Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Y Bwlwarcau

A Scheduled Monument in Maesteg, Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)

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Latitude: 51.5837 / 51°35'1"N

Longitude: -3.6788 / 3°40'43"W

OS Eastings: 283778

OS Northings: 188536

OS Grid: SS837885

Mapcode National: GBR H8.CFC9

Mapcode Global: VH5H3.6G09

Entry Name: Y Bwlwarcau

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 4353

Cadw Legacy ID: GM059

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Hillfort

Period: Prehistoric

County: Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)

Community: Maesteg

Traditional County: Glamorgan


The monument comprises the remains of a hillfort probably dating to the Iron Age (800 BC – AD 74). Located on the eastern facing slope of Mynydd Margam, this is one of the largest and best preserved forts in the area of a type which appears to have been primarily pastoral. Its hill-slope position and small central enclosure with widely spaced banks outside are best explained by a stock-raising function rather than the defence of a territory. Y Bwlwarcau is complex. On the ground its layout is rather difficult to comprehend, so large is the area, and so many are its low banks. This complexity may be the result of several phases of development.

In the centre is a small, roughly pentagonal area enclosed by a bank and an impressive steep-sided ditch up to 2m deep. This was presumably the living quarters of the fort’s occupants. The main entrance is a simple gap on the east side. Outside the ditch is an outer bank, ditch and low counterscarp bank which may be earlier than the inner ones. Outside the central enclosure a much larger area is surrounded by two and in places three or more less concentric small banks and ditches. These converge on the north-west side, where an old trackway enters the area through a simple gap which may 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. Cultivation and field boundaries have obscured some of the outer banks on the east side, but an entrance gap is still visible in the middle, with a hollow causeway running from it to the entrance to the inner enclosure. In the south-east corner is a rectangular enclosure, surrounded on the north, south and west by a shallow ditch and discontinuous inner and outer low banks.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of late prehistoric defensive organisation. The monument forms an important element within the wider Iron Age context and may be expected to contain archaeological information in regard to elements such as chronology, building techniques and social organisation.

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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