Excavations at Trelai Park, situated approximately half a mile away from the renowned Caerau Hillfort, have commenced as part of the Caerau and Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project.
Previous archaeological investigations by Cardiff University archaeologists and local community members at Caerau Hillfort have unveiled evidence of Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman, and medieval origins.
The newly discovered settlement, known as the ‘Trelai Enclosure,’ was initially believed to bridge the gap between the late Iron Age and the early Roman period, shedding light on the post-Hillfort era.
However, it has been revealed that the roundhouse near Cardiff West Community High School predates the Trelai Enclosure.
The excavation team has gained a clearer understanding of the construction timeline of this structure thanks to the discovery of a clay pot at the site.
Dr. Oliver Davis, co-director of the CAER Project at Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology, and Religion, expressed great surprise and excitement over the unexpected findings.
He stated that the Trelai Enclosure could potentially offer valuable insights into the earliest origins of Cardiff.
Furthermore, the discovered clay pot, which is remarkably adorned and remarkably well-preserved, displays a level of craftsmanship that is exceptionally rare.
Discovering a Bronze Age settlement in Wales is also quite uncommon, as there are only one or two other known Bronze Age sites in the country. Dr. Davis speculates that the inhabitants of this settlement may have been descendants of the family responsible for constructing Caerau Hillfort.
Since the excavation began, close to 300 volunteers have actively participated in the dig, and approximately 500 individuals have visited the site.
Dr. David Wyatt, another co-director of the project, expressed that their initial objective was to find the missing link connecting the late Iron Age and early Roman period.
However, the findings have surpassed their expectations by uncovering something truly remarkable and considerably older.
He stated, “We believe the roundhouse could have been constructed during the mid to late Bronze Age, approximately between 1500 and 1100 BC.”
Importantly, the enclosure predates the construction of the hillfort, indicating that people inhabited this area even before the hillfort was established.
Dr. Wyatt commended the entire community, including volunteers, schoolchildren, and students from Cardiff University, for their outstanding achievements. This remarkable discovery provides valuable insights into the earliest residents of Cardiff and is a significant development for understanding the city’s history.
During the excavation, an archaeologist named Tom Hicks, who is part of Cardiff University’s Exploring the Past pathway, along with volunteer Charlie Adams, made an important discovery by unearthing and retrieving the pottery.
Tom described the find as an exceptionally well-preserved example of Bronze Age pottery, representing a significant addition to the archaeological record in the region.
He emphasized the opportunity it provides to gain insights into the lives of individuals who inhabited the site approximately 3,000 years ago. The intricately decorated pot reflects the creative expression and desire to showcase their craftsmanship to others.
Further scientific analysis could potentially reveal the pot’s original purpose before it ended up in the enclosure ditch, as well as shed light on its origin and manufacturing process.
Martin Hulland, the Headteacher at Cardiff West Community High School, expressed delight in participating in this exciting archaeological project, noting how their students have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the local history that lies just a stone’s throw away from their school.