Ancient Monuments

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Mynydd y Gaer (Lower) Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Briton Ferry (Llansawel), Neath Port Talbot (Castell-nedd Port Talbot)

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Latitude: 51.6331 / 51°37'59"N

Longitude: -3.7851 / 3°47'6"W

OS Eastings: 276552

OS Northings: 194213

OS Grid: SS765942

Mapcode National: GBR H3.8BNG

Mapcode Global: VH5GV.B6VW

Entry Name: Mynydd y Gaer (Lower) Camp

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2238

Cadw Legacy ID: GM055

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Hillfort

Period: Prehistoric

County: Neath Port Talbot (Castell-nedd Port Talbot)

Community: Briton Ferry (Llansawel)

Traditional County: Glamorgan


The monument comprises the remains of a hillfort, which probably dates to the Iron Age period (c. 800 BC - AD 74). Hillforts are usually located on hilltops and surrounded by a single or multiple earthworks of massive proportions. Hillforts must have formed symbols of power within the landscape, while their function may have had as much to do with ostentation and display as defence.

Gaer Fawr stands about 4km south of Neath, and occupies a shelf on the northern slopes of Mynydd y Gaer, the summit of which, 700m to the south, is occupied by the univallate fort Buarth y Gaer (Gm054). The shelf is outlined on the north and west by the 240m contour, below which the ground falls away fairly steeply; it rises gently to the east and south. The fort was probably roughly symmetrical originally, but the outer banks on the north have been destroyed by cultivation; otherwise, the remains are well-preserved.

Near the centre of the shelf is an oval enclosure, 55m by 30m, area 0.1ha. On the south, and probably originally throughout, it was defended by two banks and ditches, with a counterscarp bank, the total width being about 25m. The main entrance was on the west, but on the south-east, a gap leads diagonally through the defences, which here show a break in direction; this is probably an original entrance to the central oval from the outer enclosures. Outside the central enclosure the ground rises gently to an intermediate bank which survives on the south and east and in a much damaged state on the west. Beyond this, on the south and east only, is an outer bank. The outer and intermediate banks are both slight. To the east, the ground between them is almost level, but to the south it rises steeply, and the ground outside the outer bank is invisible from the central enclosure; it is, however, visible from the outer bank, which follows the upper edge of the shelf. Within the outer enclosures on the east two further lengths of bank run parallel to the outer and intermediate banks. They are very slight indeed, and their function is obscure. On the south, also, a short length of bank, apparently original, curves away from the intermediate bank towards the central enclosure.

Along the west side the outer and intermediate banks seem to have coalesced, though their junction is damaged. From them a slight hollow trail about 3m wide leads inwards for 14m, and passes between the in-turned ends of two low parallel banks 12m apart which form an approach to the west entrance of the central enclosure, at which they join the counterscarp bank. Two small pits within the inturned ends seem to be original features. No hut-platforms are visible, however on the south-west side there are five small cairns (Gm 055B-F), one within the intermediate bank and four between it and the outer bank.

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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