Inhabitants of Snowdonia (known as ‘Ordovices’) were finally conquered by the Romans in AD 77-78. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, campaigns took place for eighteen years prior to eventual conquest. Earthwork traces in the form of marching camps have been found in the region and may support this account. Marching camps were constructed and used by the Romans as temporary camps by campaigning armies. Practice camps have also been found and these would have acted as training centres whereby soldiers learnt how to set out and build camps. Several of these have been found around the fort site of Tomen Y Mur.
Tomen y Mur (© SNPA)
Centurial Stone (© Our Heritage)
Following the conquest of AD 77-78 a number of permanent military bases, known as forts, were placed in strategic positions across the region. Current evidence suggests that these were abandoned during the second century AD, this may suggest that inhabitants became less hostile to their conquerors or that Roman priority changed. Forts situated in this region typically include internal barracks, accommodation for the commanding officer and granaries. In addition, forts had associated annexes including a bath house, mansio and civilian settlement. At Tomen Y Mur, this also included an amphitheatre. Research suggests that forts from this period would have been built initially from earth and timber and potentially rebuilt in stone at a later date.
Mansio and Bathhouse (© Peter Lorimer & Jean Williamson)
Cae'r Tyddyn (© SNPA)
As part of their occupation, the Romans also established a network of roads that connected forts in the region with others, including Segontium at Caernarfon and Deva Victrix at Chester. These roads continued to be used following the departure of the Romans, this has made identifying links between forts extremely difficult for archaeologists. Nonetheless, investigations have revealed that roads in the region generally consisted of an agger, side ditches and additional quarry pits. Due to the mountainous terrain of the region, Roman roads could not be constructed in straight lines as was normally the case.