Situated upon a low gravel ridge on the valley floor beside the river Clwyd about 220 yards (c.200 m) west of the Roman road between Caer Gai and St. Asaph, this trapezoidal fort was discovered from the air by A.C. and E. Waddelove in 1981 in the fields of Tyn-y-Wern Farm, Ruthin. Two adjoining sides of the enclosure measure around 410 ft. in length, the others are about 610 ft. and 250 ft. long (c.125, 185 & 77 m), enclosing an area of about 4½ acres (c.1.8 ha). The size is typical of a Roman fort purposely built to house a 500-strong cohort of auxiliary infantry.

The possibility that Ruthin was the site of a Roman fort was heightened as a result of the discovery of stake-holes and a pit containing coarsewares of c. AD 70-110 during the course of building work on the Hospital Site in 1981. Subsequent residential development of the Brynhyfryd Park estate, to the east of the Hospital in 1988-89, brought to light more extensive evidence of Romano-British activity in the form of a hollow-way, shallow ditches and gulleys, pits and post-holes with associated artefacts, including south Gaulish samian, spanning the late 1st to the 4th century; the bulk of the pottery being of the late 1st to 2nd century. At least four cremation burials, one set within a rectangular feature measuring 3.5 by 3m, and of Flavian-Trajanic date, were also discovered, together with twelve dug graves, six of which contained residual pottery of the 2nd to 4th centuries. G. D. B. Jones and E. Waddelove claimed Brynhyfryd Park to be the site of a Flavian earth and timber fort, on the basis of some shallow ditches and post-holes, an assertion that cannot be sustained. The ditches and gullies interpreted as those of fort defences and internal buildings transpired to be field boundaries, whilst post-holes claimed to be those of internal buildings turned out to be largely of Post-Medieval date.

Subsequent evaluation work by the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust at Record Street, immediately to the north of Ruthin castle, located sealed Roman deposits which produced smithing waste and pottery dating to the 1st to early 2nd centuries, including south Gaulish samian of c. AD 60-110. There is, thus, every reason to believe that on the basis of the location and the chronology of this artefactual assemblage there is high probability of an auxiliary fort at the very heart of the town, the most likely site being that later chosen by the builders of the Medieval castle. The material to the east of the castle will thus represent the very periphery of a vicus and a cemetery, together with later agricultural activity.

References for Ruthin

  • Britannia xiv (1983) p.280

Roman Roads near Ruthin

Prabable road: E (13) to Ffridd SSW (13) to Penrhos NNW (11) to St Asaph

Sites near Ruthin Roman Fort
  • Colonia Camulodunum (Colchester)
    Colonia, Minor Settlement and Triumphal Arches
  • Chester (Deva) Roman Fortress
    Legionary Fort and Major Settlement
  • Wixoe
    Minor Settlement
  • Cambridge (Duroliponte) Roman Fort
    Claudian Auxiliary Fort (AD 43–54), Temple Or Shrine and Vicus
  • Godmanchester (Durovigutum) Roman Fort
    Claudian Auxiliary Fort (AD 43–54) and Vicus
  • Medbourne
    Minor Settlement and Roman-Building
  • Leicester (Ratae Coritanorvm) Roman Town
    British Civita and Probable Vexillation Fort
  • Mancetter (Manduessedum) Vexillation Fort
    Mutatione?, Pottery, Roman Burg and Vexillation Fort
  • Eaton House (Pennocrucium) Roman Fort
    Auxiliary Fort
  • Whitchurch (Mediolanum) Roman Fort
    Claudian Auxiliary Fort (AD 43–54), Flavian Auxiliary Fort (AD 69–96) and Vicus