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Tomen y Mur - Roman Fort - Trawsfynydd

Description

Welcome to Tomen y Mur 

Look closely at the landscape around you and you will find evidence of Tomen y Mur's buried remains. The mound in front of you was built by the Normans over the remains of a Roman fort. Follow the way-marked trail to discover traces of a small amphitheatre, bathhouse and parade ground as well as the fort itself. 

In the medieval Mabinogi legends, Tomen y Mur is Mur Castell, court of Lieu Llaw Gyffes. An extraordinary character, he overcomes terrible curses and the treachery of his wife, Blodeuwedd, who was created magically from flowers, to become King of Gwynedd. 

The Romans invaded Britain in AD43 but it took over thirty years for them to conquer north Wales. The main army base was at Chester (Deva) and the fort at Tomen y Mur was part of a network of forts and roads controlling movement through Snowdonia. It was originally an earth and timber structure but was rebuilt as a smaller stone-fort in about AD120. It was home to 400-500 troops. 

By AD135, around 60 years after it was established, Tomen y Mur was abandoned, like most forts in north Wales. Only Caernarfon and Holyhead, harbours protecting Gwynedd from attack from the Irish sea, continued. The Romans withdrew from Wales in about AD400. 

 

North-East Gateway 

The fort was originally made of earth banks and wood but in AD120, soldiers were needed to fight in northern Britain and many left Tomen y Mur. With fewer soldiers here, the site was rebuilt in stone as a much smaller fort. Within the fort stood two granaries, long buildings raised on pillars to protect grain from mice and rats, and six barrack blocks, where the soldiers lived. A timber aqueduct brought water to the fort. 

The trail continues past the reconstructed wall then round the motte to the centre of the fort. 

Norman Occupation

The Normans used Tomen y Mur when William II (William Rufus) and Henry I campaigned against King Gruffudd ap Cynan of Gwynedd in the 11th-12th centuries. The mound inside the fort is a Norman motte, made of earth and stone taken from the Roman principia building. The motte was the base for a wooden castle.

 

Centurial Stone 

Can you believe that a cow house (beudy) built into the wall of the fort was hit by a bomb during World on War II? In 2007, Roman stone from the remains of the beudy was used to make this reconstructed part of the fort wall shown in pictures.

Can you find the small inscribed stone plaque o'r shown here? It is a replica of one of ten Latin lyn 'centurial' stones found at Tomen y Mur that marked the building of separate sections of the au fort's watt by different groups of soldiers. This one names the group of centurion (officer) Julius Perpetuus. 

The inscription reads: NVLI PERPETVI .P.XXXIX 

 

Civilian Settlement 

The Roman road leading to the north-east gate of the fort. Archaeological surveys have shown that there was a small village, or vicus, here. Imagine the wooden shops, workshops, houses and garden plots that lined either side of the road.

 

Amphitheatre 

There is a small amphitheatre, or 'ludus', which was used by the Roman soldiers for weapons and fitness training and possibly entertainment, such as theatre. There would have been wooden seating and walling on the earth bank, with an arena floor of about 30m diameter at the centre. It is difficult to see the bank clearly because of the later stone wall on part of it and the line of a 19th century quarry railway which crosses it.

 

Location

North Wales
Trawsfynydd

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