CAERbutteo at ‘Summer of Smiles’, Trelai Park, August 2021 Photo © Viv Thomas 2021

Did you know that around 1,800 years ago, Romans and Ancient Britons were neighbours – living very nearby, here in Caerau? What would happen if the Ancient Britons and the Romans had a football match? Who would win?

Here at CAER Heritage we’ve been thinking about a Romans v Ancient Britons football game for some time – and one day we hope to stage this as a full scale event with teams and football kit and everything. In the meantime, however, we’ve created a miniature version for you to play – CAERbutteo! Young people at our ‘Summer of Smiles’ event, Trelai Park 25th August 2021, designed the Football Kit our players are wearing. The Blue Team are Ancient Britons; the Romans are playing in red.

Here’s a little history, to help set the context for your game …   

We know that a tribe of Ancient Britons, who the Romans called the Silures, built our magnificent hillfort around 600BC, at the beginning of the Iron Age. The Romans first invaded Britain in 55 and 54 BC, but it took a century or so to proper settlement in South Wales. When they did settle down, it looks like they were soon living in some style … 

A Roman villa was discovered on the Trelai Fields racecourse in 1894 and investigated by Mr. John Storrie. Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who was then Director of the National Museum of Wales, then excavated the site in 1922.

He described his findings as follows:

“Here some time during the first half of the 2nd century some Romanized settler built a small house upon an island formed by a branching streamlet in a flat tree-lined marsh. The house was of half-H shaped plan with wings facing south and fronted by a continuous veranda. Above this the main block doubtless rose to a second storey. Close by lay a second building, oblong in plan, again with a veranda along the main front. To the southern end of this second structure was added shortly afterwards a small but complete set of baths. In connection with this establishment iron smelting was carried on… After various modifications … the second structure was demolished and the remaining buildings were surrounded, apparently within a quarter-century of A.D. 300, by … banks and ditches … and not many years afterwards the whole establishment seems to have fallen into disuse.”

So, let’s imagine our beautiful Roman Villa – complete with a posh bathroom – clearly visible from the ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort. Let’s imagine that a version of football (or soccer) had been invented all those years ago, on the outskirts of what is now Cardiff rather than in Sheffield in the 1850s … wouldn’t you fancy a game with your neighbours? OK, this might not be Association Football, but we could think about the Roman game of harpastum, for example. Athenaeus, writing in 228 CE, referenced this game in his account of the time, describing how a game of harpastum involved use of hands and violence and appears to have resembled a mix of rugby football, wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognisable as modern football. As with “mob football”, the antecedent of all modern football games, it involved more handling the ball than kicking.

So … let’s hope that our Romans and Ancient Britons play fair!

Info. re. Trelai Villa from


The Wandsworth Shield, Iron Age Shield boss, La Tène style, circa 2nd Century BC, British Museum.


A fun competition that the whole family can get involved in!

We need a striking and effective logo to show the world how much we LOVE our Hillfort! Our Love Our Hillfort logo needs to be designed around a strong and easy to recognise emblem that we can use across all media to promote our work, help us stand out – and be noticed!

We need YOUR creativity and ideas to help us! All entries will be placed into a competition for a personal 2 hour VIP guided tour of Caerau Hillfort with a chance to meet the project’s archaeologists and artists, experience unique archaeological finds hands-on and find out about our plans for the future with FREE cake, tea & coffee!   

When designing your logo think about:

A) Visibility: Is it easy to recognise? Will the logo work at a small size and be visible at a distance?

B) Meaningfulness: does the logo say (communicate) something positive about Caerau Hillfort?

Think about the origins of famous and easy to recognise logos e.g.

… The McDonalds logo references the golden arches from the 1950s restaurant building – joined to make an M …

… The Nike logo is a ‘swoosh’ – indicating speed …

… The Apple logo represents Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree etc.

C) Style! Is it cool? Does the logo look good, has it got … class?

For inspiration either:

A) Visit Caerau Hillfort!

B) Check out the CAER Heritage Project: Learning pages on our website …

C) Watch one of our amazing films: e.g. CAER HEDZ and lots more from our archives

D) Pick up a Hidden Hillfort leaflet from Our Place Dusty Forge, 460 Cowbridge Rd W, Cardiff CF5 5BZ … or download the CAER Colouring Book which features some great designs developed with our partner schools …

E) Check out Iron Age Celtic Art on Wikipedia – the picture of the shield above is a great example.

Please send sketches to – mark your e-mail ‘Love Our Hillfort’.

The chosen sketch will be digitally recreated by our professional graphic designer.

We will be sharing images of the best sketches over the next few weeks via social media:

Twitter: @CAERHeritage

Instagram: #caerheritagehiddenhillfort

Facebook: CAER Studio @CAERBC

NB Competition closing date now extended to October 31st 2019. Competition entries will be judged on the basis of the three criteria outlined above by a panel of local residents and CAER Heritage project artists/representatives.

The History Path

The History Path Mural (detail) Trelai Youth Centre, Ely, Cardiff. Photo © Vivian Paul Thomas

You don’t know history until it’s gone …

Sue Hamblin

In Summer 2018 CAER Studio was approached by Cardiff City Council to record the ‘History Path’ mural created in 2007 by young people from Trelai Youth Centre and Cardiff-based graffiti collective Illustrate Project. Initally the idea was simply to capture a photographic record of the mural which, at the time, was threatened with being lost beneath a new coat of paint!

The mural has now been safely documented – to his usual exceptional standards – by local fimmaker/photographer Viv Thomas, but discussions amongst the CAER Studio team suggested that something new, creative, and powerful could be brought into existence using the mural as inspiration.

So we approached local poet Sue Hamblin and were absolutely delighted when she accepted our commision to write a poem about the mural. We then asked Viv Thomas to film Sue performing the poem, which he did in the Community Garden at Our Place, Dusty Forge – this wonderful film can be seen via the YouTube link below.

We’ll leave you with some thoughts by Hidden Hillfort Director Dave Wyatt, written a few days ago, at the close of 2019’s community dig:

As this year’s dig comes to a close, here is an amazing performance by local poet Sue Hamlin of a poem she penned about the history mural at Trelai Youth Centre (pictured). But it’s about much more, it’s about the awesome community spirit of Ely and Caerau, the talented young people and incredibly rich heritage… lovingly filmed by the ever mighty Viv… please watch, enjoy and share!

The YouTube link is here

Sue Hamblin reading her poem ‘The History Path’ at the launch of the HLF CAER Heritage Hidden Project, July 2019. Photo © Vivian Paul Thomas

CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort at the Urdd National Eisteddfod

A young visitor ‘makes a find’ at the 2019 Urdd National Eisteddfod. Photo © Nicola Parsons

Cardiff Bay was the venue of the 2019 Urdd National Eisteddfod. On May 28th, the CAER Heritage Hidden Hillfort team were fortunate enough to be invited to have a stall, within the Cardiff University tent, in the Roald Dahl Plass. The CAER team, consisting of university staff and students, ACE staff and volunteers arrived bright and early to set up, but already The Maes was buzzing with activity and visitors.

Although I am born and bred in Wales, this was my first experience of an Eisteddfod, and I was amazed at the sheer number of visitors and the vibrant atmosphere.

It was very quickly all hands on deck for us. We set up our stall, and were immediately welcoming people, eager to engage and find out more about the project. We knew we would have to be prepared for all age groups, so whilst it was sufficient to chat to adults, and let them handle the artefacts, we also knew we would need something easy, interesting, and most importantly, messy, for the children. Luckily, one of our CAER Studio artists, Nicola, who is a mum of young children herself, arrived, armed with a big plastic tub, filled with soil from her garden and complete with live earthworm for authenticity! In the mud, she had buried various items for children to ‘excavate’, including a pot she had broken up and buried, ready for the children to discover and rebuild.

The activity proved incredibly popular, and its success has ensured that it is an activity we will be using at future engagements. Throughout the day, we successfully engaged with many dozens of people, both local and from further afield. It was a real pleasure to be able to spread the story of our local treasure, our hill fort, which by the end of the day was a little less ‘hidden.’

Helen McCarthy, June 2019

The CAER Mosaics at Cardiff West Community High School

CAER Mosaics at Cardiff West Community High School

On Tuesday 19th February CAER Studio lead artist Paul Evans, along with staff from Willmott Dixon, installed 60 individual mosaics into the Cardiff West Community High School (CWCH) new build school on Penally Road, Ely.

Working with mosaic artist Andrew Heath and CAER Studio artists Becci Booker and Imogen Higgins, pupils from Hywel Dda, Trelai, Pencaerau and Millbank primary schools – along with two groups of young people from Cardiff West Community High school – created these individual pieces at CWCH on Michaelston Road over three days in November 2018. The mosaics are all informed by a personal understanding of heritage – some of the young people decided to use the examples of Iron Age art that they were provided with as inspiration, some chose to draw on personal memories and references including family heirlooms and figures from the past. The outline of Caerau hillfort is represented as a negative space in the centre of the arrangement, the choice of mosaic as a medium is informed by the fact that a Roman villa lies beneath Trelai Fields, overlooked by the new school.

This visually stunning installation represents not only the 60 young artists who took part (many of whom will be heading to the new school when it opens) but the community as a whole and the exemplary partnership working that has led to the creation of this extraordinary building.

We hope that the installation will serve as a constant reminder to pupils and staff of the outstanding heritage of Caerau and Ely – a vibrant, living legacy that will be present in the mind each and every day.