News Letter

Caerfai excavation 2022

Hello, my name is Eirlys Happs, I’m 19 years old. I’m from Carmarthen in south Wales. Archaeology is a passion of mine.


After finishing college and deciding not to attend university yet, I fell into a slump many know well. During this time I began to rekindle my love for the Welsh language and missed speaking it as often as I used to. I attended a Welsh first language primary school despite being raised till then, singly in English. 

A young person standing in a trench, wearing a red shirt and white t-shirt, holding a trowel and hand shovel, with the sea and coast behind them.
Eirlys with their trowel and hand shovel, ready to dig!

Prior to this I had only ever had a passing interest in history and had never considered archaeology past the occasional episode of Time Team. However this set in motion the drive that led me to dig at Caerfai this year. I love celtic cultures, languages and art styles among many aspects of history. 

On my first day I dug in the rampart trench, a deep cross section of the ditch.

Part of four towering banks, which would’ve originally been not only bigger but more grand.

The magnificent earthworks were most likely used to deter invasion and emphasise the wealth or even religiousness of the area and its inhabitants.

A trench with several people working in it, on a green grassy headland with the blue sea behind
The main trench on a sunny day - a hive of activity!

I was delighted to speak with visitors and another cherish funded venturer in Welsh. Sites like this can make many feel very close to their predecessors, Welsh, English or otherwise. Sites like this can make many feel very close to their predecessors, Welsh, English or otherwise. 

Throughout the week I worked in many other areas, but most notably to my aching muscles, backfilling trench 5. I was soon back in the rampart trench for my last two days of cleaning and planning.

Planning, the process of meticulous recording in the trench, was an utterly new skill to me despite having seen it done; it was delicate work to discern contexts (soil deposits) and then measure each one. 

A close up shot of a deep archaeological trench through a rampart
The rampart trench (with Puffty investigating)

While I was sad to leave this site, I gained so much from my week at Caerfai which I admit, I would never have been able to attend without cherish funding. 

I am vastly grateful to all those at cherish who gave a wonderful talk and this much valued opportunity; everyone at dig ventures for creating a welcoming, inclusive and informative environment; last but certainly not least to the Cardiff university students who were constantly warm and humorous despite their hard work. 

A young person in a red shirt holding a toy puffin on a hand shovel
Eirlys and Puffty in the main trench