Archaeology Diary

My name is Oliver and I’m studying Archaeology at Cardiff University. As part of my course at the University, four weeks’ practical archaeology work must be undertaken. This could be in a museum or out in the field. During the first year, as part of my practical work I went to a private archaeology company in Cardiff, but decided in my second year that I wanted to carry out more field work, along with more community work, if possible. This is why I decided to go to the site at Caerau and Ely to work on the Iron Age hillfort. As part of the work on the site we needed to work with schools in the local community. Every pupil would have their turn to work on this. 

Working with the children at the school, I improved a lot of my social skills. As part of the work with them, different groups needed to be taken up to the site in order to see different aspects of archaeology as well as seeing archaeological digging for the first time. The children also had a chance to take part in the process by using a sieve to find small pieces of rock.

After going up to the site, we took one of the groups to show them some of the artefacts that were found in the hillfort some years ago. Following this, the children had a chance to draw and take pictures of the artefacts. It has to be said, working with the school and people from the community has been an excellent experience and I have learnt a lot. Thank you very much to Kim and all the ACE team, they do an excellent job of bringing the community together.

Oliver Heard, August 2019

Dyddiadur Archaeolog

Fy enw di Oliver, ac rydw i’n astudio Archaeoleg lan at y brifysgol yng Nghaerdydd. Fel rhan o fy nghwrs at y brifysgol mae angen cario mas pedwar wythnos o Waith ymarferol Archaeoleg. Galla hin fod mewn amgueddfa neu mas yn y cae. Y flwyddyn gyntaf fel rhan o fy Ngwaith ymarferol wnes i fynd i gwmni archaeoleg breifat yng Nghaerdydd, ond penderfynais i yn yr ail flwyddyn bod dwi eisio wneud fwy o Waith yn y cae, a hefyd mwy gof Gwaith efo cymuned os posib. Dyna pam oedd i’n dewis mynd i’r safle yn Gaerau ac Ely I weithio at y fryngaer o’r oes haern. Fel rhan o’r Gwaith at y safle roedd angen gweithio efo ysgolion yn y gymuned leol. Roedd pob un o’r disgyblion yn cael tro i weithio arno hyn. 

Gan weithio efo’r plant yn yr ysgol, wnes i wella llawer of fy sgiliau cymdeithasol. Fel rhan o weithio efo nhw roedd angen cymryd gwahanol grwpiau lan at y safle er mwyn iddyn nhw weld gwahanol agweddau o archaeoleg a hefyd i weld cloddio archaeoleg am y tro cyntaf. Roedd yna siawns hefyd i’r plant cymryd rhan yn y proses can defnyddio gogr er mwyn fidio darnau bach o greigiau.

Arol fynd lan at y safle, Wynith ni cymryd un o’r grwpiau i ddangos nhw at rhai o’r arteffactau ac roedd yn cael ei ffeindio yn y fryngaer rhyw flynyddoedd nol. Arol hin roedd y plant yn cael siawns i arlunio a thynnu lluniau o’r arteffactau. Mae rhaid dweud gan weithio efo’r ysgol a phobl o’r gymuned mae e di bod yn brofiad arbennig o dda, ac rydw i wedi dysgu llawer. Diolch yn fawr I Kim ar holl dîm ACE, nhw yn gweund swydd arbennig o dda at ddod y gymuned efo ein gilydd.

Oliver Heard, Awst 2019

National Play Day 2019: CAER-style

From Iron Age to Digital Age: CAER Hidden Hillfort selfie booth

On August 7th we were invited by Cardiff Council Children’s Play Services to run an art activity at their fantastic annual National Play Day!  Following last year’s successful event held at Roath Rec, this year it was situated in the beautiful grounds of Llandaff fields alongside lots of other wonderful local organisations: Flying Start, Cardiff Library, HYB, Rhydypennau library and Beicio Cymru to name but a few! 

53 individuals from local Caerau families and community group UNITY departed from our very own CAER Hidden Hillfort, accompanied by ACE staff Dave Horton and Caroline Barr. They were able to soak up the glorious sunshine and join in with a vast array of free activities such as soft play, loose parts junk modelling, singing and storytelling, and craft workshops.

UNITY & CAER outing

CAER Heritage artist Nic Parsons, Becki Miller (ACE Senior Development Officer) and play worker Roxy Barnes ran an overwhelmingly busy clay workshop, producing pendants inspired by traditional Celtic and Iron Age patterns. We embraced the non-stop flow of participants, engaging with hundreds of enthusiastic and creative small people and their families on the day!!!

Over 200 participants visited the Hidden Hillfort stall!

Organiser Justyne Sanderson – (Play Development Support Worker) spoke fondly about the event:

‘What a fantastic day with so many children and families enjoying free play and so many activities in one place.  Lots of parents came and spoke to us about how amazing the event was and they couldn’t believe it was all for free.  We ran out of wristbands very early on, but the estimate of children and families attending was over 2000.

It was great to meet everyone and put faces to names and get a better understanding of what everyone provides for children, young people and their families across the city. 

We hugely appreciate everyone giving up their time and providing free activities for the day, and promoting the importance of play.  Again we all managed to transform the park for a day with something for everyone!’

Paul Fortescue, Support Play Worker at Grangetown Play Centre added:

‘A wonderfully fulfilling day where creativity and guidance collided to allow the freedom of children, from all walks of life, to blossom on their own terms’

Thank you to everyone at Children’s Play Services for inviting us along – we’re already really looking forward to next year!

Nicola Parsons, August 2019

Learning through Iron Age play…

For the CAER Heritage Project, staff team, the relationship with the current residents of Caerau Hillfort and the surrounding area is just as important as its historic occupants. The immediate area, Church Road, is home not only to incredible history and archaeology but also an active and thriving community group, Unity. Our relationship with the group has gone from strength to strength with us spending every Wednesday this summer holiday working together on a very important aspect of the Hidden Hillfort project, the heritage themed playground.

Last week, we hired a minibus and visited two playgrounds which use their area’s history as inspiration for play. First stop was Ynysangharad Park which uses the industrial heritage of Pontypridd. Here the parents set up a picnic while the children played on swings, slides, roundabouts and in the digging pits inspired by the mines and industry that once thrived in the Welsh valleys. Just before leaving, we spent 10 minutes running around and taking photos of our favourite pieces of play equipment…

Our second visit was to St Fagans National Museum of History which is home to a playground designed by parents from Pencaerau based on the farming history of Wales. The natural resources and timber used was a big hit with the group and we wonder whether we can incorporate this into our playground. Finally we took a short walk up to Bryn Eyre Iron Age Farmstead to check out the shape of, and materials used in, Iron Age roundhouses. This was to see how we can merge the history and archaeology of Caerau with the modern playground.

We had so much fun learning through play and we are super excited to get started on designing our own #HiddenHillfort themed play area! Next we will be doing some den building and creative play in Caerau woodlands to get even more ideas before working with project artists and a professional playground designer!  

Kimberley Jones, August 2019

Passion for History & Learning

As a student of Ancient History and Archaeology at Cardiff University, who is welsh born, the opportunity to dig and be involved in the Hidden Hillfort project in Caerau was to good to miss.  This was made even better due to the outreach program and involvement of volunteers from surrounding areas and further afield. Taking part in the dig has been wonderful overall: my favourite day was when a group of students from Hywel Dda Primary school visited. Seeing the excitement on their faces and being able to help them learn about their own heritage was an incredible experience. I loved getting to know the children individually and seeing their passion for history and for learning: it reminded me of why I myself wanted to become an archaeologist.

Throughout the day the children took part in three guided activities, each being done with great enthusiasm, particularly when looking at the artefacts and seeing the replicas. They all got stuck into each task and bravely faced the long walk up to the site itself to see the trench’s and learn about the importance of the ramparts. They all tried their best and had a good crack at everything even if it wasn’t their strong suit and seemed to thoroughly enjoy each activity that was set. I was sad that they weren’t coming back the next day as they made the site so lively. All 18 of the students were a credit to their school and helped reignite my excitement for the site and for my course, reminding me as a student how important it is to remember the past and encourage younger students to pursue that path as well if it’s a passion of theirs.

Hannah Ferguson, July 2019

CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort at the Urdd National Eisteddfod

A young visitor ‘makes a find’ at the 2019 Urdd National Eisteddfod. Photo © Nicola Parsons

Cardiff Bay was the venue of the 2019 Urdd National Eisteddfod. On May 28th, the CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort team were fortunate enough to be invited to have a stall, within the Cardiff University tent, in the Roald Dahl Plass. The CAER team, consisting of university staff and students, ACE staff and volunteers arrived bright and early to set up, but already The Maes was buzzing with activity and visitors.

Although I am born and bred in Wales, this was my first experience of an Eisteddfod, and I was amazed at the sheer number of visitors and the vibrant atmosphere.

It was very quickly all hands on deck for us. We set up our stall, and were immediately welcoming people, eager to engage and find out more about the project. We knew we would have to be prepared for all age groups, so whilst it was sufficient to chat to adults, and let them handle the artefacts, we also knew we would need something easy, interesting, and most importantly, messy, for the children. Luckily, one of our CAER Studio artists, Nicola, who is a mum of young children herself, arrived, armed with a big plastic tub, filled with soil from her garden and complete with live earthworm for authenticity! In the mud, she had buried various items for children to ‘excavate’, including a pot she had broken up and buried, ready for the children to discover and rebuild.

The activity proved incredibly popular, and its success has ensured that it is an activity we will be using at future engagements. Throughout the day, we successfully engaged with many dozens of people, both local and from further afield. It was a real pleasure to be able to spread the story of our local treasure, our hill fort, which by the end of the day was a little less ‘hidden.’

Helen Mccarthy, June 2019