Ancient Monuments

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Gaer Fawr hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Llangwm (Llan-gwm), Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)

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Latitude: 51.6853 / 51°41'7"N

Longitude: -2.8095 / 2°48'34"W

OS Eastings: 344135

OS Northings: 198819

OS Grid: ST441988

Mapcode National: GBR JF.5404

Mapcode Global: VH79X.8W3W

Entry Name: Gaer Fawr hillfort

Scheduled Date: 28 September 2006

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2355

Cadw Legacy ID: MM062

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Hillfort

Period: Prehistoric

County: Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)

Community: Llangwm (Llan-gwm)

Traditional County: Monmouthshire


The monument comprises the remains of a multivallate hillfort, which probably dates to the Iron Age period (c. 800 BC - AD 74, the Roman conquest of Wales). The hillfort is located on the top of a hill with panoramic views in all directions. It is oval in plan, orientated roughly N/S, and measures 462m by 161m. The fort is defined by a series of banks, ditches and scarps, with the most massive banks at the S end. At the N end the outer defences are defined by a large, steep, bank, 4-5m high on the outside and 1.6m high on the inside, which curves around on the W side to become a scarp 4m high, and on the E a scarp 2-2.5m high. Outside the bank at the N end the ground drops away, steeply on the N and W sides, more gently on the E side. On the W side there is an outer scarp, which is steep and around 5m high, below which is a field wall, beyond which the ground drops steeply. The central section of the outer defences on the W side have been disturbed by the construction of a house, but beyond the house the defensive bank continues for around 80m. There is a 50m wide gap in the defences, corresponding with the entrance through the inner defences, before they curve around to the E and peter out. On the E side the outer defences are less massive and less well preserved, surviving as low banks along the line of field boundaries.

The inner defences encircle the highest point of the hill, enclosing an area measuring 281m N/S by roughly 120m E/W, although they are not visible as standing earthworks on the E side. At the N end a roughly triangular area of flat ground separates the outer and inner defences. The inner bank is roughly 4m high on the outside and 1.5-2m high on the inside. On the N side a corrugated tin structure, possibly an air-raid shelter, is built into the outer side of the bank. On the E side the bank is inturned slightly, possibly corresponding with an entrance. The bank curves around the to W before petering out where a track crosses E/W across the hillfort. Beyond the track the rampart survives as a scarp with a steep drop on the W side. Around 2/3rds of the way down the W side the rampart rises to around 3m high on the outside and 1m high on the inside, towards the location of a probable entrance that was infilled in the 20th century. Beyond the entrance the rampart rises to around 9m high on the outside and 4m high on the inside, curving around to the S. At the SE corner the rampart stops abruptly, where it has been truncated by a farm track. Between the inner and outer ramparts on the S and W sides is a ditch that has been reused in the post-medieval period as a trackway linking the several houses that were built along the line of the ramparts.

In the S half of the inner enclosure there is a low oval mound that has been truncated by the track running E/W across the interior of the hillfort. The mound is around 25m long and 1.5m high, is flat topped with large quantities of stone visible beneath the surface. Geophysical survey has suggested that this could be a burial monument, with large flanking ditches along both lateral edges. Geophysical survey has also revealed the presence of a possible square structure on the summit of the hill, and possible roundhouses close to the inside edge of the southern inner rampart.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of later prehistoric defensive organisation and settlement. The site forms an important element within the wider later prehistoric context and within the surrounding landscape. The site is well preserved and retains considerable archaeological potential. There is a strong probability of the presence of evidence relating to chronology, building techniques and functional detail.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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