New dig at Caerau Hillfort – Getting excited yet?!

From 30th June to 25th July we’ll be digging again at Caerau Hillfort – read on to find out what we’re going to be searching for and how you can get involved!

More than 1,000 people visited the excavations in 2013 and 120 were directly involved in the digging. We opened three trenches within the interior of the hillfort (see the ‘Digging Caerau Booklet’ for a review of last year’s dig) and discovered the remains of at least five Iron Age roundhouses and the remains of a Roman settlement dating from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD. A further small trench through the inner hillfort rampart seemed to show that it had been rebuilt in the early Medieval period – more commonly known as the Dark Ages – suggesting we might even have an important settlement at Caerau during this elusive and mysterious time.

Location of this year’s trenches (Geophysics copyright GSB Ltd)

This year we’re again focusing the excavations within the interior of the hillfort. Two long and narrow trenches will explore buried ditches and features which showed up on the geophysical survey – some of these might by Iron age, others might be Roman or Medieval…if we’re really lucky, some may be much older, perhaps even Neolithic or Bronze Age (about 4000 to 800 BC) – we certainly found flint tools last year dating to this time – which could mean people were living in this place up to 6,000 years ago!

Two other trenches will explore the hillfort ramparts and ditches – one on the northern side of the hill and the other on the east, near to St Mary’s Church. If we can find animal bone or charcoal from beneath the ramparts that we can radiocarbon date, this will be able to tell us when they were first built. There might even be lots of artefacts discarded into the ditches that we can recover which will tell us more about the lives of the people who lived here in the Iron Age.

The trench I think is most exciting though is one we opened last year and are going back to again – Trench 3. If you remember, this trench contained the remains of four roundhouses, one of which was partially covered by soil building up against the back of the hillfort rampart. We didn’t have time last year to dig this roundhouse and this year we want to see how well preserved this house is. All the wooden parts of the house will have rotted away long ago, but we might have the house floor surviving beneath a layer of protective soil. If we do this could be really important and exciting – we would be excavating the floor surface that the final occupants of the house actually lived upon – we might be able to see where the hearth was, where they worked, where they ate, and even where they slept!

Hopefully we’ll have some really exciting discoveries come to light over the next few weeks – if you’d like to get involved, you can sign up for a free Live Local Learn Local course in archaeological skills (see here), you can volunteer and earn time credits for any time you give (see hereLearn to be an Archaeologist June 2014 ), or just come and visit! If you can’t make it to the hill, just keep checking here over the next month – we’ll be blogging regularly about what we discover!

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