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Find out more about Wales and its role in Roman era; They occupied Wales for around 400 years, yet much of their legacy has been lost or forgotten. But, reports Robin Turner, plans are being pushed to make the most of our little-known Roman history.

LITTLE more than 2,000 years ago much of Wales was a battleground.

Ranks of highly disciplined Roman legions bristling with javelins, spears and military tactics fought against Welsh tribes like the Demetae and Silures with their iron weapons, chariots and reputation for reckless bravery.

British leader Caratacus, who fought the early Roman onslaught in battles at Medway and the Thames, decamped to Wales in order to fight a guerrilla war.

Although there are no written records of battles between the Romans and the Welsh tribes, there is little doubt that for the legionaries, the deep forests of Wales became a kind of Vietnam, with traps and ambushes claiming life after bloody life.

Caratacus is thought to have used the Carmarthenshire hill fort of Garn Goch near Llangadog in Eastern Carmarthenshire as one of his bases.

But when Caratacus was finally caught (and pardoned in Rome after his impassioned speech impressed Emperor Claudius) the Roman influence took hold and they would stay for around 400 years.

Now, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, National Trust Wales and Carmarthenshire County Council have received nearly pounds 125,000 from Cadw's Heritage Tourism Project to improve and enhance visitor access to Roman heritage links across key sites in Carmarthenshire over the next two years.

They will seek to deliver projects totalling pounds 165,000 to encourage more visitors and provide a united tourism effort in places in the West Wales count which the Romans made their own.

These include the Dolaucothi Gold Mines near Pumpsaint where the Romans used hydraulic mining (use of vast amounts of soil stripping water to reveal bedrock), the Carmarthenshire Amphitheatre, Y Pigwn marching camp near Trecastle and Caratacus' former lair at Garn Goch.

The so-called Romans in Carmarthenshire project is one of eight heritage schemes across Wales to benefit from a pounds 2.4m pot from Cadw's pounds 19m Heritage Tourism Project which is backed with pounds 8.5m from the European Regional Development Fund The National Park Authority will be investing more than pounds 30,000 at Y Pigwn and Garn Goch, overlooking Llandeilo.

The Carmarthenshire Amphitheatre, thought to date to AD75 is a sign the Romans were well established in the area by that time.

The Romans referred to Carmarthen as Moridunum Demetarum (moridunum meaning sea fort), the amphitheatre providing entertainment for troops and visiting dignitaries plus trusted local tribal figures.

It is now one of only seven surviving Roman amphitheatres in the UK.

Excavated in 1968, the arena itself is 46m by 27m, where the circumference of the seating area is 92m by 67m.

Surrounded by stone walls, it had seating of wood.

Moridunum Demetarum was the civitas capital of the Demetae tribe in Roman Wales and was recorded by Ptolemy and in the Antonine Itinerary (a register of the stations and distances along the various roads of the Roman empire).

Sextus Julius Frontinus was sent into Roman Britain in 74AD to succeed Quintus Petillius Cerialis as governor, establishing a new base at Caerleon for Legio II Augusta and a network of smaller Roman forts 15km to 20km apart for his Roman auxiliary units.

During his tenure, he is thought to have established a fort at Pumpsaint in West Wales, largely to exploit the gold deposits at Dolaucothi.

Following the completion of the military conquest, Wales was integrated into the imperial frontier system, Roman engineers covering the country with military defences linked by a network of Roman roads.

Roman coins or ornaments have been found in West Wales at Carreg Cennen, Cynwyl Gaeo, Dinefwr, Llandeilo Fawr, Llandybie, Llansadwrn, Llanybydder, Llangadog, Trecastle Hill, among other places.

The Roman camp known as Y Pigwn stands at 1,350 ft and consists of two large Roman earthwork camps, carved carefully to the Roman pattern, for occupation by considerable bodies of troops.

It was basically a fort, situated strategically where the Roman road from Brecon Gaer to Llandovery crossed the mountain near Trecastle.

Y Pigwn will benefit from an innovative GPS-triggered multimedia application which will enable visitors to explore and learn about the Roman site with the aid of their GPS enabled smartphones.

A visitor-friendly map of the locality detailing the walks, attractions and facilities plus a reconstruction drawing of the marching camp, will also be produced.

At Garn Goch, a downloadable visitor leaflet will tell the story of what has been described as one of the most spectacular late Iron Age settlements in West Wales.

It dominated the strategic Tywi Valley, which made such a critical conquest for the methodical Roman military planners in their takeover of Wales.

Interpretative seating, from which to take in the magnificent views, will also be installed at Garn Goch.

The project aims to tell the Roman conquest and settlement story in the western area of the National Park's history through the Heritage Tourism Project managed by Cadw which will explore and link to other key Roman sites across Carmarthenshire.

Suzanna Jones, of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: "This investment provides an exciting opportunity to tell the Roman conquest and settlement story at Garn Goch and Y Pigwn and is a unique project in the respect that it connects these remote sites thematically to the regional story of the Roman occupation of Carmarthenshire.

"We aim to use a combination of both new technology and traditional interpretation so everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the stories of these sites and understand they are an intrinsic part of the Brecon Beacons National Park."

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* Y Pigwn will benefit from an innovative GPS-triggered multimedia application as part of investment in Wales' Roman heritage
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 28, 2012
Words:931
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