Cae Gaer Fort
Fort, Fortlet and Signal Station
The Roman site at Cae-gaer lies in the Cambrian Mountains of mid-wales, deep along the valley of the River Wye within a sheltered cwm overlooking its tributary stream the Afon Terennig from the south. The site now lies in a conifer plantation just south of the modern A44(T) road, about half-way between Llangurig and Ponterwyd. The site is identified as a ‘fortlet’ on the O/S Map of Roman Britain (3rd Ed. 1956), as a ‘fort’ on the O/S Historical Map and Guide – Roman Britain (1994) and the O/S Landranger Maps #135 & 136 (both 1994), and as a ‘signal station’ attributed to the campaigns of Quintus Veranius by Webster (1993 p.113). The reports in the Journal of Roman Studies, however, leave no doubt that this site represents the remains of a turf and timber fort (JRS 1953 p.86, 1961 pp.128/9).
The fort is a parallelogram, its north-east and south-west angles both measuring about 77 degrees, the other two angles each 103°. The west and east sides both measure about 390 feet in length, the other two sides 290 ft. (c.119 x 88 m); the area thus enclosed is about 2¼ acres (c.1 ha), which is rather small for a normal auxiliary fort. The site was excavated in 1913, when the remains of the defensive rampart, still surviving some 16 feet wide and 5 feet high (c.4.9 x 1.5 m), was found to have been equipped with a palisade of 4-inch (c.10 cm) posts along the rampart-crest, sported timber angle-towers and gate-houses, the towers at the north and south gateways had ascensi access to the ramparts, the remains of three of which are still visible.
The normal Roman garrison for a site such as Cae Gaer would have been an auxiliary infantry cohort of a nominal 500 men, a cohors peditata, but this type of unit would have been too large to fit comfortably within the Cae Gaer encampment. It is very likely that the garrison unit was either under-strength, or perhaps split between two small camps; on this basis the site may be better classified as a ‘small fort’, which implies both an under-strength garrison and also the presence of administrative buildings. There is another small Roman fort or fortlet some eight miles to the north at Pen y Crocbren (SN8593), which is an alternate terminus for the road westwards from Caersws; it is possible that the other half of the Cae Gaer garrison unit was stationed there.
Map References for Cae Gaer
References for Cae Gaer
- Rome Against Caratacus by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1993);
- Air Reconnaissance of Southern Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xliii (1953) pp.81-97;
- Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1958-1960 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. li (1961) pp.119-135;
- Historical Map and Guide – Roman Britain by the Ordnance Survey (3rd, 4th & 5th eds., 1956, 1994 & 2001).