We get regular enquiries at the Centre about the Deserted Village on South Commons, particularly about how old it is. The Griffiths Valuation maps (circa 1858 for this area) show Edward Maguire holding two acres of land around the main house. Back down the lane, Bernard Flynn had about a quarter acre and Patrick Donnelly a similar plot around their respective houses, the walls of which can still be seen. Interestingly, they were not renting from landlords: all the plots were freehold. These were the arable plots: the families probably really lived off the 450 acres of commonly held grazing that surrounded them. But aspects of the houses – signs of a wicker chimney breast and high threshold stones in the Maguire house – suggest they were built centuries earlier. And then there is the strange little structure built deep into a stone wall which is widely believed to be a sweat house. These sauna-style heat baths were used into medieval times but seem to have originated in the Bronze Age (let’s say 3000 years ago). They may have had ritual or religious significance, but their original purpose was to remove all human smells before the men went hunting, probably naked. In the field behind Maguire’s there is a strange structure marked on the maps as a Giant’s Grave. In fact, it is the remains of a classic passage grave which can be safely dated to 3500-3000 BC. So let’s just say the Deserted Village is pretty old.