The Romans leave

There has been a lot of debate about when the Romans left Gelligaer.

John Ward, a key figure in the early excavations of the site, believed that the site was abandoned in about AD100. This was based upon the recovery of first-century pottery and seven coins, five of them dated to between AD 69-98.

However, this view changed with the discovery of the Trajanic building inscription that dated the fort to between AD 103 – 111. It was then felt that the fort had been occupied until 130AD. The presence of earlier coins and pottery was related to the earlier wooden fort on the adjoining site.

Over time the finds from the site have been re evaluated and in 1950’s it was believed that the fort was occupied until the end second century AD, and that there were various alterations to the site when it was reoccupied late in the third or early fourth century.

Dr Peter Webster has recently re examined the finds, and it is now firmly believed that the soldiers were withdrawn by 130AD, and that there was some reoccupation late in the third or early fourth century – but there is so little evidence it is difficult to say how significant the occupation was.

After the Romans left the site gradually disappeared from view, and the stone was used to build structures such as St Catwg’s Church. The fact that a fort had once been on the site was retained through the names of the fields – Gaer Fach and Gaer Fawr – and the name of the community – Gelligaer.