Ely’s best kept secret – India Grant


The thing about this Cardiff gem is the fact it’s so well hidden. Standing at the bottom of a hill on a chilly December day there was little to indicate the presence of one of the largest, best- preserved hill-forts in South Wales.

Yet, it’s there and well worth a visit. As one member of our group put it, ‘It’s addictive! Once you visit your first hill-fort you won’t look back!’.

We were guided around the fort by Dr Olly Davis a Cardiff University Archaeologist. At the bottom, before we began the climb upwards there is a sign indicating how the fort would have looked when it was fully inhabited.

Walking up a gravel path, it’s easy to think this dirt track is just access to the farm at the top. In fact it leads to the top of the fortifications. Rising above you is a steep bank which would have served as defences. Time has worn it down, but when the fort was active it would have been 10 metres tall and formidable.

With modern machinery it would be a mammoth task. For the people who lived inside this Iron-age fortress it must have been epic. Yet for Iron-age Celts facing Roman attacks, it these defences were a necessity.

At the top of the hill fort is St Mary’s Church. Now a ruin, the church was still active in the 1970’s before being deconsecrated. There are still people that live in Ely and Caerau who were married in the church or went there for after-school clubs.

It’s worth climbing to the top if only to see the spectacular views of Cardiff and the Valleys beyond. On a clear day it’s possible to see as far as Castle Coch. It’s amazing to think how, thousands of years ago this was all greenery, there was no city sprawled out below, no Womanby Street to head to for nights out! It takes your breath away.

Going down the fort is a little trickier than going up. Again, wear sensible shoes! But it means you get to see the lay-out of the hill’s defences. Three rolling banks that would have been more protection for the fort are visible on the northern and southern slopes.

To conclude – the hill fort is well worth a visit! The walk around takes about an hour and Dr Olly Davis can answer just about ANY question you throw at him. It can be hard at times to get enough fresh air. But, tucked away in plain sight the hill-fort is wonderful for a calming weekend walk.

Helen’s CAER journey


I have volunteered with the CAER Heritage Project since 2013.  Initially, my intention was to just ‘dip my toe’ into their local adult education archaeology courses, but I was immediately hooked.  I had been interested in archaeology from the comfort of my own home for far too long, and it was time for me to literally get my hands dirty and visit the actual Hillfort excavation.  The leaders and other volunteers could not have been more welcoming, and I was made to feel a part of the team straight away.

During the last four years, I have been lucky enough to be involved in many more activities, and I now count the team and other volunteers as friends.  I believe that along with ACE, we have developed a real feeling of community, all because we share a common interest in history and our local heritage.  As a group, we embody one of the Cambridge Dictionary definitions of co-production – ‘to transfer some power from professionals to users, as it means that both parties contribute resources and have a legitimate voice’.  Put simply, it means we have taken ownership of our own locality and heritage.  Volunteers, team members and council staff have litter-picked, repaired the hillfort ramparts and regularly sit on various working parties, making decisions that will make Ely and Caerau even better places to live.

The project has gathered momentum over several years, but 2017 catapulted us into a realm that could only once have been imagined, when we were awarded a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This enabled us to lease the Gospel Hall in Church Road, with the intention of turning it into a Local Heritage Centre.  All of this has been done in full consultation with volunteers.  It is us sitting alongside the architect giving him a wish list of what we would like, and how we would like it to look.

If all this year’s hard work is successful, a further grant will enable us to actually renovate the Gospel Hall and have further excavations in the area.

Back in March, I was privileged to be asked to serve on the Hidden Hillfort Management Team, along with our youth volunteer, Alana.  Other representatives come from Cardiff Council, Cardiff University, Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeology, the new Western High School, other voluntary organisations and ACE staff.  I have been fortunate enough to represent CAER in a Co-creating Communities presentation in Bristol and a community archaeology workshop in Lincoln, accompanied by another volunteer, Viv Thomas.  All of this, thanks to the adult education classes, four years ago.

It is now the end of 2017, and the project has won two major community archaeology awards, projecting us onto a national stage.  On a personal note, the project has taught me that everyone can bring something positive to the table and I’m confident the project is going to go from strength to strength.  I have enjoyed every moment of it and am really looking forward to 2018.

The Caerau Hillfort Dig 2015

A blog by Exploring the Past student and volunteer Midnight

On Monday 6th July I returned to the archaeological dig at Caerau Hillfort for the third year in a row. Together with my trusty support worker, and with trowel in hand, I was rearing to go.

Unlike previous years where the weather has been baking hot and extremely bright, the Monday was grey, overcast and we even had a few showers. However, this helped keep the dust from the digging to a minimum.

As there was insufficient space for me to layout for digging in Trench 3, I was assigned to sieving. I was using a large rectangular sieve set in a tripod structure to go through the buckets of soil from Trench 3 to start with. I didn’t find anything, unfortunately, but others have found pottery shards and the like in Trench 3 over the last 2 weeks.

Sieving at Trench 5a

Sieving at Trench 5a

After the break I was assigned to Trench 5a and with my lovely assistant Ellen (I do hope I’ve spelt that right), we used a similar large sieve to go through the soil coming from Trench 5a. Whilst Ellen found numerous bits of pottery and even a small fragment of bone, I only found a thick pottery sherd. Dating of these sherds is hesitant at present and we await the arrival of a pottery expert to assist with this.

Despite the showers and slightly lower temperature, today was productive and insightful, and I eagerly awaited tomorrow’s adventure!

Tuesday 7th was a wet world! As the wind guested and clouds moved across the sky, one minute sunny, the next gray; I sat under a small gazebo and washed finds from Trench 3. To wash finds you need a tray with the finds in, a tray with some newspaper laid down, a bowl of clean water and a toothbrush. Gently brushing the find with a damp toothbrush, the soil and debris on the find is removed to reveal what lies beneath. Warning, never dip the find in the water!

Cleaning finds under the Gazebo

Cleaning finds under the Gazebo

I worked mainly on different types of pottery and some bone fragments. The pottery was interesting and I mainly cleaned three types; thin, black ware; medium dark brown ware and thick coarse ware. We await a pottery specialist to accurately date there fragments but as they were found in a Roman age midden it’s fair to say they may be Roman in age. Some of these fragments had slightly visible patterns and faint ridges or lines as well as edges.

Cleaning finds is as important to an archaeological dig as the digging itself. Without careful logging, cleaning and preservation of the finds we would have little idea about the use and relative age of the site. It’s also exciting to hold something in your hand that may have last been held 100’s of years ago and wonder if it was a precious, cared for possession or if it was a ubiquitous transportation vessel and given as little thought then as the thought we give the bottles we drink out of today.

Digging square 33 in Trench 3

Digging square 33 in Trench 3

Wednesday was all about ‘square 33 and the hidden treasure’! Despite the rain and the gooey chocolate cake like mud, I was laid out in trench three, digging a Roman midden! We used a slightly different technique to dig here, excavating the midden in squares so that all finds could be recorded accurately.

I was allocated square 33 which was 50×50 cm and asked to dig down 10 cm’s; sieving as I went. At first the going was tough and the site seemed barren. However, I did find (after a couple of hours of digging) a small fragment of white bone, possibly animal; and a little while later a large fragment of Oxford pottery.

Digging is obviously the most important part and main focus of an archaeological dig. It’s important to be careful while digging not to accidentally destroy finds with over enthusiastic use of the trowel. It’s important to note this as one digs down through time.

Bone fragment

Bone fragment

While I didn’t finish my square in the time allocated, overall today was a productive and exciting day.


The BIG CAER Geophysics competition!

Here’s your chance to flex your archaeological muscles! Take a look at the amazing results from the latest geophysical survey inside and around the Caerau Ringwork by the CAER team and local volunteers and let us know what you think you can see.

How to Enter? It’s easy!

Take a good look at the two images below – these are the results of the latest geophysical results around Caerau Ringwork. Geophysics helps us ‘see’ under the ground surface without having to dig – see here for an explanation of how geophysics works and how to interpret the results.

Caerau Magentometry

Results of the magnetometry (Young 2015). Base mapping Crown Copyright/databse right 2015. An Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service




Results of the resisitivity (Young 2015). Base mapping Crown Copyright/databse right 2015. An Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service


Study the results from both images very closely to see if you can spot any buildings or other potentially important archaeological features in them. THEN you need to:


Write a short paragraph (maximum 500 words) that tells us what you think you can see


Create an image that tells us what you think you can see


There are two age group categories for this competition.

Ages 8-18

Ages 18 and above

Please can you indicate your age clearly on your entry.

The entrant with the most convincing looking interpretation of the geophys results will win their choice of one of the following great prizes:

For age category 8-18: AN AMAZON KINDLE WORTH £59.00

For age category 18+


  • A free personal flint-knapping workshop with a master flint-knapper for you and a friend in which you will learn how to make a flint tools using the same techniques our Stone Age ancestors at Caerau would have been familiar with.


  • A free amazing weekend archaeology course ‘Shrines Stars and Sacrifice‘ taught by the brilliant Dani Hoffman and exploring the techniques that archaeologists use to understand rituals at prehistoric sites like Caerau.


PLEASE send your interpretations of the results to Caer@Cardiff.ac.uk OR you can drop them into Dave Horton at the Dusty Forge in person (please ensure they are clearly marked with a name, age and contact email or phone number) by 5pm Friday 8th May.

The winner will be decided by the CAER team and will be judged on both archaeological skill and imagination. All decisions are final.

Raising the Roof: How to Build a Roundhouse

Have you ever thought about building a house…not just any house…but an Iron Age roundhouse!? The thought never came to my mind, until I saw a poster next to Dr Olly Davis’s office at the University. St Fagans National History Museum needed the assistance of CAER Heritage Project volunteers to help out and test our knowledge, endurance in a bad weather, and our physical fitness in a bit of experimental archaeology.

John explains all about the Thatching process with the massivce roundhouses in the background

John explains all about the Thatching process with the massive roundhouses in the background

Olly would drive us out to St Fagans every week. The first time we were walking up the little muddy path towards the roundhouse building site, we weren’t sure what to expect. Needless to say, this was something completely new to all of us. But when we reached the end of the path and there was a small opening with two massive roundhouses staring down at us, we just stopped in awe.

If you’ve ever been to St. Fagans, you will know that amazing historic buildings from around Wales have been quite literally taken apart and re-erected, piece-by-piece, at the Museum.

Laying on the heather undercoat

Laying on the heather undercoat

However, the building of Iron Age roundhouses is quite different. These buildings were originally constructed more than 2,000 years ago out of timber and clay, material that has long since decomposed. The roundhouses at St Fagans then are reconstructions, but they are based on excavated archaeological evidence from Bryn Eryr in Anglesey. However, only the ground-plans of the houses at Bryn Eryr survived so this project was all about thinking about how our Iron Age ancestors might have built their homes.

We were to help out with the thatching of the houses. The thatching team at the Museum was led by John Letts, a palaeo-botanist and historic thatch specialist. He gave us a quick introduction and unravelled the story of the construction so far, and told us a little a bit about thatching.

Bundling the straw together for the thatch

Bundling the straw together for the thatch

There is no evidence in the archaeological record of what the roofs looked like, or what the techniques of thatching were in the Iron Age. We learned that the weathering coats and thatching techniques were based on surviving medieval roofs from England and Ireland, and the materials were selected from the array of seeds found in the archaeological record. We tried out several thatching techniques to see which worked best…after all, this is the whole point of experimental archaeology!

Before we were allowed to work on the roof we had to complete a working at height training session. But once we were let loose, it turns out students of archaeology are born thatchers (backup plan!!).

Stuff-thatching the roof

Stuff-thatching the roof

The roof, almost finished!

The roof, almost finished!

If you ever visit St Fagans Museum, this is a house to see and if it’s cold and rainy, gather around the hearth and for a few minutes travel back to the Iron Age, and perhaps try some of John’s Iron Age beer while you’re there.

Admiring our handiwork - Christmas celebration in the roundhouse

Admiring our handiwork – Christmas celebration in the roundhouse

Vesna Podrzaj

For more information about the Bryn Eryr project click here

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.

KenandHil (2)

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.

KenandHil (1)

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.