Digging Communities | Connected Communities Festival Part I: The Virtual Trench

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Every project has its star …

In the first of three blog posts, Caer Heritage Project Lead Artist Paul Evans looks back on three creative projects that he was involved in co-curating for the AHRC Connected Communities Festival 2014. 

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Connected Communities Festival 2014 took place on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd July. Although based at St David’s Hall, Cardiff Bay and Motorpoint Arena, the festival included a number of off-site events and activities – not least of which was another amazing archaeological dig that took place during the festival at Caerau hill fort. Our challenge was to bring elements of the experience of the dig down to the bay – to create a ‘Virtual Dig’.

The virtual dig, which was created and designed in collaboration with Chopshop consisted of a fairly imposing structure that bore a graphic timeline of events around its outer surface:

The Virtual Dig at St David's, Cardiff Bay

The Virtual Dig at St David’s, Cardiff Bay

This structure formed a customised projection booth, within which we projected footage real-time from the Caerau dig as was it taking place on the hill fort:

Footage from the dig taking place at Caerau is projected inside The Virtual Dig ...

Footage from the dig taking place at Caerau is projected inside The Virtual Dig …

Visitors to the festival were encouraged to ‘excavate’ the ‘Virtual Trench’ and, under the guidance of CAER Heritage Project archaeologists and community volunteers, use genuine tools and specialised techniques to uncover real finds from the real dig.

Special screening of the 'Caeraustock' short films ..

Special screening of the ‘Caeraustock’ short films ..

A special screening of the ‘Caeraustock’ short films – created by local cameraman Viv Thomas and LightTrap films with Michaelston College added a further layer of visual depth and interaction to the installation. A video of CAER Heritage Project Director Dr David Wyatt discussing the Virtual Trench can be viewed here.

Many thanks to Ian Gracey for invaluable assistance with transport and construction of The Virtual Trench and Paul Kemble and our student helpers: Penni Bestic, Heather Crowley, Cath Horler-Underwood, Melissa Julian Jones, and Aron Williams for welcoming visitors to stand over the duration of the festival.

 

A visit to Caerau – On Shared Ground – 16th-19th July 2014

Read on for a fantastic new blog about a project to link the sites of Caerau, Cardiff and Wincobank, Sheffield…

As Friends of Wincobank Hill we were intrigued by the On Shared Ground initiative.

We knew that very few hillforts have survived in urban areas for obvious reasons and felt a link with the similarly placed sites in Cardiff and Aberdeen and had met with some of the people from Caerau when they came to Wincobank. We hope sometime to have the opportunity to visit the hillfort on Bennachie near Aberdeen too.

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Ken is very proud to get his hands on a CAER Heritage T-Shirt!

We have long been fascinated by ancient sites, for differing reasons. The link with our long-ago ancestors and the ways they expressed and satisfied their human needs and desires and the search for knowledge and understanding about the world and their own place in it,sheds light on our own condition.

We found obvious similarities between Wincobank and Caerau. Immediately noticeable was the lack of local awareness, (no-one we asked could tell us how to get there), and the sound of a nearby busy road, ours being the M1- theirs the A4232. The physical locations of both hillforts are similar being on ‘Hog Back’ sandstone formations. Both hillforts overlook significant rivers: Caerau has the River Ely and Wincobank has the mighty Don! Both leading eventually to the sea and navigable in earlier times.

Seeing how much of a long, detailed history of settlement has become evident through the finds from the two archaeological digs at Caerau, from the neolithic age to the present day has opened our eyes to the possible long history of settlement on the wider reaches of Wincobank Hill. Evidence of this is now, sadly, probably lost through urban development and the covering up by council rubbish dumps, making   allotments and playing fields over what old maps indicated was an “ Ancient Settlement”. People have living memory of cottages and of Wincobank Hall – a meeting place for famous activists in the anti- slavery and social reform movement: as valuable a history as any other.

It was of great interest to actually witness the finding of relics from the past and to realise the significance of different layers and colours of soil through talking to the archaeology students on the dig,and to see the involvement of local schoolchildren. We were able to handle some recent finds, a piece of a pottery bowl from the neolithic period and an axe head ,and to marvel at the careful decoration on a household pot from the first century BC. Arrowheads and flint scrapers from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages are constantly turning up plus a medieval arrowhead and a lead musket ball from c.1700AD.

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Ken and Hil watch the first showing of the On Shared Ground film by artist Paul Evans

Whilst we were there a new stone- based road was uncovered that looked as though it was leading along one edge of the site towards the church or possibly a strengthening of the outer edge of the hillfort. The evidence of Caerau being an ancient sacred site include a recent find of a small lead curse roll only found in Roman temples and the medieval church, used up till the1970’s. This is typical of how people have regarded the significance of high places since the earliest of times. Although our chapel does not fulfil this criteria, not being placed on the top of the hill, it is highly likely that were we able to look for it, evidence of this kind of activity would be found. Joseph Hunter, a Sheffield   archaeologist, ‘ gave an account of round ‘tumuli’ situated close to the hillfort at Wincobank until the late 18th century. These features resembled ‘barrows ‘that Hunter had observed at other sites and comprised ‘two or three round tumuli….near the summit , and therefore near the great earthwork’. (Gatty 1869,24). (Copied from the desk-based assessment -ArcHeritage Project No.5462).

We visited Tinkinswood and St. Lythan’s chambered tombs built c.3,700BC. situated within a few miles of the Caerau site. Here, for the first time, we came across two sturdy metal devices that enclosed recorded information about the tombs that could be accessed through turning a handle This seemed an interesting and weather-proof way of communicating with visitors.

As a look-out post, a defensible space, a statement of ownership, a focal gathering place for the community and a site of liminal significance, both hillforts are superbly placed They were a supremely important for these reasons in the past and their value should be recognised giving the areas around a meaning for the the widest community that they may have been felt to lack. Friends of Wincobank Hill have joined with the On Shared Ground project in recording local people’s memories and feelings about the hill. This will be a valuable and more recent resource for conserving its long, fascinating history and perhaps helping people’s perception of these spaces to evolve constructively. Involving the local schools in the ways that we at Wincobank are doing, and what we saw at Caerau on our visit, may be a means of ensuring that there will be no further erosion of the integrity of these sites by highlighting their significance within the community and beyond.

Ken and Hilary Allen

Finding Caerau – Part Two

The Case of the Missing Mountain: CHP Historian Mel Julian-Jones continues her search for the origins of Caerau…

Now armed with the knowledge that we might have a different name to search for – Cairdwygil, and variant spellings thereof – the search for Caerau continues through the Middle Ages. Now we hit some real problems.

The rate of survival for the acta and letters of the bishops of Llandaff is not ideal. Only three definite acts of Bishop Uhtred survive, although Uhtred was bishop for about ten years. Bishop Nicholas’s average is a little under one surviving act per year, and remains on average one per year until the time of Bishop William de Braose, when the average survival is one act for every four years. Bear in mind that a bishop would be almost constantly dealing with administration and sending letters, dealing with problems, and writing to his various churches throughout each year of his episcopate. For example, there are 219 acts surviving for Bishop Robert Chesney of Lincoln, and only 30 for Bishop Nicholas. In fact, the 219 acts of Bishop Robert are just under double the total number of surviving acts for Llandaff from 1140-1287. The statistical chances of finding an act specifically relating to Caerau or Caerdwygil are tiny. And, in fact, there isn’t one. Not a single one. We have no idea how many acts there were to begin with, so we don’t know exactly how many we’ve lost – but it could be anything from 85-99% of them. So more than likely all the acts relating to Caerau or Caerdwygil are in that missing proportion of acts. And that doesn’t help us AT ALL. Depressingly, Llandaff acta have a pretty good rate of survival for a Welsh diocese – far better than St David’s! [See, Llandaff Episcopal Acta 1140-1287, ed. David Crouch, (Cardiff, 1988), pp. xxxii-xxxiii].

Papal Bulls for 1119 (Pope Calixtus II), and the bulls of Pope Honorius II for 1128 and 1129 all confirm the villam of ‘Cairduicil’ with its chapel to the diocese of Llandaff, but after 1129 there is no further reference to this name. The official switch from its ancient name of ‘Dinduicil’ to ‘Cairduicil’ was not the last name-change it went through – at some point in the twelfth century the name shortened to ‘Caer’ and became ‘Caerau’ to reflect the presence of a second fortification. This could have happened unofficially and naturally in the vernacular or oral culture of the area prior to 1128 or 1119, of course, as the pope was unlikely to know himself the current local names of various places, and the Bulls simply copy the list of original (and in this case, ninth century) place names which Llandaff had provided. The change from ‘Cairduicil’ to variant spellings of the modern-day ‘Caerau’ only reflects the shift in what people were calling it, rather than officially marking the change. An undated thirteenth century charter of Caradoc, son of Gruffudd Began, grants land in ‘Lan Leuder near Caerau’ to Walter de Regny. [See, Cartae et Munimenta de Glamorgan, vol. III, 1271-1331, ed. G. T. Clark, (Cardiff, 1910), pp. 755-56]. The Latin reads, …et alterum capud tnedit se ad metas de la KAYRE …, but the geographical identifier ‘Began’ and the presence of Robert de Sumery, William de Barri the younger and Elias of St Michael on the witness list puts it in the Cardiff area and implies that this is indeed our Caerau. The next charter in the collection is one of Pagan de Regny granting a meadow in Papelmore (Dinas Powys) to Walter de Regny, which again would place the gift of lands near Kayre as being near Caerau. [See, Cartae et Munimenta de Glamorgan, vol. III, 1271-1331, ed. G. T. Clark, (Cardiff, 1910), p. 756].

Map of Cardiff in 1840 showing various placenames. Map from Cardiff Library Collection

Map of Cardiff in 1840 showing various placenames. Map from Cardiff Library Collection

Interestingly, from c.1196, a family bearing the locative(?) surname ‘Kairus’ or ‘Cairus’ is to be found in Glamorgan. It is unclear whether this is a locative or not, as it lacks the ‘de’ (meaning ‘of’, typical in locative surnames) and if it is, there are so many caerau to which it might refer that the name itself is not that helpful or defining. However, it is likely to be a locative surname because Caerau and Caer are Welsh terms, and the first names of these men are John and Milo, typical Norman or ‘Anglo-Norman’ names. What is more, they are likely to be middling knights, probably not important enough to have their own coat of arms, but they do seem to have their own seals, which they used to authenticate their gifts to Margam abbey [See, Cartae et Munimenta de Glamorgan, vol. II, 1196-1270, ed. G. T. Clark, (Cardiff, 1910), p. 432). Milo’s seal is a round seal in red wax, 1.5 in. in diameter, and shows a fleur-de-lis of elaborate design. Fleurs-de-lys were quite common symbols to use on seals, and there are several examples of South-Eastern Marchers under Gilbert de Clare’s lordship using such a device around this time, including William Cantilupe of Merthyr Mawr, and William de Sumery [See, NLW_PM 2050]. The land given to Margam was near Swansea rather than Cardiff, however, which leads me to suspect that they are from a different Caer, perhaps the Caer found in the Gower. However, the witnesses to the charters may shed light on the personal networks of these men, and they do seem to indicate a connection with our area of interest.

Firstly, the original charter to Margam Abbey was for a pasture, but in the time of Bishop Henry (1193-1218) the original grant was in dispute [See, Cartae et Munimenta de Glamorgan, vol. I, 447-1218, ed. G. T. Clark, (Cardiff, 1910), pp. 214-15]. John had long ago conceded the pasture to the monks because of a great offence (unspecified in the grant) that he and his son Milo had caused them. So as not to trouble the monks unjustly, John surrendered the pasture to the monks in this grant, and his son Milo swore an oath, touching holy relics in front of the bishop, that he would be ever faithful and obedient to the monks in all things and warrant the pasture against everyone with all his power [See, Llandaff Episcopal Acta 1140-1287, ed. David Crouch, (Cardiff, 1988), p. 45]. The actual date of this dispute is probably sometime in the 1190s, certainly before 1200, when Milo is found quitclaiming the land to the monks [See, NLW_291]. Milo is here named Milo de Penvey – it specifically states that his father was John Kairus. On the same roll, which covers 1200×1275, Milo de Penvey’s nephew Milo son of ‘Cadivor’ (a Welshman whose name has been Latinized by the scribe, one would assume) also gives or confirms lands to Margam, which includes the lands ‘his grandfather, John Kairus, gave to the monks’. Penvey is Pen-y-Fai, near modern-day Bridgend, and so it is more likely that John Kairus or Kayrus came from a nearer ‘Caer’, and is unconnected with the hillfort. However, Milo de Penvey’s grant is witnessed by Elias Fleming and his brother William Fleming, members of the same family who were lords of Michaelstone-super-Ely in the fourteenth century, as well as lords of St George’s and Wenvoe, which is an interesting connection in our context. Added to this, we are also told in Milo de Pevney’s confirmation that the land John Kairus gave to Margam bordered lands belonging to Herbert Scurlag, whose family did have lands in the county of Cardiff as well as the fee of Langewi (Llangyfelach) in the Swansea area [See, Cartae et Munimenta de Glamorgan, vol. II, 1196-1270, ed. G. T. Clark, (Cardiff, 1910), pp. 432-33]. Sadly, without a surviving inquisition post mortem detailing the lands in Milo or John’s possession when they died, we are unable to tell if they too had any lands in the Cardiff area as well as around Bridgend – but given the (albeit slim) evidence of personal connections with families in the right area, it is not inconceivable. However, I will still tentatively suggest that this is not the right family, particularly as my own research into family strategy indicates that families who ‘spiritually invested’ by granting lands to the church tended only to give to churches and foundations with strong connections to their power centres – which in this case seems to be the Bridgend/Pen-y-fai area, and not Caerau or the county of Cardiff. Nevertheless, I will keep them in mind and continue to look them up in the records as a possibility, just to be sure.

This deceptive little rabbit hole aside, we find much firmer ground with the various taxation records for the thirteenth century. Here, Caerau is certainly a prebend of Llandaff, and an important one at that.

The Synodal Rating of the Churches in the Deanaries of Llandaff offers an interesting insight into the relative status of Caerau as a prebend of Llandaff. Caerau is the second prebend to be listed in Calendar or Register of the tenth collection of tax to the work of the Pope or King of England of individual churches in the diocese of Llandaff whose amount exceeded the sum of six marks [See, Cartae et Munimenta de Glamorgan, vol. III, 1271-1331, ed. G. T. Clark, (Cardiff, 1910), p. 944]. The first of the prebends listed is that of St Andrew’s, 6s. and 5d. over the amount; Caerau, listed next as Prebenda de KAYR cum capell’, is 14s. 8d. over. The first church listed is Llanririd. The churches of Peterston with its chapel, St George’s and St Fagans follow it in that order, each being varying amounts over the six marks. The list appears to be typically compiled in terms of status rather than value or geographical or alphabetical order. The temporalities of the bishop are at the top of the list, followed by the Chapter, the Archdeaconate, the Precentor, the Treasurer, and the Chancellor, with the prebends following, then the churches, then the vicarages. [See, Cartae et Munimenta de Glamorgan, vol. III, 1271-1331, ed. G. T. Clark, (Cardiff, 1910), p. 944].

Being valued in the papal tax of 1291 at £4 is fairly significant, too – that’s the rough equivalent of around £2,000 today. That was more than a craftsman in the building trade earned in a year, even if he worked solidly for the full 365 days and took no Sundays or holy days off. In fact, in 1291, £4 would buy you roughly 400 working days of a craftsman’s time. [See The National Archives Currency Converter Tool, http://apps.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency/].

But this is information we already know – I’m just as interested in the reference to the chapel here. Note that ‘chapel’ is not necessarily referring to the church – a chapel was set up for perpetual memorial of someone and their spouse, heirs and/or ancestors, and provided for in the founder’s will to support priests or chaplains whose task was to say mass for those souls in perpetual memoriam. Private manorial chapels were set up within the manors of the affluent laity, so that they did not necessarily need to worship in the parish churches. William (II) de Cantilupe established a chapel at his manor of Eyton in Bedfordshire, for example, as part of his lavish and impressive additions in the 1240s. So who was the chapel at Caerau founded by, and who was it for?

Sadly, this is probably something we may not find out. I’d like to look more closely at the ecclesiastic angle as far as possible, but I also want to delve further into the personal aspect of Caerau as a place – who was living here, working here, and worshipping here? Sadly, because it was a possession of Llandaff and the patchy nature of surviving sources has already been explained, it may be impossible to look at individuals at Caerau in this way. On the other hand, the nearby village of Michaelston-super-Ely was in the hands of several Marcher families throughout the period, and it is possible to look at those families and to get a picture of their personal networks throughout the area and beyond. As the CAER Heritage Project is seeking to expand into researching this deserted village, as well as the Caerau ringwork, I will be looking further into this as the research progresses. I would love to be able to build up pictures of the medieval men and women who were once familiar and powerful figures in the area, and reintroduce them to modern-day residents as part of the rich tapestry of local stories and heritage this part of Cardiff has to offer.

Finding Caerau – Part One

Ever wondered how Caerau got its name? CHP Historian Mel Julian-Jones explores some possibilities, with remarkable results…

As a Medievalist specialising in the thirteenth century, I was very excited to be asked to research the medieval life of Caerau for the CAER Heritage Project. The gaps in the documents for Caerau have long been remarked on, but this seemed a little suspicious to me. It seems that the earliest mention anyone can find is in the Iolo Manuscripts, which were largely forged or tampered with by Iolo Morgannwg, a poet, historian and resurrector of the Bards, in the nineteenth century. He is the one who claims that,

“Gweirydd, the son of Brochfael, was a wise, but unfortunate king; for diseases and rough ungenial seasons had greatly damaged the country; being the calamitous consequences of wickedness that occured in his age ; and which emanated from a prevalent recourse to depravity, illegality, and impious abominations. He built the church of Llanweirydd, which is called now, — Y Caerau [The Fortifications,] where he had a mansion, although he held his court at Cardiff”. – See, Iolo Morganwg, Iolo Manuscripts, A Selection of Ancient Welsh Manuscripts, in Prose and Verse, from the Collection Made by the Late Edward Williams, Iolo Morganwg, for the Purpose of Forming a Continuation of the Myfyrian Archaiology; and Subsequently Proposed as Materials for a New History of Wales, (Llandovery, 1848), pp. 305-6

Well, this would be a great tale, except that after this there is no reference to “Y Caerau” at all until the papal taxation of 1291, where the church is valued at £4. In today’s money, that’s over £2,000.

So what is going on in this gap between Gweirydd’s time (AD 670) and 1291, which is, incidentally, about six hundred years? Why would a place as big as Caerau just drop off the radar for six centuries and never be mentioned again? This didn’t ring true for me, so I began to wonder when ‘Caerau’ got to be called ‘Caerau’ in the first place. So I checked – and everyone is in agreement that “Caerau” was always just called “Caerau”. And what do they use as a reference? The Iolo Manuscripts, published in 1848. After some exhausting digging, I came to realise that we only have Iolo Morgganwg’s word for it. And everyone who came after him thought he was right, because they assumed the list of Glamorgan kings he provided was genuine.

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The spire of Llandaff Cathedral can be clearly seen from St Mary’s (back left)

My problem was, would something like Caerau, an ancient and well established fort that towers over its surroundings and, we have discovered, was first used over 6,000 years ago by the first farmers of Britain, and seemingly constantly settled since, just have been called “The Fortifications”? Why is it plural when multiple ramparts only make up one fort? Multiple ramparts, yes, but it is technically only one fortification. The second fortification that changed the name from Caer (sg) to Caerau (pl) was surely the ringwork, set within the ramparts, the second fortification. By this logic, it could not have been called Y Gaerau or Caerau before the construction of the second fortification on that site, which means that it must have been known by another name before the twelfth century.

Looking through the records, in particular the Liber Landavensis, also known as the Book of Llandaf, made me more convinced that this was indeed the case. The book contains charters and grants made to Llandaff Cathedral, not all of them ‘real’ in the sense that they were made at the time the church acquired these lands, but all of them written for the purpose of proving what the church should have in terms of lands and ancient rights there. Some were made at a time before such grants were written down, when only verbal agreement and ritual action was required for making such a grant, and so the bishop and chapter in the later centuries were left without proof that their ancient rights to certain places should be continuously upheld. Consequently, they created charters detailing these rights, based on tradition and communal memory, in the standard form of charters made in their own day, complete with witness lists of bishops and kings long dead. These charters, while being technically ‘forgeries’, are nonetheless exceptionally useful to us as they show everything that Llandaff claimed to have, and was determined to hold onto when threatened by secular lords and the rights of other dioceses. There is no reference whatever in the Liber Landavensis (hereafter known as LL) to Caerau, or any variant spelling thereof. Considering that you can see Caerau hillfort from Llandaff cathedral, and that it was definitely a chapel of Llandaff and a prebend, this omission is more than bizarre, it’s unbelievable.

Several places in the LL are unidentified, so it is altogether possible that the Caerau’s original name is hidden among them somewhere. Two contenders revealed themselves after lengthy discussions with Dr Diane Brook and Dr Dylan Foster-Evans – the first I have dismissed, and the second seems the most likely.

Contender 1: Caer Riou

Why Caer Riou?

“Caer Riou”, which also appears as Cariou, was potentially identified in 1874 as ‘Caerau ger Caerdydd’, Caerau near Cardiff, in the article MEDDIANNAU EGLWYS LLOEGR. [See the Welsh journal, Yr Haul, Cyf. 18 Rhif. 208, (Ebrill 1874), pp. 143-144, available online through the Welsh National Library, www.llgc.org.uk]

What is said about Caer Riou?

The LL entry is as follows (p. 200 of the William J. Rees edn.):

“Athrius Rex, Fernuail filius, immolavit Cair Riou cum uncia agri, Deo, et Sanctus Dubricio, Teliauo, et Oudoceo, et in manu Catguareti Episcopi, et omnibus episcopus Landaviae, cum sua tota libertate in perpetuo; et Leubrit haereditarius accepit agrum a Catguareti Episcopo, et a Landaviae clero, daturus eis omni anno sex modios cervisiae, cum omni suo debito in pane et in carne, et cum sextario mellis, et ad voluntatum episcope quamdiu sibi placaret, et suo capitulo, quietam ab illo clamabat, et a prole sua in perpetuo”. [Followed by a witness list].

Here is a grant given by king Arthur (Latin name) or Athrwys (Welsh name) of Gwent to Llandaff cathedral, of Caer Riou, where ‘Leubrit’ (Welsh name: Lleufryd) was the hereditary officer in charge of the estate. He remained in this position despite the change of ownership, and remained answerable to king Athrwys. The renders for the land were to be six measures of ale and a sester of honey, with all that was owed in bread and in meat, each year. Collecting this and sorting out exchanges (if there was not enough ale brewed one year, a peasant on that land may request to give the equivalent in wheat instead, for example) was Lleufryd’s job.

In his new book, Prof. T. M. Charles-Edwards discusses the hereditary position of Lleufryd [Leubrit], whose responsibility it was to collect the renders of honey (mellis), bread (pane), ale (cervisiae) and meat (carne) in exchange for the perpetual grant of the estate to the bishop and chapter of Llandaff. He doesn’t suggest a location for Cair Riou, but does explore the legal aspects of the grant. See, T. M. Charles-Edwards, Wales and the Britons, 350-1064, (Oxford, 2013), pp. 312-313.

Is it Caerau?

No. Cair Riou or Caiir Riou or Cariou or even Cariow, as it is variously known, was identified as Chapel Farm near Monmouth by Ebenezer Thomas Davies in 1953. See, An Ecclesiastic History of Monmouthshire, Issue 1, p. 57. Since it was given to Llandaff by one of the kings of Gwent, it’s very unlikely to be located near Cardiff in Glamorgan. The author of MEDDIANNAU EGLWYS LLOEGR was probably led astray by the spelling of Cariou, and assumed that it was intended to be ‘Caerau’, because Iolo Morgannwg had used this name in the Iolo Manuscripts. The boundaries listed in charter 210 clearly indicate that it is somewhere between Crofft Hîr Brook and the Llymon, which is nowhere near our Caerau. Additionally, Jonathan Baron Coe in his 2001 thesis on the place names of Llandaff suggests that the elements of the name are caer + a personal name, such as the plural of Rhi, but suggests that the name ‘Cariow’ in the body of the charter leaves (marginal) room for doubt that the name comes from the caer element at all. [See, Jonathan Baron Coe, The Place-Names of the Book of Llandaf, PhD Thesis Submitted for Examination in the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, (August, 2001), p. 123].

Contender 2: Cairduicil

Why Cairduicil?

Cairduicil [Caerduicil], also known as Dinduicil, is a very strong contender. For a start, it is unidentified, so this gives it the room to be Caerau. Also, we know that Caerau hillfort had been used and settled for thousands of years, so the archaic ‘din’ makes a lot of sense. ‘Din’ and ‘Caer’ basically meant the same or similar thing – a hillfort, or fort/encampment. You can see it in names like Dinas Powys, for example. In South Wales around the ninth century, the word ‘caer’ was beginning to replace ‘din’, so the fact that it has an older version of the name being used interchangeably fits with the age of the fortified settlement. D. Huw Owen suggests that, “… consistency in the use of particular words to signify particular types of monuments, such as W caer or dinas, is not to be expected.” – See, D. Huw Owen, Settlement and Society in Wales, (University of Chicago Press, 1989), p. 83.

What is harder to ascertain is what ‘Cairduicil’ means. Cair = caer, but the second element is not immediately obvious, which isn’t helped by the Monasticon Anglicanum, which renders it Cair Dui Cil, as if these three elements are separate.

The ‘cil’ element can mean ‘source’ (of a river or spring) and ‘dui’ might be an archaic misspelling of ‘Duw’, so it would be the Fort of the Holy Spring, which makes sense as there is a spring near the site of the church, and a possible holy well on the site. However, in Welsh, the ‘cil’ element always comes first, not last. It is more likely to be Caer+dwygil, which would mean Fort of Two Corners, which would make sense as the archaeology suggests the western end of the three-cornered site was not settled but used for some other purpose, and we have two known entrances, which could be what the name gives reference to. This is supported by the 1874 Yr Haul article which wrongly located Cair Riou as Caerau, saying, Egistil, yn amser Nudd, a roddodd i’r Eglwys le a elwir Cairduicil (Caerdwygil, dinas dwy onglog). [Egistil in the time of Nudd, gave Cairduicil to the church – Caerdwygil, the city of two corners]. Since the author has already made a mistake in this article, corroboration is necessary to support this suggestion.

What is said about Cairduicil?

Here is the full context of that reference in the Mon. Ang. p. 1223:

PATER et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus, tres in personis, unus in deitate et substantia inspiravit, per gratiam ipsius, et causa salutis suze creaturw, factae ad imaginem et ad si militudinem sui, cor lapideum Engestil, cujusdam divitis, jacentis in infirmitate et pondere peccatorum, et conversus Engistil ad Dominum, acceptfi sibi remissione peccatorum de episcopo Nud, per intecessionem sanctorum Dubricii, Te liavi, et Oudocei, largitus est in elemosina castellum Din duicil, id est Caer Duicil, cum ecclesia sua, et tribus modiis terree per circuitum arcis, supra montem, et infra montem ; et cum suis omnibus finibus undique, et cum tota sud. libertate, &c“.

This is reproduced in LL on p. 216:

Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus, tres in personis, unus in deitate, et substantia, inspiravit per gratiam ipsius, et causa salutis suae creaturae factae ad imaginem et ad similitudinem sui, cor lapideum Engistil, cujusdam divitis jacentis in infirmitate, et pondere peccatorum, et conversus Engistil ad Dominum, accepta sibi remissione peccatorum de Episcopo Nud, per intercessionem Sanctorum Dubricii, Teliaui, et Oudocei, largitus est in eleemosyna castellum Dinducill, id est, Cair Duicil, cum ecclesia sua, et tribus modiis terrae per circuitum arcis supra montem, et infra montem, et cum suis omnibus finibus undique, et cum tota sua libertate, et omni communione in campo et in silvis, in aqua et in pascuis, verbo et consensu Houel Regis, filii Ris. De Clericis, testes sunt Nud Episcopus, Bleinguid, Ruid, Guinalau, Gurgarheru; de laicis vero, Houel Rex, Engist, Sauian, Birran, Auallguid. Quicunque custodierit, benedicetur; qui vero violaverit, maledicetur“.

The charter purportedly dates from c.860, which is around the time when ‘caer’ was replacing ‘din’ in common usage in South Wales. Both versions of this charter describes the area as being the castle [castellum] of Dinduicil, which is Cairduicil, with its church, and three modiis of land around the citadel/stronghold [arcis] on top of the mountain/hill [montem], and beneath the mountain/hill. This gives the impression of a fortified settlement on top of a hill, with a church, which implies the hill is perhaps a plateau large enough to grant land both on top and below it. The LL version adds fields, woods, waters and pasture to the grant, all of which could be found in the Caerau area around the hillfort.

Jonathan Baron Coe notes that the mystery Cairduicil is mentioned alongside other places which are (or may be) located near Cardiff, and some of the witnesses of the grant are also to be found as witnesses for Cardiff area grants, so he tentatively posits somewhere near Cardiff as the possible location. [See, Jonathan Baron Coe, The Place-Names of the Book of Llandaf, PhD Thesis Submitted for Examination in the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, (August, 2001), p. 120-121].

Cairduicil is later confirmed to Llandaff in a papal bull of Calixtus II in 1119. [See, Bullaire du Papa Calixte II, Vol 1, Ulysse Robert, (New York, 1979), No. 72, [1119] p. 109].

Is it Caerau?

Very likely. It’s the most likely place, and a lot of things make sense. The topography is very like Caerau, but we need to do some more work to see where else it is mentioned and in what contexts. At least, it’s the best contender at the moment! However, even this name disappears from the records after its mention in the papal bulls of 1119. The Case of the Missing Mountain continues…Part Two coming soon!

Digging Caerau – Keith’s Blog

Read on for a great blog by Keith – a volunteer adult learner on Cardiff University’s Exploring the Past Pathway…

My week at Caerau Hillfort has come to an end. As one of the volunteer students from Exploring the Past from Cardiff University I have experienced the life of an archaeologist for a few days. During the week I spent my time in trench 3 supervised by Kelly who was always there to help and advise along with other students and volunteers. Each day new features were found. As Kelly explained to me all had to be investigated and an explanation had to be found for each feature. My first few hours on the first day was to help with mattocking , shovelling and emptying wheel barrows. You can understand why Kelly insisted on the importance of wearing steel toecap boots!

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Keith excavating his pit

During the dig light hearted banter between students took place. It was reported that one student was released from the bell tower each morning to work on the site and returned to the tower by night! Olly and Neil would walk around the site inspecting the progress of each trench and give guidance on how to proceed. With the help of other students we spent some time excavating a pit following a natural layer of green clay which revealed an unusual shaped pit. Possibly a quarry pit? The verdict is still out!

Luckily at the end of the day a photo was taken of the pit as that night the site had heavy rain. Inspection of the trenches the following morning revealed areas of flooding. This day was the site open day with many visitors expected. With Dave and all involved with the Caer Heritage Project the field was prepared for the activities that were to take place within the field, including regular guided tours around the site explaining to the visitors the archaeological evidence found. For the first time many of the visitors discovering the long history of their area and a chance to be involved with the project.

The students on the camera team interviewed fellow students and Neil (Prof) with the aid of a trowel! A day reported to have an amber weather warning turned out to be a glorious summer day with many visitors and an important day for the Caerau Hillfort.

Unravelling the Past (one scroll at a time) – New blog by Sara Brown

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The CAER Lead Scroll before Conservation

As one of the Finds Officers on this years CAER Heritage Project excavation I am fortunate to be one of the first people to come face to face with material not otherwise seen for thousands of years. A highlight for me, so far, was the opportunity to open a possible Roman Lead Curse Tablet.

Curse tablets were left by the Romans at temple sites as tokens in return for a wish or to put a curse on an enemy; the modern day equivalent of throwing a penny in a wishing well. Curse tablets have been found at Roman sites across Britain. Some are inscribed with its bearer’s desires and some left blank. Theories suggest that blank tablets may have contained organic material such as hair or fabric that would represent the curse. Often, due to its burial environment, this material has not survived.

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The CAER Lead Scroll after Conservation; also pictured are the tools used during treatment

Using a combination of soft tools and heat I have been able to carefully unroll the lead scroll found at Caerau. Unfortunately no inscription was found leaving the scrolls purpose a mystery. Could a stranger have deposited it 2000 years ago as a token of cruel intentions?

Perhaps the analysis of the finds from the excavation will tell us more…

 

About the Author

Sara Brown is a recent graduate from Cardiff University. She has a BSc in Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology and as such is professionally trained in the conservation of archaeological material. She has been able to undertake this project having previous experience of unrolling Roman lead scrolls. For more information on her past projects please click here

CAER Heritage at Ely Festival

Last Saturday was the Ely Festival – read CHP’s Louise’s blog about what we got up to…

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent CAER heritage at the amazing Ely Festival alongside Dave, Mel, and Alex. Digging Caerau is not just about a bunch of archaeologists excavating a hillfort, engaging with the local community and helping them to discover the rich history on their doorstep plays a huge role and many locals come up to site to volunteer or just to see how things are coming along each day. The Ely festival gave me the opportunity to leave the site and actually spend the day right at the heart of the communityElyFest1

We arrived before the festival began and to unload the van and set up our stall, making it look as inviting and interesting as possible. We set up plenty of photographs, a colouring table for the little ones, a finds table with lots of information about the site, the heritage trails and photo booklets of Ely and Caerau in the 1980s, and an iron age pot making station where I ended up spending most of the day.

There was just enough time for Mel to give me a quick pot making lesson before the visitors started arriving, a slow trickle at first, then as the day went on, we got busier and busier. Although the CAER Heritage project has been up and running for a few years now, many of the visitors to our stall, although familiar with the hill and no idea about the historical importance of the site. Everybody was interested to hear about the excavation and how they could get involved and even more were keen to take a look at the arrowhead many had seen on BBC news a few days earlier!

While the adults and some of the younger visitors learned about exciting past of their community, most of the children were immediately drawn to our make your own Iron Age pot table! Although I expect the interest had more to do with the opportunity to get messy and make something they could take home than learning about the Iron Age…ElyFest2

Although Mel had shown me two techniques that morning in her pottery master class, as I am not a particularly creative person, and the table was usually crowded with young children all extremely eager to make their own pots, I definitely went with the easier stick your thumb in the ball of clay and pinching the edges into a pot nine times out of ten! Some of the pots made were definitely less… functional looking than others, and one adorable little boy went for a dinosaur instead despite my insistence that there were no dinosaurs in the Iron Age, but they all seemed to have fun giving it a go! And it wasn’t just the kids who got involved, one man gave the children a run for their money, shout out to you Lyle!

Making pots with dozens of excitable children (and Lyle) and engaging with the community is definitely equally as tiring as spending the day mattocking as it is all go all day, and I went home just as mucky at the end of the day, but the experience was also just as gratifying. As amazing as it is to dig and to actually discover parts of the past, hearing a child ooh and ah as they realise just how long ago the iron age was (way before TV and computers!), or seeing the interest and amazement on people’s faces as they hear about the history of the place they have lived in all their life and never known about and possibly discover a new interest in the past, is a uniquely rewarding feeling.

P.S. to all the parents I reassured that the clay would come out in the wash, I have since learned that I may have been mistaken, but at least you have a lovingly made pot to put on the mantelpiece. Sorry!