History Files
 

 

Roman Britain

Roman Road Uncovered in Wales

Edited from BBC News, 17 June 2007

 

 

A Roman road has been found by workers building a natural gas pipeline across Wales.

The historic roadway was discovered in the Brecon Beacons, on the path of the 190-mile (320km) National Grid pipe from Milford Haven to Gloucestershire.

Neil Fairburn, archaeology project manager for National Grid, said the road was found as digging began, but the pipe would still have to cross it.

A local community councillor said he hoped the find would be looked after.

Mr Fairburn said the road, which he estimated as dating from the first century AD, was in "a better condition than we would normally find a Roman road", but a three metre section of it would be lost.

"It was in an area where we thought there might be a Roman road, it's in close proximity to the Roman fort," he said.

"It is typical of Roman roads, it's one of those that link mid-Wales, between the forts of Carmarthen and Llandeilo, through Brecon.

Maridunum Demetarum (Carmarthen) was a Roman "civitas" or tribal town of the Demetae tribe of Britons. The Romans established a presence here in AD 75 with a military fort, but the civitas soon grew to include an amphitheatre (one of only seven surviving in Britain), the remains of which are still visible.

In early 2003 a survey at Dinefwr Park revealed the remains of two forts, built in the first century AD during the Roman conquest of Wales.

The Roman army first entered Wales around AD 47, but it was not until the early AD 70s that a concerted programme of conquest led to the establishment of a network of forts across the country.

The presence of one of these forts in Llandeilo (Carmarthenshire) had long been suspected. The town is midway between the forts at Llandovery and Carmarthen about a day's march from each and therefore seemed a likely location.

Mr Fairburn said that the discovery of the road that linked the two locations "...gives us the opportunity to look at the construction process in the Roman period. In places, you can see where the carts have pressed down on the stone."

'Significant'

Mr Fairburn said his team of around twenty archaeologists in the area were recording it. He added that the pipeline would cut through part of the road but there were "significant parts we can preserve in situ. There won't be any significant damage. The county archaeologist has been out, he has looked at it, he's entirely happy with what's going to happen."

  It's incredible. It's only about 18ins below the surface

Richard Field
Community councillor
 

Community councillor Richard Field, from Cradoc, near Brecon, said the discovery, which is inside the Brecon Beacons National Park, had surprised local people.

"It's incredible. It's only about eighteen inches (45cms) below the surface," he said.

"This road runs alongside the camp and must link up from a road coming from the camp. It doesn't point directly at the camp.

"We used to play the village cricket match on this field. We'd sit on a slightly raised area to get a better view and didn't realise we were sitting on the causeway of a Roman road.

"I hope they take some care to look after this find and it's not obliterated but made available to subsequent generations."

A spokeswoman for National Grid said the company took its commitment to archaeology very seriously and had undertaken extensive surveys during the pipeline's planning process.

 

 

     
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