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Community heritage project goes from strength-to-strength

17 October 2023

Mid shot man smiling at camera with archaeological dig in the background
Students and volunteers are working with archaeologists on the four-week dig. Pic credit: Oliver Davis

A community project that has inspired residents to investigate the 6,000 years of history on their doorsteps has received a funding boost.

The Caerau and Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project is a partnership between Cardiff University, Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE), local schools, residents and heritage partners. It is centred around Caerau Hillfort, a heritage site of national significance.

In recent years the project has received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to build a community CAER heritage centre. A range of other activities include archaeological digs at nearby Trelai Park, which uncovered what is believed to be the oldest house in Cardiff, as well as a number of well-preserved artefacts. Other successes linked to the project include a number of University scholarships and pathways into higher education.

To build on this success and ensure sustainability beyond the National Lottery funding, Cardiff University has made a further commitment to the project to create two full-time jobs based in the heart of Caerau at the CAER Centre , with a community partnership manager and centre development manager working to nurture new and existing initiatives for the benefit of the community.

Michelle Powell of community development organisation ACE said: “This is such good news for both ACE, the CAER project and our communities. Our partnership with Cardiff University is so valuable, it is built on long term relationships and trust built up over many years that have allowed us to achieve amazing things - bringing the University into the heart of these communities for the benefit of all. These new full-time roles will enable us to establish the CAER Centre as a hub for learning and discovery, opening up new opportunities for people of all ages while building and developing new partnerships.”

Scott Bees, 34, is a second year student on the BSc Ancient History and Archaeology Course. A former postman, he decided to pursue a degree after receiving a CAER Heritage bursary to complete the University’s Exploring the Past pathway programme.

He said: “The heritage of our area means a lot to the community and has been a huge success in bringing everyone together. The CAER project has given us so much information about our history and where we come from but there is still so much that is untold. It’s really exciting to think about where the project will go from here.”

CAER Project co-director Dr David Wyatt said: “This significant commitment from Cardiff University to our project’s future is fantastic news for the community and testament to what residents and community workers have achieved since the project kicked off in 2011. The scale and scope of CAER has flourished thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of the people of Caerau and Ely. To find an area with such an incredibly rich heritage is rare; but what’s rarer is to find a community so passionate about using that history as a means of driving positive change and creating new opportunities in the present.”

CAER Project co-director Dr Oliver Davis added: “So many people have been inspired to go into further and higher education after engaging with the project. Countless initiatives such as exhibitions and creative activities have raised the profile of the area, showcasing its incredible potential. On top of that, we’ve made some exciting discoveries that are having a real impact on academic research and our understanding of the history of South Wales. I can’t wait to see what is achieved next.”

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