Hen Waliau (Segontium) Fortlet


There is a small Roman fortlet 150 yards west of Segontium at Hen Waliau (SH482624). This stone-walled enclosure possibly started in use during the third-century as a storage depot for the fort itself. Another suggestion voiced is that the Hen Waliau site was built as a means of protecting the harbour from a height, possibly as a level platform on which to place ballistae, onagri and other Roman artillery pieces. R.G. Collingwood, in his excellent work The Archaeology of Roman Britain, describes this fortification which was built close to the shoreline:

At Carnarvon, the lower fort, 150 yards west of the earlier fort, has its east wall complete, about 230 feet long; of the north and south walls about 120 and 180 feet remain. The walls are 5½ feet thick and up to 12 feet high; bastions were once visible. There are bonding-courses of flat stones and regular rows of putlog holes. The area was something over an acre, and the fort was probably a small Saxon Shore castellum (Segontium, 95).” (Collingwood, p.54)

In the solidly built defensive wall, rows of scaffolding holes could still be seen and the bands typical of late antiquity to strengthen the outer cladding made of flat stones and bricks were installed. Comparable fortifications were also found in Cardiffand Holyhead, believed to date from the reign of Valentinian, around AD 365

This later addition at Segontium was contemporary with similar fortifications at Cardiff and Holyhead, which have been dated to the Theodosian period c.365AD. It would appear that the garrison of the old fort had been reduced by secondment to less than half of its original complement, and during continued raids by the Irish into Wales – likewise by the Angles and Saxons on the south-east coast during this period – the old fort was abandoned because the reduced number of men could no longer effectively defend it.

The depletion of the Segontium garrison is seemingly evidenced by an entry in the Notitia Dignitatum, which places a palatine auxiliary unit suffixed Seguntienses in Illyricum during the late fourth-century. It would appear then, that a substantial proportion of the troops from Segontium had been removed en-masse, sometime before the end of the fourth century to be redeployed in the region of the modern Czech & Slovak Republics.

Sites near Hen Waliau (Segontium) Fortlet