Unique Roman Fort uncovered at Neath

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25 March 2011
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Excavation work on the site of a Roman fort near a school has revealed what archaeologists believe are structures never previously seen in the UK. ...

Excavation work on the site of a Roman fort near a school has revealed what archaeologists believe are structures never previously seen in the UK.

The dig in the playing fields of Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive Upper School in Neath has uncovered sections of the defences of a 1st Century building.

These include a tower bastion, partially set outside its ramparts providing a wide field of fire for archers under siege – a fort was in occupation on the site until at least the 3rd Century, known as ‘Nidum’, manned by Roman Auxiliary troops to fight the local tribe of Britons known as the ‘Silures’.

Richard Lewis, head of projects at the Glamorgan/Gwent Archaeological Trust, said: ‘These are some very unusual defences. We can’t find anything like it anywhere else. They did exist 200 or 300 years later but they were very, very unusual.’

The find has rewritten the received wisdom on Roman fortifications; such works were unknown as early as the first century. Not only have they found four trenches and a bastion but also a trench for a palisade – a defensive fence of stakes – to prevent the collapse of the rampart, and possibly to support a lifting mechanism.

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Common policy in the UK regarding known archaeological sites is to leave them until such time as excavations are planned for other purposes – in this case a new teaching block.

The work on the site was finished in mid-February and it will be preserved before the school building work is carried out on top.

 

Find this news story and more in the April/May 2011 issue of Classic Arms & Militaria