CPAT logo
Cymraeg / English
Back Home
Annual reports
Hillforts and archaeology
Looking after the monument
Beacon Ring and its landscape

Beacon Ring hillfort

© CPAT 85-c-0139

In July 2008 the Trust acquired the magnificent Beacon Ring hillfort which crowns Long Mountain in eastern Montgomeryshire. The main aim of this new venture is to ensure the preservation and long-term management of the site and its environs for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. The interior of the hillfort is currently densely wooded. Now that these trees are reaching maturity it is hoped to find a way of returning the interior of the site to upland meadow, just as it was before the early 1950s.

Little appears to be known about the hillfort – not even the origin of its name. But with extensive views far across mid Wales and Shropshire it would certainly have been a good site for a beacon. Its Welsh name – Caer Digoll (‘Digoll camp’) – comes from Cefn Digoll (‘unbroken ridge’) the Welsh name for Long Mountain. The site has not been excavated, but like the well-known local hillforts at the Breiddin and Ffridd Faldwyn, it was no-doubt first built and occupied at some time in the period between the later Bronze Age and the early Iron Age – after 1000 BC and before the arrival of the Romans in about AD 50.

The hillfort lies close to the ancient border between England and Wales and appears in a number of early myths and legends. One of the earliest of these is in the 9th- or 10th-century saga known as Canu Llywarch Hen (‘The song of Llywarch the Old’), in a passage about hostilities in the 7th century between the British prince Cadwallon and Edwin, the Anglo-Saxon, king of Northumbria. Beacon Ring is described, somewhat poetically, as the lluest or camp of Cadwallon where he stayed for seven months, carrying out seven skirmishes daily.

In the longer term the site will become the focus of a wide range of educational activites to be sponsored by the Trust. In view of concerns about the damage that tree growth and harvesting might have upon buried archaeological deposits one of the more immediate and pressing concerns is to look at the best way of returning the site to a more sympathetic land use regime. Fortunately, we have already gained the ardent support of Dutch archaeological colleagues from the Ruud van Beek Foundation in addressing these issues. Having been shown round the site on a visit to Wales several years ago they became concerned about the question of the sustainable management of archaeological sites in the countryside and have now commissioned us to carry out a study of the various issues involved in acquiring and managing the site.

In August 2018 we will be carrying out four weeks of excavations at Beacon Ring, funded by Cadw and helped by an army of volunteers and students. Click here to follow our dig diary.

Follow these links for further details

Annual reports

Finding out about hillforts and archaeology

Looking after the monument

Learning more about Beacon Ring and its landscape

View Larger Map

From the air you can clearly see the E II R monogram, picked out in pine and beech trees inside the hillfort defences, planted to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, many of which have now reached maturity. The compounds to the right of the hillfort house the two tall masts visible on the skyline of Long Mountain. These were built in the 1970s and 80s, the taller of the two housing the main television transmitter for mid Wales.

Crown copyright

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

How to get to Beacon Ring
One of the most enjoyable ways of reaching Beacon Ring is to take the road uphill from Leighton and then join the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail, at SJ 256053, opposite Pant-y-bwch. This walk of just over half a mile approaches the hillfort entrance from the south-west and gives magnificent views westwards over the Severn valley and mid Wales.

If you have any views about Beacon Ring or would like to help in any way contact Chris Martin at this address.

Privacy and cookies