I had the privilege today (and for the next four weeks) of going up to Caerau hillfort and poking about at the archaeology. The site is pretty cool. It’s an Iron Age site with prehistoric, Roman and Early Medieval finds mixed in. The hillfort itself is Iron Age, but the Normans built their own ringwork on top of it, followed in the thirteenth century by an upgraded version of the earlier Norman castle and the addition of St Mary’s church. The church burned down in the 1980s and has suffered from vandalism and graffiti, but is still a prominent feature.

Thirteenth Century church of St Mary that was the parish church until it burned down in the 1980s
Thirteenth Century church of St Mary that was the parish church until it burned down in the 1980s

I am obviously very interested in the relationship between the Early Medieval settlement and the Iron Age site, which may come up as the CAER Heritage team excavate the features. There has already been some post-Roman finds, including some pottery that’s a bit later, but they need to be properly identified and so on. We’ve found a bit of modern stuff (or at least, post-Medieval stuff) too, including a copper-coated iron button, a glass bottle corked with earth, and some sherds of white china.

Conservationists doing some conserving
Conservationists doing some conserving
Roman greyware sherds I helped to clean
Roman greyware sherds I helped to clean

Our prehistoric (pre-Roman) finds are mainly pottery and animal bone, and we’ve uncovered a good bit of Roman pottery too. We’ve also found an iron nail, but it’s hard to tell whether that’s Roman or earlier. I got to clean some of it in the conservation gazebo (it’s not really a ‘tent’…) and later got handed a mattock and ended up covered in mud helping to make the wall of Trench 3 straight and the right level. I kept calling it a pickaxe. That’s not what it was.

English: Caerau Hillfort Looking through a gap...
Caerau
Hillfort Looking through a gap in the embankment in the southeast corner
of Caerau Hillfort. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I helped to dig this section using a mattock pick and a shovel and a spade!!

It was a bit of an eye-opener for me since I’m not to be found out of the archives on a normal working day. It was bucketing down and we were wet and muddy, and I had a great time!

There were a few people who came up to have a look, and they got a site tour and a chance to get their hands dirty helping to do the machining (the fancy name for digging a great big hole) under supervision alongside the archaeologists and students. On the weekend there’ll be loads of people so that won’t be as possible, but there will be the opportunity for site tours (going around in groups of a few at a time), having a look at all the finds we’ve got so far, tribal logo designing and colouring books for the kids, a sandpit excavation for the younger children, and rumours of a bouncy castle. Guerilla Archaeology may be there on some occasions doing their wierd and wonderful things, and if we get good weather it’s a great site for walks and picnics! … Just mind the cow pats.

The thirteenth century/Norman features can be seen but aren’t being investigated at this point in the project. They’ll hopefully be looked at later. These next four weeks are focused on the three trenches, expanding and deepening the ones dug by Time Team, but that’s not to say medieval finds are out of the question.

Take a look at the CAER Heritage facebook page as well – day by day updates are posted on there including pictures and video. Follow them on twitter @CAERHeritage, or follow me @CelticMedusa. I’m not up there every day, but on the days I am there I shall be tweeting!

Who knows what we’ll find? Maybe you’ll even be there to see it!

Me cleaning finds under the supervision of Vicky & Johanna!

Me cleaning finds under the supervision of Vicky & Johanna!
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