Y Bwlwarcau

Iron Age Hillfort

Y Bwlwarcau is believed to be a hillfort that likely dates back to the Iron Age period, around 800 BC to AD 74. It is located on the eastern facing slope of Mynydd Margam and is one of the largest and best-preserved forts in the area, characterized by its pastoral function. The hill-slope position and the presence of a small central enclosure with widely spaced banks outside suggest that its main purpose was related to stock-raising rather than territorial defence.

The layout of Y Bwlwarcau hillfort is complex and can be difficult to comprehend on the ground due to the large area it covers and the presence of numerous low banks. The central area of the hillfort is a small, roughly pentagonal space enclosed by a bank and a steep-sided ditch that can be up to 2 meters deep, which is believed to have served as the living quarters for the fort’s occupants. The main entrance is a simple gap located on the eastern side of the fort.

Outside the central enclosure, there is a larger area that is surrounded by two or more concentric small banks and ditches, which may be earlier than the inner ones. These converge on the north-west side where an old trackway enters the area through a simple gap that is thought to be an original entrance. Along the north side, at the top of a steep valley, the multiple banks give way to a single scarp, ditch, and counterscarp bank. Some of the outer banks on the east side have been obscured by cultivation and field boundaries, but an entrance gap is still visible in the middle, with a hollow causeway running from it to the entrance of the inner enclosure.

In the south-east corner of the hillfort, there is a rectangular enclosure that is surrounded on the north, south, and west by a shallow ditch and discontinuous inner and outer low banks. The purpose and function of this enclosure are not entirely clear, but it adds to the complexity of the hillfort’s layout and may have had a specific role within the overall fortification.

Y Bwlwarcau hillfort is a significant archaeological site that provides insights into the Iron Age settlement patterns and societal organization in the region. Further research and investigation may reveal more about its development, function, and the lives of its inhabitants during the Iron Age period.

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