The Roman site at Llanfor lies just outside Bala on the northern flood-plain of the Afon Dyfrydwy (River Dee) at the north-eastern end of Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake). The site is only 5 miles from the well-established Roman fort of Cohors Primae Nerviorum at Caer Gai, which leads one to suspect that these two sites were not contemporary; the short-lived site at Llanfor probably being abandoned during the early Flavian period in preference to site at Caer Gai.

The fort measures about 650 feet from east to west by 600 feet transversely (c.198 x 183 m), between the ditches, therefore enclosing an area of almost 9 acres (c.3.6 ha). The defences consisted of a substantial rampart fronted on all sides by three ditches. There were only three gateways, that in the east side is centrally placed, those in the northern and southern defences are off-set a little to the east, there is no gateway visible in the west side, which would merely open onto the water-meadows of the river; the fort was therefore oriented towards the east. The defences of the fort overlie the south-eastern defences of the legionary-sized temporary camp, proving that the fort was the later addition, its large size perhaps again attesting a legionary garrison. The fort’s turf and timber defences show no trace of rebuilding.

The internal buildings are known in considerable detail. These include twenty-two barrack blocks, which could have accommodated 1,760 soldiers. The fort faced east-north-east, where there are indications of an approach road lined with buildings. There are similar traces to the north-east.

The northern fort ditches overlap that of a large temporary camp (NPRN 308244) which may be a later feature. There is little dating evidence, but it is assumed that it pre-dates the Flavian fort at Caer Gai at the opposite end of Lake Bala. A very early Flavian date is also suggested by the few finds from the site and the large size and densely packed interior suggest association with an active force on campaign.

References for Llanfor Fort

  • Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1973-76 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. lxvii (1977) pp.149/50 & fig.15;
  • Air Reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977-1984 by G.S. Maxwell & D.R. Wilson in Britannia xviii (1987, p.11);
  • Britannia ix (1978) p.406; Britannia xxix (1998) p.368 & fig.3 p.369;

Map References for Llanfor

NGRef: SH9336 OSMap: LR125

OS National Grid Reference: SH938361
Dimensions: c.650 x 600 ft (c.198 x 183 m)
Area: c.9 acres (c.3.6 ha)

Roman Roads near Llanfor

SW (5) to Caergai (Gwynedd) NW (8) to Penrhos

Sites near Llanfor Roman Fort