New learning opportunities for CAER Heritage Project

4 September 2018

Oliver Davis

Cardiff University has reinforced its commitment to a heritage project in a south-Wales community facing social and economic challenges, with a series of new educational opportunities.

The Caerau And Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project is a collaborative project between Cardiff University, community development organisation Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE) and local schools and residents. The project is based around one of Cardiff’s most important, but little-known, archaeological sites, Caerau Iron Age hillfort. It involves local people of all ages in creating new knowledge about their shared history while helping to challenge some significant social and economic challenges faced by their communities in the present.

Through a new five-year funding deal, from 2019, both school pupils and adults from the community will be able to apply for a number of scholarships at the University. Pupils from Cardiff West Community High school will be able to apply for four degree scholarships and there will be eight adult learner scholarships providing accessible progression opportunities onto degrees through Cardiff University’s Pathways to a Degree initiative

Dr Oliver Davis, of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, has recently been appointed as the project’s archaeological and project director, a five-year post. He will be responsible for creating new life opportunities for local people through the exploration of heritage. He will work closely with community groups and schools from the area, as well as bidding for further funding to improve infrastructure and interpretation at Caerau hillfort.

CAER site

The project is already through to the second stage in the process of applying for Heritage Lottery funding, which, if successful, will be used to develop the area into a fully functioning, community-run attraction. Plans include the redevelopment of the old Gospel Hall on Church Road into a community heritage centre, the creation of a network of trails around Caerau Hillfort and the consolidation of the ruins of St Mary’s Church.

The close partnership fostered with Cardiff West Community High will also see a dedicated CAER Heritage room in their new £30m new build school to be opened in 2019. This enables university research and learning activities to be taken directly into a secondary school classroom setting, thereby breaking down barriers to progression into higher education. Dr Davis will be working closely with local primary schools to develop lessons that take in the rich history and archaeology of the local area.

Dr Davis, who co-founded the CAER Heritage project in 2011, said: “We are at a very exciting stage and have come a long way since the early days. The community should be proud of what they’ve achieved so far. Through our involvement with schools and the wider community, we are already showing how the process of research can help provide learning opportunities and pathways that take people to university and beyond.

The University’s investment in the project follows on from six years of successful partnership building and innovative archaeological and historical initiatives which have been recognised by a number of UK awards, most recently at the Times Higher Education Awards 2017 when it won the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’ category.

Dave Horton, ACE Development Manager, said: “The community of Caerau and Ely has a huge amount going for it, not least a considerable sense of local pride and community spirit along with some extraordinary heritage sites and associated history. The CAER Heritage Project has been extremely successful in uniting these two factors to create new opportunities and to put heritage at the centre of local community development.

“ACE's partnership with Cardiff University continues to bear fruit and has led to these really exciting plans for the future.  The university's commitment to fund the Archaeological and Project Director post for five years, along with the very significant investment in scholarships for local adults and young people, brings us a huge step closer to making these dreams a reality and will ensure that opportunities for local learning remain central to the project.”

As part of its civic mission, Cardiff University is committed to working with communities to promote social cohesion and improve levels of health, wealth and well-being.

More information about the scholarships will be released later in the autumn. To find out more about the CAER project, go to: https://caerheritageproject.com/