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Roman Britain

Roman Fort Buried Below Park

Edited from BBC News, 24 April 2003

Archaeologists in 2003 announced the discovery of a previously unknown Roman fort under the ground at a park in West Wales. The discovery was made on National Trust land at Dinefwr Park near Llandeilo, and it was thought at the time that it could greatly improve understanding of the history of the area.

Special mapping techniques were used to identify the fort below the surface, although its exact location was being kept secret to allow for further research. It was hoped that, one day, the site could become a flurry of activity as the hidden community was uncovered.

Cambria Archaeology was commissioned by the National Trust to undertake surveys of the parkland. Emma Plunkett Dillon, an archaeologist with the National Trust, said: 'Hints over many years had suggested that there was Roman activity in the area'.

'We have been able to take advantage of archaeological techniques which allow us to discover what is beneath the surface without actually having to disturb the ground in any way. We ended up with such a clear picture that we could identify the ramparts and the street layout.'

At Dinefwr the square or rectangular fort, only part of which was detected by the survey, is overlain by a smaller rectangular fort which was apparently packed with buildings and streets.

Both followed the expected pattern for a Roman fort, a layout which was replicated throughout the empire. It was potentially one of the largest campaigning forts in Wales and was expected to transform understanding of the Roman conquest.

Gwilym Hughes, director of Cambria Archaeology, said it was an exciting find. 'It is an exceptional fort,' he added. 'We know that there are Roman forts in Carmarthen and Llandovery and we always suspected that there was a fort here in Llandeilo because it is half way between these two towns and within a day's march of the two sites.

'Essentially it looks to me as though there are two forts - the early one dating to the immediate period of the Roman conquest of south-west Wales - probably AD 70 to 74. That appears to have been abandoned soon after the conquests were successful. Then they appear to have returned and established a second fort over the top of the original fort, perhaps later that same decade.

'Hopefully we will carry out some further archaeological investigations.'



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