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School award-winners take centre stage at national engagement conference

10 December 2015

Community engagement
Community members at a CAER Heritage Project event

Leading members of the award-winning CAER Heritage Project addressed colleagues leading engagement in Higher Education across the UK at Engage 2015 this month.

The CAER Heritage Project explores the history and archaeology of the Cardiff suburbs of Caerau and Ely from prehistory through to the modern day, helping to connect communities with their heritage and develop educational opportunities.

The project took the award for best engagement project in the UK against 230 entries at the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) awards last year.

Academic lead Dr Dave Wyatt, project artist Paul Evans and film maker Viv Thomas represented the project at the NCCPE annual conference in Bristol at the beginning of December. They were interviewed about the difference the award has made to the project in front of delegates from across the UK.

Community and Engagement co-ordinator for Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Dr Wyatt said: ‘Winning the NCCPE Engage competition in 2014 was a real game-changer for the CAER Heritage project. The recognition it brought has undoubtedly helped us with securing further successful funding bids, allowing us and the communities we work with to further explore Caerau and Ely's rich heritage. Most importantly of all, though, it has provided positive feedback and a positive story for the communities and schools of Caerau and Ely, with whom we have such a close partnership.”      

Caerau hillfort was the major power centre for the entire Cardiff region in the Iron Age and is one of the largest and most impressive hillforts in south-east Wales.  During the Medieval period a ringwork and church (St Mary’s) were built within the ancient Iron Age boundaries and their impressive remains can still be seen today.

Recent community excavations run by the CAER Heritage Project have revealed further evidence of earlier settlement in the Neolithic period, showing communities have existed there for thousands of years.

The annual Engage conference teases out the dynamic relationship between engagement and impact, exploring ways in which researchers can involve people from outside academia in conceiving, shaping, producing and applying their research. As part of the conference, excerpts from the CAER Hedz animation film created by Paul Evans, film maker Jon Harrison and pupils from Michaelston Community College were screened.

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