Forging Communities Past and Present
7 February 2013
Two new projects based around one of Cardiff's most important, but little-known, archaeological sites, Caerau Iron Age hillfort, will engage local people and school children in their history and help challenge marginalisation.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Digging Caerauand HEART of Cardiff projects will be led by the School of History, Archaeology and Religion and based in the suburbs of Caerau and Ely – areas that face significant social and economic problems.
Both projects build on the success of the School's recent CAER Heritage Project initiatives which have brought together schoolchildren and members of the Ely and Caerau communities to find out more about their shared past. Highlights to date have included an exhibition designed by local schoolchildren at St Fagans National History Museum and the participation of local residents and pupils in a recently televised excavation at the site by Time Team.
The Digging Caerau project will involvelocal residents and pupils in further major archaeological excavations at the hillfort. It will also provide them with opportunities to get involved in the reconstruction of a new Iron Age Village at St Fagans, learning a range of new skills along the way.
In conjunction with Digging Caerau, The HEART of Cardiff project, run in partnership with community organisation Action in Caerau and Ely, will establish a circular heritage trail connecting the Caerau hillfort to St Fagans National History Museum. The trail will be researched and created by local residents and young people and punctuated by heritage-themed artwork designed by them. It will be supported by a digital resource, taking in all periods of the area's fascinating history, further helping local communities to connect with their past and placing the heritage of Caerau and Ely at the heart of West Cardiff.
Dr Dave Wyatt and Dr Oliver Davis of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion are joint directors of the projects. Dr Davis said: "Digging Caerauand HEART of Cardiff will give local people the chance to work closely with academic researchers, University students and heritage management experts to learn about and research the fascinating multi-period heritage of the area. They will discover how they can preserve and enhance that heritage - strengthening bonds of community and acquiring new skills and confidence in the process."
Dr Wyatt added: "We hope these projects will create a lasting legacy which will invest local young people in their heritage, providing them with a powerful sense of the importance of their 'home turf' and encouraging people from outside of Caerau and Ely to visit, rather than avoid, this vibrant area of Cardiff."
An exhibition produced by local school children involved in the CAER Heritage Project is on show at the Cardiff Story Museum in the Hayes area of the city from 7th February – 6th March 2013.
It was officially opened by the Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis AM, who said: "I am delighted to launch the opening of this exhibition, and hope that it motivates and inspires others to consider similar projects within their communities. We all know that archaeology can be very exciting, but this is not just about excavating and understanding the archaeology of a hillfort. It is about using archaeology as a way to rehabilitate community identity and self-confidence, and for that, I commend all involved."