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Reconstructed Iron Age village

Territory of the Silures

By around 1000 B.C. the peaceful times of the past had begun to fade. As a new period of unrest emerged, the traditional open farmsteads began to be replaced by defended settlements. This need to defend was perhaps a result of violently contested claims over the fertile lowlands. Such disputes were probably caused by the worsening climate. This may have driven many people down from the now inhospitable uplands, forcing them to compete with each other for control of the lowlands.

Hillfort at Twmbarlwm

At this time it is likely that the county borough lay within the territory of the Silures. These people were probably ruled by a warrior aristocracy and were later described by the Roman historian Tacitus, as a 'ruddy faced and curly haired people'. During the next five centuries they built their defended hillforts, such as those at Coed Craig Ruperra, Draethen and at Twmbarlwm, Cwmcarn. These forts were defended by earthen banks and ditches, crowned with a timber palisade. Within, a small Iron Age 'village' may have existed. It is unlikely that the Silures lived here permanently and these hillforts probably co-existed with simple defended and undefended farmsteads and settlements.

The Silures traded in a vast array of goods. This was supported by a growing trade network, which spread as least as far as Rome. Often luxury goods were deposited in the graves of the ruling aristocracy. Perhaps this symbolised their wealth and social standing and ensured that their treasured possessions would accompany them to the 'after-life'. The actual graves were generally plain, a move away from the earlier cairns.

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