St Davids (Menapia) Roman Settlement

Possible Roman Settlement

Menevia is said to be derived from Menapia, the name of an ancient Roman settlement supposed to have existed in Pembrokeshire, or Hen Meneu (vetus rubus) where St. David was born. It was the Welsh Mynyw, and Roman Menevia or Menapia, at the terminus of the two great roads Via Julia and Via Flandrica, or ford Flenning. Remains of the Roman town are supposed to have been discovered about 2 miles N.W. of the present city, under the sands of Whitesand Bay. The earliest mention in history is towards the close of the 5th century, when St. David, who succeeded Dubritius in the Archbishopric of South Wales, transferred the see from the ancient city of Caerleon to the wilds of Menevia, and attracted thither many distinguished pupils by his learning and piety, which became widely renowned after the famous synod at Llanddewi-Brefi, in which by his preaching he checked the spread of the Pelagian heresy then on the increase.

Carausius, a Roman general, Asser, the friend of King Alfred, and Fenton; the author, were born in St. David’s.

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.

Other references to place-names in the county come from a forged work, The Description of Britain , supposedly by Richard of Cirencester. This includes an itinerary of Roman Britain, listing a road known as the Via Julia west of Moridunumto Ad Menapiam (Saint Davids), via Ad Vigesimum (a supposed Roman station located in north Pembrokeshire). The authenticity of this document was widely acceptedwhen it was first published in 1757 by Charles Bertram, but proved a forgery by Bernard Woodward, Librarianin Ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1847. Richard of Cirencester was actually a fourteenth century monk andhistorian at the Benedictine Abbey of Westminster. This has understandably deterred some investigators from attempting to trace a route along this general course. Yet, there are many tantalising clues from place-names and archaeology that suggest that a route approximating to the ‘Via Julia’ may exist.
Two Roman Villas were found at Upper Newton Roman Villa and Castle Flemish.
Sites near St Davids (Menapia) Roman Settlement