Community Day

10 June 2020

Archaeology has always been about community. Discovering communities in the past but also creating new communities in the present through that discovery. Archaeology has the power to bring people together because it is about digging down to uncover new knowledge about the humanity of past lives. It creates a powerful link between modern communities and past communities through that visceral discovery; powerful time-travelling connections between people and place, between past and present. 

Archaeological discovery by its nature lends itself to democratic, communal and co-productive approaches. If you’ve ever been on a dig you know that special bond that gets created, with everyone contributing, bringing, sharing and developing valuable new skills. You also know the powerful connection you feel to past lives and communities when you hold a newly excavated object in your hand, or uncover a dwelling, or domestic animal bones, or crop marks – you literally touch the past and resurrect the lives of past communities.  

Over the years our academic school has developed internationally recognised and award winning expertise, partnerships and new ways of thinking about community engagement and participation. Whether its taking mind-blowing experimental archaeology to cultural festivals through Guerilla Archaeology; or involving whole communities in an archaeological discovery of their past through CAER Heritage; or widening participation in archaeology and higher education through SHARE with Schools and Exploring the Past. Community archaeology holds a special place at Cardiff, and today we celebrate this!

The Mind in the Cave – Paul Evans

We’d like to start our #CUArch100 Community Day with one of our favourite collaborators, Paul Evans! Paul is an artist who focuses on creative public engagement. He works especially closely with Jacqui Mulville and Guerilla Archaeology, but his work would have been equally at home in our Illustration Day or Experimental Day. Today, we’re sharing his workshop/experiment on cave paintings. Grab a piece of paper, something to draw with, and a blindfold to take part! (Suitable for all ages!)

Be sure to check out Paul’s other work at

Future Animals

A precursor to Guerilla Archaeology, Future Animals was a creative project funded by Beacons for Wales that resulted from collaboration between Cardiff University School of History and Archaeology, Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales, the artist Paul Evans and Techniquest. The Future Animals Team also included Cardiff University postgraduate helpers and Mike Bruford, Professor of Biodiversity at Cardiff University.

Future Animals worked with young people from St Alban’s School, Cardiff, ITEC Training Solutions, Cardiff and Plasmawr, Pontypridd, to create concept drawings for animals of the future based on contemporary species. These drawings featured in a professionally curated exhibition, with accompanying film, at Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales from February 1st until April 4th 2010.

Guerilla Archaeology

Guerilla Archaeology is a collective of archaeologists and artists who take archaeological outreach into non-traditional environments, particularly into Festivals! You can hear about some of their past workshops on their facebook page and twitter. A regular feature at Glastonbury, Guerilla Archaeology has online activities planned for the usual festival week this year, but they hope to see you next year in person! You can also visit their website here.

‘We Dig Caerau!’ Cardiff’s Hidden Hillfort and the power of community archaeology.

Dr Dave Wyatt, Reader in Early Medieval History, Community and Engagement, Director of Civic Mission for SHARE
Cardiff University

I’d like to talk about the significance of co-producing archaeological and historical research in close partnership with communities, and to think about the ways in which valuing local heritage and the collective discovery of the past has power to create new and positive life changing opportunities for all involved.  

To illustrate this, I want to talk CAER Heritage Project (@CAERHeritage) from its humble beginnings to becoming Times Higher Education award winning, flagship civic mission and development project for both Cardiff University and our community development partners Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE) (@elycaerau).

Caerau and Ely constitute the largest social housing estate in Wales…. Read on here!

Namibian Cultural Heritage Project

One of our newest projects is the Namibian Cultural Heritage Project, part of the wider Phoenix Heritage Project.

The Phoenix Heritage Project—generously funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund—is co-developing and co-refining existing UK best practice in heritage research and management for use within Namibia.  Working with our established partner institutions—the University of Namibia (UNAM), the National Heritage Council, the Phoenix Project, and Cadw—a team of UK and Namibian heritage academics, professionals, stakeholders, and students will work together to enhance knowledge of the existing archaeological and cultural resource…. Read on here!

Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage

Dr Richard Madgwick, Senior Lecturer in Bioarchaeology
Cardiff University

Our next partnership that we’d like to shout out is Operation Nightingale ( and Breaking Ground Heritage (!

Dr Madgwick was recently awarded AHRC funding for a project with them entitled Feasting Networks & Resilience at the end of the British Bronze Age This project will explore responses to a deteriorating climate and trade collapse at the end of the Bronze Age in Britain, with a focus on new social and economic networks that developed and how these made communities resilient in the face of turmoil. Around 800BC Europe suffered great upheaval as the climate deteriorated and economies collapsed, with bronze abruptly losing value. Like the 21st century economic crisis, this first millennium BC boom and bust caused great instability. In southern Britain, society did not shift focus to iron, but rather to agricultural intensification and grand-scale feasting; there was a ‘Feasting Age’ prior to the Iron Age. The remains of these feasts (middens) created some of the most startling archaeological sites ever unearthed. Middens represent the richest resource of material from British prehistory, some covering an area the size of several football pitches and producing thousands of artefacts.

East Chisenbury is one of the most impressive middens. The site is a visible mound on the MoD Salisbury Plain training area, well known to thousands of soldiers. Operation Nightingale (run by CA Archaeologist of the Year 2019 and Cardiff University Honorary Fellow Richard Osgood) & Breaking Ground Heritage (run by ex-Marine Richard Bennett) have run 5 excavation seasons (2011-2017) with veterans. (Dr Madgwick participated 2016-7). Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage enable recovery pathways and skill development for ex-forces personnel through heritage work. They won the English Heritage award for best community action project (2016) and addressed the House of Lords All Party Group on heritage and wellbeing (2019). Veterans are strongly invested in East Chisenbury and this project will bring them to Cardiff to work with Richard Madgwick in the post-excavation process, when more skills are developed and the site narrative is created. They will be engaged in processing and scientific analysis of the faunal material they excavated, co-producing archaeological data. We’re excited to welcome them to Cardiff soon (COVID-19 permitting)!

Views of Antique Land: Imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War

Paul Nicholson, Steve Mills, and Hilary Rees

Our view of the First World War (1914-1918) is often that of France and Belgium on the Western Front, but this was a World War and soldiers served in Egypt and Palestine too. Many soldiers took photographs or bought postcards which show very different conditions to those on the Western Front and which also record the ancient sites they saw and visited. Some of those photographs are presented here… Read on here!

SHARE with Schools

Our final partnership that we have space for today is the wonderful SHARE with Schools – their work speaks for itself! Check out their video below.

Many thanks to Dave Wyatt for the elegant introduction to this page!

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