on the year 1350 and rebuilt thatched huts, wattle fences, wagons, and farm and craft implements. And they had docents dressed in fourteenth century garb and caring for a variety of animals in the compound. Docents could explain to tourists what life was like and show them how they used their tools.
But no more.
In this village that was used as a backdrop for the BBC Wales television show Merlin, the docents are being given their walking papers. The animals are gone. It will become a medieval ghost town. The Vale of Galmorgan council said it will save some £50,000 by eliminating the costumed docents and the animals, and opening the gates for free. But what good will that do, says archaeologist Karl-James Langford, when visitors can get in for free but there will be no living history to see. Only empty buildings.
"There will be no money to pay for the roofs to be re-thatched as I'm told will be needed in the next few years," said Langford. "There's going to be nobody sitting next to you by an open fire telling you about the history of the village...You can't get that from a tape recording."
Helen Reeves-Howard, who for years also dressed in costume as a docent, has started a petition to change the council's decision. "Not only is [the village] a tourist attraction," she said, "it provides a unique taste of the 14th Century that people will not get anywhere else...It's also a site of huge historical interest, and contains the earliest example of a semi-detached cottage in Britain."
What the Black Death couldn't do, misguided government decisions might.
You can see more about the village here.
UPDATE: From Helen Reeves-Howard
Thank you for your interest. I am only sorry I didn't know earlier. The petitions have gone off. however, it is never too late to write directly to the man behind the scenes who has brought all this about. Feel free to write as many letters to Bob Guy as you wish. Contact: Bob Guy 01446 724333 firstname.lastname@example.org. or write directly to him at the docks office, Dock Office,. Barry Docks,. Barry. CF63 4RT. much love Helen Reeves-Howard.