Fonmon Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan has launched a host of new and expanded attractions for the summer. It is also set to welcome a team of archaeologists to investigate a suspected iron age ringwork in its grounds.
Top of the castle’s list of new attractions is an interactive story trail with a strong Welsh theme: children get to follow the adventures of Fon and Mon in Welsh and English as they track down a dragon who’s been wreaking havoc in the area. Along the way they can make loud noises on woodland instruments, spot fairies and solve the mystery of why the dragon is causing so much trouble.
“It’s a unique story trail and very much a team effort,” says Ross O’Hennessy, who runs the attractions at Fonmon and is also well-known as a Game of Thrones actor. “My mother wrote the story, a member of staff who also does subtitling for S4C did the translation and another member of staff created the artwork. The story is a one-of-a-kind experience that won’t be repeated anywhere else.”
Another new attraction, the Pirates’ Adventure Centre, will open soon near the river that runs through the estate. It’s rooted in real local history: in the past, the river was navigable and took ships all the way up to Penmark, passing Fonmon Castle on the way. Pirates’ smuggling activities were heavily focused on the nearby Blue Anchor pub.
“The Pirates’ Adventure Centre is rooted in those local legends and will teach children about pirates and pirating in South Wales at the time,” says Ross.
He is also pleased to have welcomed live animals back to Fonmon’s medieval village, which had been populated with model animals for the past year due to Covid restrictions. In addition, the village now has a collection of traders’ huts in which local traders are selling their wares. These include dinosaur toys and fossils, local craft beers, honeys and infusions and “magical” items.
“We’re pleased to be able to support local entrepreneurs and while adding these new attractions to the Medieval Village – it’s really brought it to life,” says Ross.
In the adjoining dinosaur park, several new dinosaurs have been added, and there’s now a new “Raptor Feeding Area” which is not for the faint hearted!
Ross is also looking forward to welcoming an archaeological team in July to investigate an area behind the dinosaur enclosure where signs of a large Iron Age ringwork (a type of enclosed settlement) have been found.
“The archaeological team are coming from Southampton to do a geophysical survey to check it out,” says Ross. “If they can confirm it, we’ll know that people have been living at Fonmon for over 3000 years.”
Finally, the castle is opening a new sculpture trail in its Victorian ornamental wooded garden.
“As always, there’s a lot going on here,” says Ross. “Fonmon is an amazing place to work and it’s exciting developing the attractions here – it really does offer something for everyone.”