A school and community initiative that has fired up interest in Cardiff’s history and archaeology has showcased its work at St Fagan’s National History Museum.
The community exhibition Share Your Story was produced by children and community members from Caerau/Ely who have been working with Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion on the Caerau and Ely Rediscovering Heritage Project (CAER).
The exhibition will be a chance to discover more about the little known Caerau Iron Age Hillfort.
The 12-acre location of the hill fort was the subject of an excavation by the experts of Channel 4’s Time Team in April, when they found 3,000-year-old homes and artefacts.
About 90 pupils from Fitzalan, Mary Immaculate High and Glyn Derw took part in a range of activities, from Iron Age pottery workshops to the creation of archaeology themed eco-graffiti art and artefact analysis. Pupils and community members have also been directly involved in archaeological research, undertaking a geophysical survey of the site and participating in a recent televised excavation in conjunction with Channel 4’s Time Team.
Chloe Clarke, 14, from Glyn Derw High School, took part in the filming of Time Team and her school’s projects. She said:
“I’ve always watched Time Team and I did want to be an archaeologist and I knew there was a Roman trench in Caerau, I used to play there all the time when I was younger.
“We helped with a lot of the projects and it was fun. Our D&T teacher had a free day and said that we should make a hill fort and the shields.”
Kaiya Bartram-Daly, also from Glyn Derw, said:
“It was really fun, I got to go into the storage room at the National Museum of Wales and we made coil pots.”
And it’s not just the teenagers of Cardiff who are interested in the history of the area; Sheila Spinks, from Adamsdown, is part of the adult learners group and has discovered places in the city she never knew existed. The grandmother of five said:
“It’s amazing and it’s been so informative. Last Saturday we went on walks to Tinkin’s Wood, St Ruthin’s, the Caerau hill fort and to a World War II decoy bomb shelter, it’s all been mind-blowing.
“I love archaeology and it’s a really important part of Cardiff’s history.”
History lecturer Dave Wyatt has also been a community engagement co-ordinator for the past three years and explained why it was important to include the community in such work.
“It’s given them a sense of ownership about the site and the projects on this site will run and run. The teachers we have worked with have said that it’s been nice for the kids to be involved in hands-on work instead of the usual dry, curriculum based stuff. And they know the site already, so it’s got a real sense of value now.
“We hope that the CAER project will help them connect the past to the present, making the heritage of Ely and Caerau relevant and important for contemporary communities.”
Dr Wyatt added that he hoped the event would attract further projects.
“The Share Your Story event also acts as a showcase for other areas in South Wales, showing them the support Cardiff University can provide for heritage projects, the educational opportunities such projects can create, and how these initiatives can also help challenge unfounded stigmas.”
The display of work by the pupils and adult learners will be on display at St Fagans National History Museum in July and August and will be going to the Cardiff Story Museum in the new year.