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Roman Britain

Roman Road Uncovered in Wales

Edited from BBC News, 17 June 2007

It was announced in 2007 that a Roman road had been found by workers who had been tasked with building a natural gas pipeline across Wales.

The historic roadway was discovered in the Brecon Beacons, on the path of the 320 kilometre-long National Grid pipe from Milford Haven to Gloucestershire. Neil Fairburn, archaeology project manager for National Grid, stated at the time that the road was found as digging began, but the pipe would still have to cross it.

A local community councillor said that he was hoping the find would be looked after despite the ongoing work. Neil Fairburn estimated that the road dated from the first century AD, stating that it was in 'a better condition than we would normally find a Roman road', but that a three-metre section of it would still be lost.

'It was in an area in which we suspected there may be a Roman road, as it's in close proximity to the Roman fort,' he said. 'It is typical of Roman roads. It's one of those which 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 which had been 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.

Fairburn said that the discovery of the road which 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'.


Neil 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 46cms below the surface

Richard Field
Community councillor

The community councillor, Richard Field, from Cradoc near Brecon, said the discovery inside the Brecon Beacons National Park had surprised local people. 'It's incredible. It's only about forty-five centimetres below the surface,' he said. 'This road runs alongside the camp and must link up from a road which comes 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 that it's not obliterated but is instead made available to subsequent generations.

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



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