Here’s the latest installment of Heritage Action member Sue Brooke’s story concerning Caerau Hillfort in Wales.  New readers should start at Part 1 or see here for all previous installments and get right up to date.

To say I was not a happy bunny was probably an understatement. I know I had formed the most ridiculous attachment to the area and had kind of allowed it to become emotionally mine, and it could even be said I was guarding it jealously. But that’s not the point.

The CAER Heritage Project had allowed for work to be done locally that I could never have achieved. My local history website couldn’t compare with the all singing, all dancing one that Cardiff University was able to build professionally and maintain properly and regularly. I knew this.

But do you know what; Time Team is just three days. They come in, they make a few ditches, smile at the cameras, drink some local beer and then put it all together for one programme. Then it’s gone. Done. Over with. This area was important and very few people knew about it. It was, for me personally in my work, as much about the ‘people’ as it was about the ‘place’. I didn’t want it to have been laying there for all these hundreds of years just to be flashed up on the telly for an hour and then left at the mercy of whoever walked through the field gates next.

Then we met again. People were going on about how good it would be for the community. How good it would be to show the area in such a positive light. How brilliant it would be in taking the CAER Heritage Project further – gaining more funding, doing more good things, teaching more people more skills. The work being done could be linked in to other areas locally with heritage trails, the local kids could have the work included in their curriculum and gain so much from it. Worse, everyone but me was very excited about it.

I asked questions about what would happen up at the site. Some references were made in relation to Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, and his comments about ‘bunny huggers’. I liked that – I own five real live bunnies – but I wasn’t standing in the way of development, I was questioning the need to dig up a scheduled ancient monument for a TV show. When I asked about finding human remains it was pointed out to me that there had been a group of people campaigning for the return of human remains at various sites. I liked that too – I have been a follower of Arthur at Stonehenge myself for some time and I actually agreed with the principal that these people should have been allowed to lie in their final resting place and most definitely not end up as a museum exhibit – such as The Red Lady of Paviland exhibited in the National Museum of Wales. What about the vulnerability of the site? How could that all be kept secure, especially whilst the digging was taking place? What would happen to any finds? More questions, some answers.

I didn’t give in. Contrary to some comments made, I didn’t sell out. I just had no real option but to kind of agree to it going ahead – it would have anyway, the landowner was the one who had the final say, obviously. But I did have the option of making sure I was there.

So amidst all the excitement of being on the telly there was one party pooper. Me. Having said all that, there was still that nice man Jon from CADW who didn’t appear overly excited at all. Well, if he was he managed to keep a lid on it. So, once all the interim arrangements were made and everyone was sworn to secrecy the meeting ended.

On my way out I spoke quietly with Jon from CADW and said something like ‘you won’t let them dig it all up will you’. A one word answer, spoken directly into my eyes was good enough for me. ‘No’.

So, it seems, Time Team are coming….

As ever, the story continues next time, stay tuned folks!…