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BRECON GAER Breconshire, Wales.

The fort at Y Gaer lies 5 km W of Brecon, on a spur overlooking the junction of the river Usk with its tributary the Yscir. The place name Cicutio has been associated with the site, on inadequate evidence. Y Gaer lies close to the road from Caerleon to Llandovery and the W; a few km to the E a road ran S to Penydarren, Gelligaer, and Cardiff, and other road-links with Castell Collen and Neath (via Coelbren) may be presumed.

Excavation has revealed a fort (204 x 154 m; 3.1 ha) with ample provision for the cavalry garrison (ala Hispanorum Vettonum c.R.) which is attested by a tombstone. The original fort, built ca. A.D. 75-80, had timber buildings and earthen defenses; the stone wall was added ca. A.D. 140. The W gate (porta praetoria) is distinguished by boldly projecting square guard-towers. The defenses are still visible, but the internal buildings have been covered over.

The main range (granaries, headquarters, and commandant's house) was of stone in the latest phase; at least two timber houses preceded the stone praetorium. The slight available evidence suggests that none of these stone buildings is earlier than ca. A.D. 140. The unusual sitting of the stone praetorium, well behind the via principalis (it covers the via quintana), suggests a plan (never completed) to abandon the retentura of the original fort and turn the axis 90°, so that the reduced fort would face N. A noteworthy feature is the spacious forehall of the principia, straddling the via principalis; it is assumed that this was a cavalry riding-school.

The barracks and stables at Y Gaer were never rebuilt in stone, and nothing is known about them. A small bath building inside the praetentura and at an angle to the line of barracks and stables is clearly a later addition though it is not precisely dated. It must belong to a period when the garrison was less than the 500 cavalry for which the fort was built. Outside the fort was a substantial civil settlement, stretching ca. 300 m along the road leading from the N gate. Most of the buildings were of timber, but there was a stone workshop. To the W of the fort, another stone building may have been a mansio. The site of the bath house was located, but not fully explored.

It is not certain that regular military occupation at Y Gaer continued beyond the end of the 2d c. A.D. though it is clear that the stone gates were rebuilt at least once. There is slight evidence for reoccupation by a small force late in the 3d c. Presumably the mansio, at least, continued in use into the 4th c. The finds from Y Gaer are now in the Brecon Museum and the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.


R.E.M. Wheeler, The Roman Fort at Brecon (1926)PI = Y Cymmrodor 38 (1926); M. G. Jarrett, “The Roman Fort at Brecon Gaer: some problems,” Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 22 (1966-68) 426-32; V. E. Nash-Williams, The Roman Frontier in Wales (2d ed. by M. G. Jarrett 1969) 48-51MPI; P. J. Casey, “Excavations at Brecon Gaer, 1970,” Archaeologia Cambrensis 120 (1971) 91-101MPI.


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