Dr David Wyatt
I am an early medieval historian specialising in the history of slavery and servitude in the societies of medieval Britain. I have published a number of articles on this topic and my recent book Slaves and Warriors in Medieval Britain and Ireland, 800-1200 (2009) examines the extreme social and cultural significance of slavery for these societies; focussing upon the lifestyle, attitudes and motivations of the slave-holders and the slave-raiders. I also work on conceptions of gender and power; the political and cultural interaction between the societies of Britain c. 800-1200 and the anti-slavery movement in South Wales in the nineteenth century. In addition, I am interested in Viking period settlement and society in the Irish Sea region and have been involved in archaeological excavations at Viking sites in the Western Isles including 2 seasons as supervisor at a Bronze Age/Iron Age and Viking period settlement on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.
I am also very interested in the co-production of archaeological and historical research with communities and in the role that engagement with heritage can play in community regeneration and enskilment.
Research Projects and Innovation and Engagement activities
CAER Heritage Project
I am the PI and co-director of the Caerau and Ely Rediscovering Heritage Project (CAER Heritage Project). In 2011, historians and archaeologists from Cardiff University teamed up with local community organisation ACE (Action in Caerau and Ely), local residents and the local schools to found the CAER Heritage Project, to explore West Cardiff’s past and put local people at the heart of cutting-edge archaeological and historical research. As modern political and economic power has become concentrated in the centre of Cardiff and at Cardiff Bay, Caerau and Ely have become increasingly marginalised. From the outset the CAER Heritage Project’s key objectives have therefore been to employ the rich local heritage to develop educational opportunities and to challenge stigmas and marginalisation associated with these communities.
Funded jointly by an HLF All our Stories grant and the AHRC’s Connected Communities Programme, to date the project has involved community participants in a variety of co-produced projects, including geophysical survey, exhibitions, adult learners courses, and the creation of heritage trails. This culminated in summer 2013 with a major community excavation of the Iron Age hillfort involving a whole range of local community members and school children as key participants. For further information see: http://caerheritageproject.com
Facebook Page with information and images: http://www.facebook.com/#!/CAERHeritageProject
Films about the project:
The CAER Heritage Project is made up of a number of sub-projects including:
Digging Caerau – Funded by AHRC Connected Communities Heritage Development Award
Please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uic3R154154
Over the summer of 2013 community members and schoolchildren from West Cardiff have worked alongside archaeologists to uncover the secrets of one of Wales’ most significant yet little known historical sites, Caerau Hillfort. Digging Caerau’s mission is to help the people of Caerau and Ely to connect with this site’s fascinating past and make it relevant to the present. From the outset the project’s key objectives have been to put local people at the cutting-edge of archaeological research, to develop educational opportunities and to challenge stigmas and unfounded stereotypes ascribed to this part of Cardiff.
Despite its size and obvious importance Caerau hillfort is an enigma. No archaeologists have ever explored the hillfort before and as a result nobody knows how the settlement was organised inside, how long it was occupied, or even who lived there. Digging Caerau has uncovered a considerable amount of new information in this respect, including three Iron Age roundhouses, and a stone-built pathway that runs around the edge of the hillfort.
Community Iron Age Hog Roast at the Digging Caerau Dig, July 2013
Our community excavations have revealed that occupation at the site began before 500 BC and continued until at least the third century AD. Domestic life is indicated by the discovery of simple tools and ceramics from all periods along with a beautiful glass bead of Iron Age date and a disc brooch of Roman date.
Local people and school children have been at the heart of uncovering these amazing discoveries. Digging Caerau constitutes phase 2 of the Caerau And Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project - a collaborative project between Cardiff University, Action in Caerau & Ely (ACE), local schools and local residents – the project is about far more than its archaeological discoveries. The community - people of all ages and backgrounds – have driven the project and been involved in the co-production of research.
HEritge and ART Trails of Cardiff (HEART of Cardiff) Project
The HEART of Cardiff team takes advice from locals at the Ely Festival, July 2013
The HEART of Cardiff Project engages local people of all ages in the design, development and creation of a circular heritage trail around the Ely and Caerau district connecting the Caerau hillfort site and the nearby National History Museum at St Fagans. Community participants are also involved in the co-creation of an accompanying digital resource which will provide historical information and folk memories about important local sites way-marking the trail. They will then employ this design and the accompanying histories/stories and help to physically create the heritage trail linking communities and working along side a professional artist and early career academics to express their heritage and local stories through artwork, digital resources and cake-making!
In partnership with the Digging Caerau project and CAER Heritage project team participants are working closely with academic researchers, university students and heritage management experts to learn about and research the amazing multi-period heritage of the area. They are actively engaged in preserving and enhancing that local heritage - strengthening bonds of community and acquiring new skills and confidence in the process. In conjunction with buzz surrounding the Digging Caerau excavation it is hoped that HEART of Cardiff will create a lasting legacy which will invest local people in their heritage, providing them with a powerful sense of the importance of their 'home turf' and encouraging people from outside of Caerau and Ely to visit, rather than shun, this unique and vibrant area of Cardiff.
HEART of Cardiff is featured in AHRC and RCUK booklets, see:
SHARE with Schools Project
I co-ordinate SHARE with Schools (SwS) a project which creates links with local secondary schools and sixth forms in a variety of 'widening access' locations in South-east Wales (currently Ely, Caerau, Leckwith and the Cynon Valley).
In 2011 the School of History Archaeology and Religion launched SwS, an initiative to build long-term partnerships with targeted secondary schools within communities first locations; breaking down barriers to Higher Education and involving students in the development and delivery of the project.
SwS brings together three key objectives which have significant relevance to challenges currently faced within the Higher Education sector: widening access to university, meaningful community engagement and employability skills for undergraduate/postgraduate students.
SwS is a postgraduate driven project which has developed and piloted a programme of interdisciplinary interactive workshops delivered in targeted schools in Cardiff and the Cynon Valley which showcase the subject areas taught/researched across the School of History Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff. These workshops include a range of resources including artifacts, presentations, worksheets, quizzes, web resources as well as training sessions for volunteers. In 2012, the project recruited a team of 50 committed undergraduate volunteers who have rolled out the project workshops, delivering them to a wide range of pupils in the Cardiff catchment.
Following close consultation with teaching staff, outreach visits to pupils have been targeted at various stages of secondary education, not just in the final years of sixth form. SwS aims to break down barriers to Higher Education over a sustained period, engaging with pupils at three crucial stages in their academic progression. That is: year 7 (first year), year 9 (pupils decide options) and year 12 (6th form) thereby providing variety and skills at the appropriate level for each stage.
Through this sustained approach, the SwS team has established a project which is ambitiously long-term in its scope and objectives. SwS operates an annual roll-over recruitment of new postgraduate and undergraduate volunteers involved in year-on-year visits to targeted schools, thereby building trust and partnerships over time. This allows pupils in the target schools to become acquainted with the benefits of higher education through accessible activities and sustained contact with SHARE’s students.
Whilst SwS team are primarily motivated through altruism, the employability skills the project delivers to students, together with community engagement and widening access benefits, closely align SwS to policy and government funding directives in Wales, making the ambition and vision of the SwS team wholly realisable.
Exploring the Past
I conceived, designed and manage this foundation pathway which provides non-traditional adult learners with progression onto part-time degree schemes in SHARE with advanced standing.
Exploring the Past courses allow mature students to study within a timescale, framework and environment designed to specifically cater for their needs. Most classes are scheduled during the evenings and face-to-face tuition is supported by online teaching resources and discussion groups. Exploring the Past is designed to be flexible and multi-disciplinary, allowing students to experience a wide variety of subject areas and approaches. Some Exploring the Past courses are free standing with mixed classes of part-time and full-time students generating a vibrant dynamic, atmosphere and breaking down barriers and creating valuable support networks. In addition, the Exploring the Past Pathway provides significant pastoral support for non-traditional students including a peer support network allowing students to help, support and motivate one another.
The pathway recently won a Highly Commended award at the ceremony hosted by the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) - the national body which represents part-time education in universities.
Exploring the Past Web Site: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/exploringthepast/
The pathway recently won a Highly Commended award at the ceremony hosted by the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) - the national body which represents part-time education in universities. See: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/articles/cydnabyddiaeth-genedlaethol-i-gwrs-i-oedolion-syn-dysgu-8517.html
Fairbridge in the Park – Stone Age Graffiti Project
I instigated and co-ordinated a project in July 2011 involving a unique partnership between the Bute Park Restoration Project, the National Museum of Wales and the charity Fairbridge - who work with disadvantaged young people aged 13-25.
On day one, young people from Fairbridge spent the morning at a secluded riverside spot in Bute Park learning how stone-age people knapped flint in order to manufacture stone tools and how they worked antler and bone into handles, combs and other useful things. They then visited the National Museum where they handled authentic stone axes and tools and learned how to manufacture string from nettle stems. Inspired by these experiences the young people went on to design a piece of eco-graffiti artwork in the park themed on Palaeolithic cave paintings guided by artist Paul Evans.
I am a public engagement ambassador with the National Centre for the Coordination of Public Engagement, an institution which promotes Public Engagement in Higher Education Institutions across the UK
Selected Innovation & Engagement activities, 2004 to 2011
May 4th, 2011 Welsh Voices of the Great War Online, school visit day
I facilitated a one day visit for secondary schools involved in Welsh Voices the project and delivered a presentation. I also supported the project co-ordinator at the project’s road show event in Wrexham (July 2010) and was a member of the project’s steering committee.
March 1st and 15th 2011, The Lost City of the Legion
Two events (one internal, one external) to celebrate the archaeological discoveries at Caerleon in 2010. I facilitated promotion and organisation, spoke on community engagement at the first event and helped to stage-manage the second.
November 2010, Life Stories I devised, organised, co-ordinated this one day SHARE-wide engagement event in collaboration with the Welsh National History Museum exploring the value of life stories for society, communities and individuals. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/share/newsandevents/events/lifestories.html
October 9th 2010, Art of Integration Islam UK outreach event
I facilitated promotion and organisation, consulted on content, press releases and co-ordinated at the event. I produced a detailed evaluation/impact report.
May 2010, Getting Medieval at Cosmeston Medieval Village. I devised, organised and co-ordinated this collaborative event with Centre for Lifelong Learning and the Vale of Glamorgan Council. Getting medieval was a family learning event held during National Adult Learners Week with a variety of interactive activities and workshops exploring aspects of medieval life. I produced a detailed evaluation report following the event which has subsequently been recognised as an inspirational case study on the NCCPE web site:
A second Getting Medieval event was held in 2011 as part of the Cosmeston community archaeology project.
2004 to present day Exploring Past & Present: Free Humanities Series in the Centre for Lifelong Learning. I established and continue to co-ordinate this monthly series of open access lectures in LEARN providing members of the public with up to the minute tasters of academic research undertaken at Cardiff. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/discoveringthepast/index.html
May 2009 History, Archaeology, Politics and Identity – exploring the dynamics of the past I devised, organised and co-ordinated this free open access history conference in collaboration with Beacons for Wales. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/learn/history/conference.php
May 2007 The Enduring Sin: Slavery Past & Present I established and co-ordinated this open access mini- conference to raise awareness about contemporary slavery on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.
Selected academic conference and research presentations
- ‘A Raging Fury’: Violence, Initiation and the War Band in Ireland and Wales’ delivered at the Leeds International Medieval Congress, (July 2013)
- 'From Riches to Rags: Melkorka, the story of an enslaved Irish princess in Iceland' delivered at the Gregynog Medieval Colloquium, Rich and Poor in the Middle Ages, (February 2012)
- ‘Satire, Slavery and Sin in Warner of Rouen’s Moriuht: An 11th –century account of forced migration’ delivered at the Leeds International Medieval Congress, (July 2010)
- ‘A fugitive slave in Cardiff: the narrative of William A. Hall and Welsh anti-slavery sentiments 1861-65’, (co-authored with Dr Bill Jones), Gelligaer Historical Society Annual Conference, (October 2009)
- ‘Slavery and sin: reconfiguring warrior norms in the societies of medieval Britain’, Archaeology Research Seminar, Cardiff University, (October 2009)
- ‘Satire, Slavery and Sin in Eleventh-century Normandy: Visions of Powerlessness in Warner of Rouen’s Moriuht’, research seminar delivered to the Centre for the Study of Medieval Society and Culture, Cardiff University (March 2009).
- ‘Slavery, Power and Cultural Identity in the Irish Sea Region, 1066 1171’ Delivered at the Conference ‘A Very Human Trade: The Archaeology of Slavery’, Council for British Archaeology North-West Regional Group, Liverpool, (November 2007)
- ‘Sex, Sin and Slavery in Early Medieval England’ Delivered at the Conference Slavery: Unfinished Business, Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), Hull, May 2007
- ‘A Fugitive Slave in Cardiff: The narrative of William A. Hall and Welsh anti-slavery sentiments 1861-65’ (co-authored with Dr Bill Jones) delivered at a Conference on African-Americans and the Celtic Connections, Swansea University, March 2007.
- ‘Slavery, Power and Cultural Identity in the Irish Sea Region, 1066 1171’ delivered at a Conference on Celtic-Norse relationships in the Irish sea in the Middle Ages 800-1200, Centre for Viking and Medieval Nordic Studies, Oslo University (November 2005)
- ‘Slavery and Honour in the Societies of Medieval Britain 800-1200’ delivered at the conference ‘Slavery, Freedom and Unfreedom in the Middle Ages’ at Nottingham University (April 2005)