The Romans Arrive
The Romans invaded Britain in AD 43 and within 5 years the army was fighting in what we now know as Wales. In south east Wales, the local population were powerful and hostile and so it took around 30 years for the Romans to gain the upper hand – as illustrated by the building of the Roman Fortress at Caerleon where the Second Augustan Legion was based from AD74/75.
From this point onwards there were anything up to 25,000 soldiers stationed across Wales. Forts were regularly spaced along the road network to suppress and control the natives – and Gelligaer was one of these forts.
The first fort was probably built in 74 – 78 and was built in earth and timber. It was 174m by 120m – a large camp that could have accommodated 1000 infantry or 500 cavalry.
It appears that a new, smaller stone fort was built to the south at some time between 103 and 111. This construction was the typical, standard Roman format – a playing card shape with defensive ramparts, ditches and towers, four gateways and a buildings such as granaries (Horrea), Barracks (Centuriae) and Commander’s House (Praetorium).