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Llanmelin Wood Camps

A Scheduled Monument in Caerwent (Caer-went), Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6294 / 51°37'45"N

Longitude: -2.7791 / 2°46'44"W

OS Eastings: 346168

OS Northings: 192573

OS Grid: ST461925

Mapcode National: GBR JG.8KNQ

Mapcode Global: VH7B9.S95R

Entry Name: Llanmelin Wood Camps

Scheduled Date: 28 July 1933

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2965

Cadw Legacy ID: MM024

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Hillfort

Period: Prehistoric

County: Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)

Community: Caerwent (Caer-went)

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a hillfort, which probably dates to the Iron Age period (c. 800 BC - AD 74, the Roman conquest of Wales). Hillforts are usually located on hilltops and surrounded by single or multiple earthworks of massive proportions. Situated near Caerwent (Venta Silurum), the site is a small multi-ramparted hillfort and was excavated in the early 1930s by VE Nash Williams. It is made up of two features: the main camp, an eliptical enclosure defined by multiple earthwork ramparts following the 100 metre contour and covering approx. 2.2 hectares, and a narrow rectangular ‘annexe’ butting onto the main camp and measuring approximately 120 metres by 70 metres. There is no direct communication between the two. The main camp has a single narrow inturned entrance in the inner of the two angles formed by the junction of the camp and annexe. Entry into the annexe is via a gap in the bank furthest from the camp with no evident defensive features. The annexe is bounded by a multi-bank and ditch system on its longer side and by a single bank and ditch on the other. Inside it are a series of transverse banks and ditches that divide it into three separate bays, with the central one being twice the length of the others. The outermost is bisected by another bank and incorporates the entrance into the annexe. There are no obvious entry points into the other two bays. A track leads up to the annexe and a nearby earthwork enclosure that also shows evidence of Iron Age occupation.

Nash-Williams' excavation of the main camp entrance demonstrated two structural phases: the first in which the inturned bank was strengthened with timberwork with the addition of a timber revetment or possibly a defensive platform, and the second in which the timberwork was demolished, the bank heightened and revetting both sides around the inner end with dry-stone walling and the butt end of the opposite bank also revetted. A layer of trodden occupation soil and a few potsherds in the passageway suggest these alterations post-date the original creation of the entrance. It has been suggested that the restructuring may have occurred around AD 50 in possible response to threats from the Roman army at Caerleon.

The excavations in the annexe indicate that it was constructed slightly later than the main camp, and that the original settlement probably consisted of the camp and the separate ‘outpost’. Occupation within the annexe shows two phases, with the transverse banks overlying hearths in two places. The apparently abrupt end of occupation circa AD 75 may indicate forcible relocation of the native population to establish the new Roman town of Venta Silurum (Caerwent), which under Roman control served as the administrative capital of the Silures. The remains of stone buildings within the camp with finds dating from the late 12th to the early 13th centuries point to a short-lived period of reoccupation during the Middle Ages.

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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