West Cardiff community receives £1.65 million fund for history developments

by Yasmin Begum

A community on the outskirts of West Cardiff has been awarded a fund of over £800,000 by the National Lottery for a project to unearth lost Celtic history, which now has a total cost of £1.65m.

The Caerau and Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project is based in the Cardifian suburbs of Ely and Caerau. The areas are also home to Caerau Hillfort, a site that goes back 6000 years. The Hillfort was once a busy site and is one of the earliest examples of human settlements within Cardiff city boundaries.

Working in conjunction with organisations such as Action in Caerau and local schools in Cardiff West, the consortia approach has been successful in what will prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime archaeological investment into South Wales. Other organisations have also provided support working with cultural heritage partners like Amgueddfa Cymru and Cardiff Story Museum.

The funding will go towards preserving the remains of St Mary’s Church in Caerau and towards redeveloping the old Gospel Hall on Church Road, as well as other new conservation effofrts.

The plan is multifaceted in that it includes the development of new green areas for West Cardiff and the redevelopment of buildings to support more community and engagement work. The aim is to boost the amount of engagement and visitors to the part of the city while offering a huge range of different activities.

Alongside the more public-facing elements, there’s a strand of research work included in the bid: the project looks to link the University with the local schools. Cardiff University will be offering a wealth of different workshops, opportunities, training and so much more to Ely.

The history of the area is also going to be implemented into the curriculum. For more information, contact SHARE schools’s David Wyatt who’s a lecturer in medieval history and is an engagement enthusiast.

Ely also includes the regions of Caerau of Trelai in the Cardiffian imagination, and was a site of race riots in 1991 after a Pakistani-owned shop was petrol bombed. Known as “the petrol riots”, Ely has high indices for poverty and multiple deprivation. Ely, like other areas in the city, is densely populated and embodies the changing face of Cardiff city itself in its culture, language and slang. The awarding of this heritage grant is unprecedented, with potentially long-lasting effects for the local area, local residents and the local University alike.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford commented on the announcement by saying “The archaeological work that is going on at that remarkable site will open opportunities for young people that have hitherto been very scantily available to them.”

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