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Forts and Farms on Margam Mountain Glamorgan

  • Cyril and Aileen Fox

The progress of archaeology in Britain, as elsewhere, depends on excavation. This is a commonplace; but a more leisurely approach to that final arbitrament than is usually adopted would, we think, be advantageous. Until an area is studied, its visible antiquities planned, the evidence afforded by their geographical and topographical relationships weighed, the natural environmental conditions—forest and open country—assessed, and resultant possibilities discussed, the selection of particular sites for excavation in that area is premature. The following account of a field survey of a limited area in Glamorgan is a practical expression of this point of view.

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1 Bulletin, Board of Celtic Studies, 1, p. 66.

2 Parts of 6 inch sheets 25 SE, 26 sw, 33 NE, 34 NW, Glamorgan.

3 This nameless work, on Moel Ton Mawr, has been ploughed down, and shows no features of interest.

4 Much of the steep slopes and lower levels of the mountain are woodland today.

4 They form part of an ancient system of ways along the foothills.

5 This type is common in South Wales, and was figured and described by Col. Ll. Morgan in 1920. The upper defences—the strongest—are usually on the edge of a ridge or plateau. The entrance is on the lower side. The type appears to illustrate a phase of the movement of population from the hill crests to the valley floors.See Arch. Comb., 1920, Ser. 6, 20, 220222.

6 Caer Cwm Philip is nameless on the o.s. map. Caer Blaen y Cwm is called ‘Roman Camp’—a title imposed on it in the late 19th century.

7 Dr Wheeler tells us he came to this conclusion in 1921 with respect to Caer Blaen y Cwm.

8 ‘A sepulchral Monument, with an Inscription, which whoever happens to read, the ignorant common people of the neighbourhood affirm that he shall die soon after. Let the Reader therefore take heed what he does!’ Camden, Gibson, ed. 2, 738.

9 See SirJohn, Rhys in Y Cymmrodor, 1905, 18, 79. This author gave reasons for regarding Vedomavi [= Vedomagui] as a place-name, the termination -magus or -magos (field) being as is well known, of common occurrence in Celtic Europe. But we are assured that the philological difficulties which beset this interpretation are serious, and the temptation to equate Y Bwlwarcau with Vedomagus must be resisted. Undoubted double names occur in contemporary inscriptions, e.g. the Turpillius stone at Crickhowell, Brecon, loc. cit., p. 95.

10 For exact measurements of this and other sites, see Appendix.

11 The possibility that the sites are sheepfolds, both yards and buildings serving solely pastoral purposes, has been suggested to us by Mr Iorwerth Peate. Mr Peate has discovered an enclosure in Montgomeryshire larger than, but closely resembling, the yard of Ty Talwyn B. The hillside is known as Banc y Garlan, the sheep-fold slope; and there is a sheep-washing pool in use today. But nothing resembling the Margam platforms or double-banked structures has been found; and we think that for the purpose of a Field Survey the term ‘Farms’ for our structures should stand.

12 Local tradition is indeed in favour of an earlier date for the ‘Residence’; the Editor has kindly sent us a copy of the testimony of the vicar of Llangynwyd in 1875 concerning it, from the archives of the Ordnance Survey. It is said to have been the dwelling of Cynan, son of St. Cynwyd, the founder of Llangynwyd Church : he flourished at the end of the 6th century. But for Cynwyd, see Baring-Gould, & Fisher, Lives of the British Saints, 1, pp. 274–5.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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