The Silures are coming!
Saturday 15 February 1997
The modern Silures tribe is a history re-enactment group whose members willingly spend weekends enduring the lifestyle of first-century British Celts. They inhabit reconstructed roundhouses on sites of ancient settlements, sleeping on earthen floors - and, in good Celtic tradition, fighting.
"I spend five days a week as a bereavement counsellor and occupational therapist; for the other two, I time travel." Eryl Jones feels she has found the perfect solution to a stressful Nineties lifestyle.
Mrs Jones is joined by 30 or so others at weekends. They share a love of history and the compulsion to do something a little more King Arthur- ish than joining a local historical society.
Members of the original Silures tribe were described as short, wiry, dark-haired and extremely fierce, with tribal lands in Wales stretching from the River Severn to western Gwent and as far north as the Brecon Beacons. The modern group is mainly from South Wales, but English members are welcome.
"We try to emulate Iron Age Celtic life as accurately as possible to show people it was not a shabby or primitive era. This was a time when skilled people lived within an organised society," Mrs Jones says.
The group is in big demand, not only for "hack, slash and feast" shows, but also for demonstrating Celtic crafts, assisting school parties in the teaching of Iron Age history and archaeology, and doing film work. An enormous amount of time is put into researching the era. "Authenticity is the key, and everything we do is based on archaeological finds," says Mrs Jones. "Our costumes are hand-stitched, using material either woven on appropriate looms or first checked under a magnifying glass to ensure that the cloth could have been produced in the first century. The colours must be as near as possible to the plant dyes used at the time, and our tools, weapons and jewellery are produced on ancient-style forges.
"Our food includes stewed and spit-roasted meat, cooked on open fires, and only vegetables and pulses that were available at the time. This means onions are out - they were introduced by the Romans at a later date. We also eat unleavened bread and honey cakes."
As first-century Celts, they live in windowless roundhouses lit by candles made from animal fat, sleep on mud floors, and cook on chimney-less fires in the centre of a single room. A Celt's life seems to have been harsh, but they evidently loved self-adornment: the wealthiest wore heavy iron jewellery, and warriors painted their faces and bodies with intricate patterns before battle. The modern-day Celts use the vivid blue extract from boiled leaves of wild woad plants.
The Silures were a tough lot and were never fully conquered by the Romans. After a series of clashes and struggles, they were allowed to keep their chiefs and were given a degree of self-rule, although their taxes went to Rome.
Eryl Jones's partner, Steve, provides warfare training. He manages to combine the roles of chief battle captain and safety officer. Mrs Jones is events organiser.
"Anyone is welcome to join us for one event to see if they enjoy it. After three shows they can become an associate member and take on a character to re-enact, making their own clothes, shoes and any other items they need," Mrs Jones says. "A member is expected to learn a craft or skill in keeping with their chosen character to demonstrate at events. We have no rules on the person's status, as long as it is an accurate portrayal."
The Silures tribe can be found at Castellhenllys, Dyfed; St Fagans, near Cardiff; the Glastonbury lake village; Butser Iron Age farm, near Portsmouth, and New Barn, near Dorchester. Details: Mrs Eryl Jones, 20 Mendip View, Wick, Bristol BS15 5PY (01179 374059).
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Ex-Scientologist Carmen Llwyelyn blasts 'cult' and her treatment after divorce with Jason Lee
Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...
£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...