A Short History of Cardiff Archaeological Society

    In February 1960, an article appeared in the South Wales Echo inviting interested people to attend a meeting in the Queens Hotel in Cardiff to form an Archaeological Society. From that meeting CAS was born.

    Initially aerial photos were examined for possible sites and, following approval from Dr Hubert Savory, Keeper of the
    Department of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales and Leslie Alcock, lecturer in Archaeology at University College of Wales, Cardiff, this group of amateurs began to excavate at Llantrithyd in the Vale of Glamorgan.

    Little did anyone know that the excavation would last from 1961 until 1969!  The excavation report was finally written up in 1977.

    During 1962 a small excavation also took place on week day evenings at the Bishop’s Palace in Llandaff although little of note was found due to the major part of the site being covered by allotments.

    From 1969 excavations were undertaken at a barrow site at Welsh St Donats. This was to be the last, so far, of the Society’s excavations although survey work at Coed Parc Garw took place in 2003-2004. 

    Since 2010 the Society has been providing assistance to the National Museum of Wales and Cardiff University on the dating of remains found at the Lesser Garth cave and in 2011 began researching into the location and history of Roath Mill.

    From early meetings in an empty shop in Roath, via the Friends Meeting House, to its current venue at Cardiff University, under the auspices of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, the Society’s winter lecture programme continues to attract prestigious lecturers at the cutting edge of their subject.

    Three day trips and a number of evening visits are undertaken during the spring and early summer, always accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, and often to excavations and properties not accessible to the general public.

    A Short history of Llantrithyd 

    The first phase of occupation of the site would seem to be that of an earthen ‘castle’, surrounded by a ditch, at some time during the initial period of the Norman conquest of South Wales, when Llantrithyd came into the ownership of the de Cardiff family.

    Later stone buildings and fortifications were erected with the site becoming more a fortified manor or hunting lodge than a castle. The large numbers of bones of birds of prey found, including goshawks and sparrowhawks, seem to confirm this. The stone buildings were succeeded by a further phase of timber buildings with occupation of the site ceasing by the end of the 12th century.

    The numbers of arrowheads also seem to indicate that the site was attacked during the period of unrest in South Wales. This is further supported by the major find on the site; the hoard of eight silver pennies found in the north west corner of Building 3.  These would have been hidden, possibly in the eaves of the building, sometime between 1122-1124.

    One of the coins, all from the reign of Henry I, is a rare Type V giving the moneyer’s name as Walterus and Cardiff as the mint, with the cut halfpenny being the earliest coin of the Cardiff mint to have survived.

    Vast amounts of mostly medieval course pottery were excavated as were oyster shells and a wide range of animal bones. The inhabitants certainly ate well.

    Among the variety of objects also found were a ring, book clasp, gilt purse clasp, padlock and keys, hones, a knife handle, bone combs, needles  and pins. 

    Other finds included a roman coin and some samian pottery, Neolithic arrow heads and scraper and a small amount of pottery from the Neolithic to Bronze Ages. A fine jade archer’s wrist guard that was uncovered, possibly from a beaker burial and originating from Switzerland is currently being examined as part of a National Museum of Wales project.