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Archaeological dig resumes at site of bronze age roundhouse in city park

20 Jun 2024 3 minute read
The archaeological dig in Trelai Park. Photo Vivian Thomas

A mysterious ceremonial monument could be uncovered during the third phase of an archaeological dig in a public park.

Trelai Park in Cardiff is a popular location for sports teams and dog walkers. But buried underneath the grass near Cardiff West Community High School lies a well-preserved roundhouse dating back to 1500 BC – the earliest house in Cardiff.

The first dig on the site two years ago revealed pieces of a stunning Bronze Age pot, which has since been painstakingly put back together.

Structure

Last year’s dig focused on the floor of the building and towards the end, the team discovered a hint of a structure that might even pre-date this find.

The Caerau and Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project, a partnership between Cardiff University, Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE), local schools, residents and heritage partners, has resumed its investigations half a mile from Caerau Hillfort, a heritage site of national significance where Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman and medieval origins have previously been discovered.

CAER Co-Director Dr Oliver Davis, based at the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: “Just days before the conclusion of last year’s successful dig, we came across the remains of what we think is another structure lying beneath our Bronze Age roundhouse.

“We’re looking forward to revealing what it is in full this year so that we can understand its significance. It could be an earlier house, or even some kind of ritual monument, perhaps a timber circle where communities might gather at certain times of the year in the Early Bronze Age.

“The scope and scale of this site continues to astound us. This year’s dig is set to be the biggest yet, bringing the community together once again to explore the fascinating history that has been lying underneath this popular park for so long.”

Fascinating

Alice Clarke, a volunteer from Caerau who is involved with the Love Our Hillfort community group, has been helping to clean artefacts, such as small fragments of pottery or flint, as they are recovered from the ground.

“It’s delicate work,” she said. “It really gets your heart going when you find something that could be important. It’s fascinating learning about the history that’s here. I love every single minute.”

Fellow volunteer Sian Davies, a retired care worker from Llandaff North, added: “This is my third dig – I enjoy archaeology very much. I’m very fond of our group and it’s lovely working with the students. It’s a joy taking part in something like this; it’s hard to explain how fulfilling it is.”

Evidence

Scott Bees, a second year BSc archaeology student, who has been analysing soil samples taken from the site, said: “It’s fantastic to be back at Trelai. We’re a week and-a-half in and we’ve already found lots of interesting evidence which will help build a picture of the people who lived here thousands of years ago.”

This latest activity on the site coincides with an exhibition at Cardiff Museum, which will be showcasing all the archaeological finds and inspired art works from CAER, and runs until September.

The dig takes place at Trelai Park until early July, with an open day on Saturday June 22, from 10am until 2pm. To get involved contact: [email protected] or via Facebook: @CAERHeritage


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