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02 April 2012
An unexplored Iron Age hillfort in Cardiff’s Ely and Caerau suburb has brought together schoolchildren and members of the local community to find out more about its history.
The CAER Heritage Project, led by the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, aims to engage the Ely and Caerau community in excavating and exploring the hillfort to build a detailed picture of the history of this area.
Set within local housing estates, the hillfort is one of the largest and most impressive in south-east Wales, and was once a powerful stronghold of the Iron Age Silurian tribe, who inhabited this part of Wales before the arrival of the Romans. Today, the magnificent ramparts are hidden beneath trees, but the old parish church, St. Mary’s, and a small ringwork, almost certainly the site of a medieval castle, stand within the hillfort on the north-eastern side.
90 children from three participating local schools - Fitzalan, Mary Immaculate High and Glyn Derw – spent a week at the site taking part in a range of activities from Iron Age pottery workshops to archaeology themed eco-graffiti art and artefact analysis. They also undertook credible archaeological research through geophysical surveys of the site.
They were joined by more than 150 members of the local community who came to the hillfort to help with the archaeological activities and share their stories of the site.
The project, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is being coordinated jointly by Dr Oliver Davis and Dr Dave Wyatt and from the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.
Dr Davis said: "The CAER Heritage Project will help the people of Caerau and Ely to connect the past to the present, making the heritage of the district relevant and important for contemporary communities. We hope the project will create a heightened sense of place for the people of these areas as well as developing educational opportunities and challenging some unfounded stereotypes often ascribed to this part of Cardiff."
Dr Wyatt added: "From the outset, local schools and communities have been involved in the project and are helping answer important research questions about this hugely significant, but under-researched, hillfort. Through their work, the Caerau hillfort will become a valuable local and national resource for leisure and learning activities."
Following their time at the hillfort the pupils of Fitzalan, Mary Immaculate High and Glyn Derw will produce a display showcasing their work and findings, to be exhibited at the National Museum of Wales St Fagans and The Cardiff Story Museum in the summer.
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