Bute Park artefacts could shed light on 16th Century Cardiff

More than 3,000 finds have been buried in silt for more than 300 years

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Artefacts excavated from Bute Park could help our understanding of Cardiff's role in the 16th Century, archaeologists say.

Fragments of the city's burgeoning industry have been unearthed during restoration work on Mill Leat watercourse, west of Cardiff Castle.

They include evidence of potteries, tanners and metallurgy.

Archaeology Wales said the discoveries could shed new light on a period of Cardiff life of which little is known.

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We knew it was a reasonably significant early modern town, but these discoveries help to put it into some sort of context”

End Quote Dr Amelia Pannet Archaeology Wales

The Mill Leat has been a watercourse since at least the medieval period and is believed to have powered a watermill located close to the west gate of the castle.

"The subsequent industrial boom of the 18th and 19th Centuries have obliterated much of the archaeological evidence of Cardiff's roots," said Dr Amelia Pannet of Archaeology Wales.

"We knew it was a reasonably significant early modern town, but these discoveries help to put it into some sort of context.

"Unfortunately we won't be able to make any firm evaluations until all the artefacts we've collected have been sent away for analysis."

Cardiff was a significant part of the Norman/Welsh struggle, changing hands several times between 1100 and 1300.

Mill Leat circa 1940 How the Mill Leat watercourse near Cardiff Castle looked around 1940

However, by the estimated date of these artefacts it had enjoyed several hundred years of peace and prosperity.

Yet despite this the 18th Century writer Iolo Morganwg, is disparaging about Cardiff's prominence, describing it as "an obscure and inconsiderable place".

While this view has generally persisted, the discovery of Venetian glass, pewter spoon and clay tobacco pipe fragments possibly hint at Cardiff having played a bigger role than previously thought.

Jennifer Stewart, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, whose grant helped fund the dig, said: "These archaeological finds promise to tell us so much about how people lived and worked in the past, and hints at the international connections all those hundreds of years ago."

"The rare survival of leather artefacts will be so important to tell us more about how such items were made, and how they were used."

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