Ffordd Fleming

Roman Road

Ffordd Fleming was a Roman road from the Roman Fort at Pumsaint(Luentinum) to St Davids (Menevia/Menapia)Roman Settlement (Menevia/Menapia).

It ran from Loventium (Llanio) to Menapia; that and the Via julia meeting at Menapia, as it met the Sarn Helen at Loventium coming by Caio and the goldmines of the Ogofau from Bannium (Brecon). It was quite distinct from the Via Julia which crossed the Western Cleddeu at Ford on its way from Ad Vigesimtum to Menapia. It was also called Fford, or Sarn Helen, like the road it met at Loventium and Hen Fford (Old Road). Another Road coming from Muridunum and Nidum joined these two at Loventium .

The map shown shows the Codrington 17 route. As can be seen from the text below the Ffordd Fleming is thought to have been four miles north of this road.

Thomas Codrington and the Ffordd Fleming

In  1903 Thomas Codrington mentions the Ffordd Fleming in his book Roman Roads in Britain.

Westwards from Carmarthen the course of the Roman road appears to be that of the present main road for about three and a half miles. It would seem then to have passed north of Castell-y‑Gaer, a British earthwork with a Roman camp in the north-west corner of it, and to have followed the line of roads by Pen-yr‑heol, through Mydrim, by Caerlleon, to Post Gwynne. Fenton tells us that in 1811 the road was discernible in many places through the vale of Whitland after drought, and that there was appearance of a ridge near Post Gwynne; and that the peasants would track the road, called Ffordd Helen, for miles, though except where it formed the modern road there was little trace of it. Four miles west of Post Gwynne is a road in the same direction, called Park Sarnau, with a parish boundary along it for half-a‑mile, crossed by another road in a north-easterly direction, with a parish boundary along it for three miles. After an interval of six miles, a road followed by a parish boundary for four miles runs westward from Castell Hendre, past the remains of a camp a mile north-east of Ambleston, supposed by Fenton to be the station Ad vigesimum of the fictitious Itinerary of Richard. For about two miles west from Ford, and from Brawdy to Whitchurch, the road is marked Roman road on the Ordnance maps to within about three miles of St. Davids.

Parallel to, and about four miles north of this road, is the road called Ffordd Fleming — Latinized into Via Flandrensica or Flandrica. It passes along the top of Prescely mountain with a parish boundary following it for six miles, and it continues on along the tops of the hills eastwards to the borders of Carmarthenshire with the name of Hên Ffordd (old road). It slants down the south side of Foel Eryr, at the west of Prescely, and can be followed on to the north of Letterston. According to Fenton it could be traced into the promontory of St. Davids, and he correctly describes its appearance for the greater part of its length as that of a hollow way, or old unfrequented lane; though he says that on the south of Foel Eryr portions might “be distinctly traced in various stages from an open foss to the perfect raised pavement through soft ground.”​ Fenton’s accuracy has been questioned, and the raised pavement cannot now be found. Many Roman coins have however been found along its course, and it is probably and older road, used, and perhaps improved in parts, by the Romans.

Where does the name Ffordd Fleming come from?

Henry 1 (1100-1135) gathered up all the Flemings in England and settled them in Pembrokeshire. The road became known as the Flemish Road  or Via Flandrica. It was also called by the Welsh  Ffordd y Lladron (“Thieves Road”).

Literary References to Ancient Pembrokeshire

Ancient Pembrokeshire was first referenced by Ptolemy, the Graeco-Roman historian who compiled Geography (II.3.2) in the second century AD, which mentions Octapitarum Promontorium, thought to refer to the Bishops and Clerks islets west of Ramsey Island near Saint Davids Head. He refers to the Demetae , within the region of Dyfed and ascribes to them the two poleis of Luentinum and Maridunum.

In addition to the passage from Ptolemy, the town also receives mention in the Antonine Itinerary, produced in the late-2nd century, as the south-western terminus of route number twelve of the British section. Iter XII is entitled “the route from Muridunum to Viroconium”, and details the 186 mile journey from Carmarthen, the civitas capital of the Demetae to Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter, Shropshire) the capital of the Cornovii tribe. In this itinerary the first town along the route is named as Leucarum (Loughor, West Glamorgan), which is reported as being 15 miles distant from Muridunum. The last appearance of Carmarthen in the classical sources is thought to occur in the Ravenna Cosmology of the seventh century, where the name Macatonion (R&C#61), is listed between the entries for Glevum colonia (Gloucester) and the unidentified stations Epocessa & Ypocessa. The R.C. is notably corrupt, and it is not inconceivable that this entry has been derived from the earlier name for Carmarthen.

Sites near Ffordd Fleming