Aberffraw – The Mouth of the River Ffraw – Aberffraw Roman Fort is a 1st century Roman military fort, with two occupation phases. The site of the fort is underneath the current village.

During excavations in 1973 and 1979 the three-phase defences of an enclosure were discovered beneath the modern village:

  1. The defences of the first camp consisted of a Punic-style ditch just over 13 ft. wide and 6½ ft. deep (4 x 2 m) with a square cleaning slot in the bottom, backed by an earthen rampart surviving to a height of 2 ft. (60 cm). The ditch had been back-filled with rampart material, indicating an ordered withdrawal rather than simply abandoning the site.
  2. The second encampment had a V-shaped ditch almost 12 ft. wide and about 5½ ft. deep (3.6 x 1.7 m). This ditch had been allowed to silt-up.
  3. The camp in its final phase was enclosed by a defensive ditch with a U-shaped profile which, again, had been allowed to silt-up.

The ditches of the first two phases are typically Roman, while the latest ditch probably belongs to the early-Medieval period. Roman finds consisted of two sherds of coarse grey-ware and a single piece of samian pottery; occupation during the Medieval period is evidenced by fragments of carved detail which may be assigned to the 13th century, when a court complex for which there is documentary evidence occupied the site. The site was levelled in the 18th C.

It is possible that the fort is mentioned by Tacitus in a passage describing the aftermath of the attack on Anglesey by the general Suetonius Paulinus in A.D. 60/61.

Anglesey was first invaded by the Romans under Paulinus in ad 60, as described by Tacitus.

… The next step was to install a garrison among the conquered population, and to demolish the groves consecrated to their savage cults: …” (Tacitus Annales XIV.xxx)

However, it could not be immediately garrisoned, owing to the military disaster of the revolt of Boudica. Therefore, the Roman fort probably dates to the subsequent activities of Agricola, who was Roman Britain’s governor in the period c. ad 78–85.

Anglesey Copper

A ‘bun-ingot’ or cake of copper was found at Aberffraw on the south-west coast of Anglesey in 1640. Stamped SOCIO ROMAE-NATSOL, this copper probably had been mined originally at Parys Mountain, smelted in one of the small mining villages nearby, then transported to Aberffraw in preparation for its eventual export to mainland Britain or Ireland. The copper from Anglesey had been instrumental in the development of the British Bronze-Age, and had very likely financed the continued resistance of the Druids against the encroaches of Rome.

References for Aberffraw

  • Roman Crafts and Industries by Alan McWhirr (Shire 1982);
  • Britannia x (1979) p.268; Britain in the Roman Empire by Joan Liversidge (London 1968) p.203/4;
  • Annales by Cornelius Tacitus, translated by J. Jackson (Loeb, Harvard, 1937).

Map References for Aberffraw

NGRef: SH3569 OSMap: LR114

Roman Roads near Aberffraw

None identified

Sites near Aberffraw