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
= 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
(2d ed. by M. G. Jarrett 1969) 48-51MPI
; P. J.
Casey, “Excavations at Brecon Gaer, 1970,” Archaeologia Cambrensis
120 (1971) 91-101MPI
M. G. JARRETT