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Sue Brooke updates us on the situation at Caerau since Time Team departed. For the full story of Sue’s involvement in the events leading up to the program, see the previous parts in the series here.

After all the excitement of the famous faces arriving, the helicopters flying about, telly cameras everywhere and, let’s not forget the sterling work of those two lady CADW Inspectors, the more cynical of you (yes, me too) may have thought that was it – job done.  Three days of digging, a lot of mess and an hour long TV show.

Well, as I mentioned previously the television programme was shown, and was really well done. I was anxious at the time of how the area would be portrayed but it was fine.  You may recall it showed the most amazing aerial shots and gave a snapshot into life from possibly the Bronze age onwards, confirming my very amateur belief that this area had been occupied more or less right through to today.

However, it also promoted the work that the young people had been doing, and this was so important to me. I wanted these kids to get the credit they deserved.  Local schools, supported by the Ely/Cardiff Communities First Project, came together and worked hard up at the site during the filming. They behaved faultlessly and really made us proud of them. I received a copy of the newest Time Team Dig Book as a very welcome birthday gift. Inside there was a brilliant article covering the dig up at the Caerau hillfort. But, importantly, I was delighted to see that the young people featured heavily in the report.

The television programme stirred the imagination of those in the local areas of Caerau and Ely in Cardiff. But more importantly it promoted the work of the CAER Heritage Project, which has gone from strength to strength, receiving ‘proper’ funding to enable them to carry out the work they had hoped to do here.

If you check out their website  it states:

Archaeologists from Cardiff University have teamed up with Ely and Caerau Communities First, local residents and the local schools to start the Caerau And Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project, based in West Cardiff.   The aim of the project is to explore the history and archaeology of the Cardiff suburbs of Caerau and Ely from prehistory through to the modern day, helping to connect communities with their heritage and develop educational opportunities.

 So, whilst the dust of the Time Team crews has long settled, this project is still out there, discovering, digging and generally including everyone in understanding the history of their own area.

As you may re-call, I had serious misgivings about putting the Caerau Hillfort on the map, as it were. It was a hidden secret here and not many people understood fully the value of the site. In fact, most people had no idea it was here at all. I felt it was a huge risk to expose it in this way, particularly on the telly. It would appear that, in this case, I was wrong.

The site has benefitted so many children, young people and adults who have become involved in interpreting, understanding and, of course, in protecting the area.  CAER Heritage Project workshops have been held in order for participants to learn about life in the Iron Age. Professionals have been involved to develop and run accredited training courses, including learning through hands-on digging. A Live Local Learn Local Adult Learners Course is planned with the aim of sharing skills in processing and analysing historical finds. Importantly there are many volunteering opportunities, which will benefit all those involved. These of course are linked in to the Time Credit scheme where participants earn time credits. Check out the twitter page @timeplace_ely for more information on the particular scheme which runs in the Ely and Caerau area. It’s quite an innovative project which is so beneficial to local people.

In fact, in the exciting development of the Pathways to the Past Heritage Trail some very hard, physical work has been put in, in collaboration with the local authority and various local initiatives, to enhance the physical environment. Trees have been cut back to expose long hidden paths, weeds have been pulled out, rubbish cleared and even the local bat population get a look in, with an organised bat count planned. This heritage trail will link the Caerau Hillfort site to the new Iron Age village at St. Fagans National History Museum.

To keep up with developments check out, and perhaps join, the project Facebook page where photos are uploaded regularly to show and promote the work being done.

In doing this little progress report I contacted Dr. Oliver Davis and asked if he would give us a little insight into himself, rather than just his work. He really does keep in touch with the community. He popped around here only the other day for a chat and a coffee, so I took the opportunity to ask him the questions from our Inside the Mind series.  His answers will be appearing here soon.

The aim of the project was to explore the history and archaeology of the area, connect communities with their heritage and to develop educational activities. Well, it’s my view that, so far, they’ve gone a long way in achieving this.

I hope that, once the whole thing is evaluated, that there will be a lot for us to learn in using community based working like this to protect our heritage. This could then, potentially, be applied to other groups and perhaps motivate them to do something similar!

From Mrs. Angry in Caerau – a very (rare) ‘well done’ to all involved and, to Olly, my sincere thanks for taking part in this. I shall get you a cider.

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