BBC Wales captures the broad reach of archaeology
CPAT gets asked to advise on all manner of archaeology-related topics, though seldom as part of tracing someone’s family history. That is what happened when one of its Heritage Management Archaeologists was recently interviewed by BBC Wales Today, the evening regional news programme, as part of a local man’s claims that he is descended from a Roman soldier. Using ground-breaking DNA analysis, he believes that his ancestor originated in modern-day Croatia and ended up stationed at Caersws, central Powys!
We were of course unable to give hard evidence for any direct line of descent, but we could shed light on the known history of the Roman occupation of Wales and its borders. This included the Roman military’s well-documented practice of sending foreign nationals from conquered lands to ‘serve’ the Empire in overseas locations. It is just feasible that one such (un)fortunate arrived in Chester (Caer) as part of the 2nd or 20th Legions, and helped establish the major fort and two impressive amphitheatres. It is equally possible, though not provable, that the same individual was later garrisoned at the substantial fort at Caersws, where native 'interaction' prevailed.
Though unable to provide incontrovertible evidence on this occasion, it reveals how archaeology reaches the whole of society, whether collectively or, as in this case, in ways rather more personal.