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The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust News - old stories

Esgair Perfedd Roman marching camp August 2008

Yet another Roman Invasion

A group of 7 hardy walkers took part in a guided walk on a rather damp 16 August 2008 to look at some of the prehistoric and Roman remains in the Elan Valley historic landscape. The walk began with the exploration of the large and, on the ground now almost invisible, Roman marching camp on Esgair Perfedd lying just to the west of the Mountain Road from Rhayader to Aberystwyth. Low banks are that are all that remain of the camp today, but almost two thousand years ago an invasion army of some 3,000 men camped here for a night or two.

We did not however meet their ghosts - the centurion is, I hope, simply a digital camera trick.

The Roman army built even its marching camps to the same pattern as the permanent forts: they were protected by ramparts and gates and contained tented barracks, headquarters, commissariat and stores buildings.

After spending almost 2 hours exploring the 15 hectare camp we crossed the stream and climbed onto the adjacent ridge to the east where we walked to the Maen-serth standing stone associated in legend with the unlawful killing by Roger Mortimer, in 1170s, of the brothers Cadwallon and Einon Clud, kinsmen of the Lord Rhys. This elegant standing stone was probably actually set up in the Bronze Age, some 2,000 years before the Romans marched across these hills and 3,000 before the days of the Welsh princes whose name is also sometimes given to this stone.

Maengwyngweddw August 2008 Walking north, back along the ridge we also stopped to look at a large Bronze Age burial cairn which was probably 'quarried' in the 19th century during the building of the Mountain Road leaving it with its present bowl-shape. A low stone circle or kerb probably defined this cairn: some of these stones can still be seen on its northern side. Another probably-Bronze Age standing stone lies further north along the bridle way - the white quartz chunk called Maengwyngweddw.

Jenny Britnell, August 2008

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