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Brithdir Roman Site

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Map ReferenceSH71NE
Grid ReferenceSH7720318860
Unitary (Local) AuthorityGwynedd
Old CountyMerioneth
CommunityBrithdir and Llanfachreth
A 54m square platform with rounded corners marks the site of a Roman fortlet midway between the forts at Tomen y Mur and Pennal. First recognised from the air by J.K. St Joseph in 1961, no excavations have been carried out inside the fort but the development of housing on the far side of the road encouraged observations (Dancer 1968) and allowed excavation in 1974-5 (White 1978) and 1991 (Hopewell 1997). This, and geophysical survey in 1993 (Hopewell 1997), revealed a complex and uncertain sequence in the immediate vicinity of the fort, conventionally opening about 74 AD with a polygonal enclosure at least about 100m by 120m. A possible bathhouse and workshops were cleared by about 120 AD, when a road was constructed across the site. The fortlet appears to have been enclosed by a succession of at least two and possibly three, ditched circuits. The ceramic assemblage indicates that it was occupied in the period 125-45 AD.

This may have been a police post or administrative centre. What is interesting is the recognition of buildings outside the fortlet, indicating that that this was the focus for a wider settlement rather than an isolated military post.

Roman roads linking the site to other military sites in North and mid Wales have been identified in the area, including the Caer Gai - Dolgellau route (RR66B: NPRN 303522) and the branches of the 'Brithdir triangle' (NPRN 91903; 309197). The suggested Roman military tower earthworks (NPRN 54526), 1.3km to the east, could be a square ditched funerary monument.

Sources: St Joseph in the Journal of Roman Studies 51 (1961), 130
Bowen & Gresham 'The History of Merioneth volume I' (1967), 241
Dancer in the Journal of the Merioneth Historical & Record Society 5 (1968), 359-62
Jarrett 'The Roman Frontier in Wales' second edition (1969), 130-2
White in 'Monogrphs & Collections I', ed. Boon (1978), 35-62
Hopewell in the Journal of the Merioneth Historical & Record Society 12 (1997), 310-333
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust 'Gwynedd Archaeology 3' (1998)

John Wiles, RCAHMW, 24 May 2007