Careau and Ely Rediscovering Heritage Project (CAER Heritage Project)

Cardiff University


The CAER Heritage Project, led by the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, aims to engage Cardiff's Ely and Caerau communities in excavating and exploring an un-researched Iron-Age hillfort, building a detailed picture of the history of this area.

Set within local social housing estates, Caerau 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.

The CAER project involves community members and pupils from local schools - Fitzalan, Mary Immaculate High and Glyn Derw – in a range of activities from Iron Age pottery workshops to archaeology themed eco-graffiti art  and artefact analysis. Community members have also been directly involved in archaeological research undertaking a geophysical survey of the site and participating in a televised excavation in conjunction with Channel 4’s Timeteam.

Dr Olly Davis co-director: “We hope that 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 Dave Wyatt co-director: “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 are currently producing a display show-casing their work and findings, to be exhibited at the National Museum of Wales St Fagans and The Cardiff Story Museum in the summer 2012. A range of ‘spin-off’ projects/activities are also planned for the forthcoming year including a collection of myths/folk memories of the site and an accredited course in archaeology for adult learners, further excavations are planned for 2013.