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Heritage Action member Sue Brooke continues her journey of discovery with Caerau Hillfort in Wales. New readers should start at Part 1 or put Caerau in our search box to get up to date.

Ok, so I’d had a real problem in what the Romans may have been doing here, above my garden. This site was isolated. Yes, a possible Roman road could be identified as the current A48 through Cardiff which leads to the Roman Castle in Cardiff to the east and the Roman town in Cowbridge to the West as Jeff had explained. But even so, surely there had to be a reason for a Roman Camp to be here. The site is’ Scheduled’ as a (possible) deserted medieval village. OK, well that’s good but why was it deserted and, where are the houses? Surely medieval homes would have at least have been akin to what we know about thatched cottages. There didn’t seem to me to be much evidence of that as there was no sign of building on the ground. It clearly was important locally as anyone who would listen to me would often be able to add a story or two of visiting the site, either to attend weddings in the old and now ruined St. Mary’s Church or as part of the Whitsun Treats.

Now, with Mark’s input this was getting really exciting! But, umm, could anyone tell me anything about the Iron Age?

More books to read. More Time Team episodes to watch and re-watch. As the episodes came and went I began to learn quite a bit about the Iron Age people and how they lived. I found I could buy some really old books on eBay or in local antique type shops. I learnt a lot. Then Dr Francis Pryor appeared on Time Team.

Now, I already knew of Dr Barry Cunliffe and, thanks to Santa Claus, had collected a couple of his books. I had even visited the experimental archaeological hillfort site at Castell Henllys (most definitely recommended, by the way!). But Dr Pryor just seemed to pop up. He then mentioned his work at Flag Fen. That was really convenient as my husband is from Peterborough and Flag Fen is ‘just around the corner’ to where his dad lives. I was really interested in this in relation to what I’d already read about Maisie Taylor’s work at Sea Henge. The recovered wood was taken to Flag Fen for investigation and preservation.

We visited, we were smitten and we became members. This was a bit different to your usual museum visit. You can wander around; in the round houses you can sit down or walk around, there would be a story-teller, in the grounds there would be a bloke making axes. You could touch and you could hold. Overall, you could learn. And yes, I confess, I did actually buy the T shirt. You should visit; it’s well worth the trip.

Making axes at Flag Fen, Peterborough
                        Making axes at Flag Fen, Peterborough

At a members ‘do’ at Flag Fen you could buy Francis Pryor’s latest book, and as a bonus he rolled up so he could sign it. It was actually quite surreal to be sat in a marquee with that bloke off Time Team, just chatting, sharing lunch and being friendly. We talked a bit about me being Welsh. It’s something us Welsh have grown accustomed to; the poking of fun at the accent, our rugby team etc. However, in this case it was the difficulties Francis Pryor has with the Welsh being described as ‘Celts’. But then, that’s a book in itself. However, I actually felt I could hold my own in these chats. But then Mr  B. suggested I should send my work to Time Team and get them ‘up there digging’.  Absolutely not. No way.

to be continued…


March 2013

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