‘A Pig in a Post Hole’ (or ‘Burying The Bacon’) … the other hog blog

CAER Heritage project lead artist Paul Evans reports on the sacrificial hog modelling that took place during the CAER Heritage Project celebratory ‘Iron Age Hog Roast’ on Saturday July 6th.

I ended up wearing two hats during the CAER Heritage Project celebratory ‘Iron Age Hog Roast’: my ‘CAER Heritage Project Lead Artist’ hat and my ‘Guerilla Archaeology’ hat …

If you haven’t already heard, Guerilla Archaeology is a loose collective of artists and archaeologists that do Archaeological outreach by stealth – a motley crew of latter-day Shamans brought together by Dr Jacqui Mulville. The natural environment of a Guerilla Archaeologist is the UK summer festival scene, so we felt right at home under canvas or out in the glorious sunshine at the ‘Iron Age Hog Roast’.

For the CAER Heritage Project, fellow Guerilla Archaeologist Matt Nicholas and myself had devised an activity that we felt would be the perfect side dish for the roasted hog: modelling tiny little sacrificial pigs out of brightly coloured plasticine.

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The idea of making sacrificial pigs was based on the ancient practice of placing animal bones in the post-holes of Iron Age round houses – similar to the dwellings that once stood within Caerau’s ramparts. A mysterious practice that might possibly have conferred good fortune upon the house, or it might have appeased any lurking evil spirits in the area – thus preventing them from causing trouble to your family or your neighbours.

Participants were provided with photographs of ‘Iron Age’ pigs to base their models on – although these ‘Iron Age’ pigs are actually ‘reconstructed animals’, bred by crossing a domestic pig with a hairy wild boar.

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Matt brought along a porcine jaw bone and a plastic toy pig for serve as porky life models. The local kids soon got on a roll with this – producing some weird and wonderful specimens, including a yellow ‘spider pig’ with multiple eyes.

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When we had enough models to work with, Matt and I persuaded the colourful swine to pose in one of the excavated Caerau post-holes.

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The plasticine pigs are now destined for a ceremonial burial at St Fagans National Museum – in the post-holes of one of the new Iron Age round-houses that are soon to be built on the site of the Iron Age village that was recently demolished .

This, we hope, will give archaeologists of the future something colourful to puzzle over – when the Caerau sacrificial pigs eventually get excavated …