The Bulwarks, Porthkerry

Iron Age Promontory Hillfort

The Bulwarks, Porthkerry, located in Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan, is a promontory fort overlooking the Bristol Channel in southern Wales, believed to date back to the Iron Age and continuing to be occupied during the Roman period. The fortification is trapezoidal in shape, covering an area of approximately 4 hectares (9.9 acres), with well-preserved ramparts and ditches along the west side, although the fortifications are now heavily overgrown.

The fort is strategically positioned at the end of a spur facing west, overlooking the now silted-up Porthkerry creek. The natural slopes are steep on the south-east and north sides, while the west side, which is now bounded by the edge of the cliff along the shore, was likely fortified in the past but has eroded away. The entrance to the fort is believed to have been on the middle of the west side, with gaps in the ramparts and causeways across the ditches.

Limited excavations have indicated that the Bulwarks fort was occupied from the Iron Age into the Roman era. Pottery remains from the site suggest occupation from around 200 BC to 75 AD, before the arrival of the Romans in South Wales. Excavations in 1968 revealed traces of three rectangular buildings inside the innermost west rampart, with the earliest possibly pre-Roman. The second building was occupied from the late first century AD to the mid second century AD, before being burned down. A third rectangular building, approximately 10 feet wide and at least 30 feet long, was then erected, with evidence of occupation until the late third or fourth century AD.

Currently, the defensive walls of the fort are covered in thick vegetation, but the site is scheduled as an ancient monument by the Ministry of Public Building and Works.

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