Red River Archaeology Ltd was commissioned to undertake a programme of archaeological work in St Edeyrns. This housing development project to the north-east of Cardiff involved the construction of 1020 new homes along with associated retail centre, two primary schools and community amenities; to be delivered in four phases.
Two important archaeological sites were recorded, the first was a late Iron Age – early Roman enclosure. This produced evidence for multiple phases of occupation and industrial use that lasted until the 2nd century. Industrial residues indicated the site had been a centre of iron smelting and smithing activity. The range of pottery recovered also provided evidence for a rural low status settlement, however the concentrated finds of near intact Iron Age pottery vessels suggested the site may originally have had a more important character.
The second of the sites excavated was a 2nd to 3rd century potential Roman shrine. This consisted of an enclosure ditch with internal bank, with the internal dimensions being suggestive that this structure could represent a temple or shrine site, with the ditches forming the temenos or sacred enclosure. The dimensions of the St. Edeyrn’s enclosure are consistent with known examples in the Roman Empire, and seem too small for domestic use. There was little evidence for an internal structure as the area had been heavily truncated by modern ploughing as evidenced by the missing south-eastern side of the enclosure, however the location of significant amounts of pottery at one side of the enclosure would indicate a concentration of activity in the southwest side. The earliest material on the site would suggest activity from the 2nd century, but more likely focused on the 3rd century. The enclosure overlooks the Rhymney River valley and would have been visible on the forward slope of the hill from the Roman Road from Caerleon to Cardiff (RR60b) on the high ground to the south, with the putative entrance easily viewed by any road users.