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CANOVIUM (Caerhun) Caernarvonshire, Wales.

The identification of Canovium with the Roman fort at Caerhun derives from a milestone, and is confirmed by the Antonine Itinerary and the Ravenna Cosmography. The fort is at the upper tidal limit of the river Conway, close to the point where the road from Deva (Chester) to Segontium (Caernarvon) crossed the river. Another road led directly through the mountains of Snowdonia to Tomen-y-Mur and the S.

Approximately three-quarters of the fort has been excavated; the remainder lies under the church and churchyard. The fort (140 x 140 m; 1.97 ha), had a small annex of uncertain function on its S side. The original fort, built ca. A.D. 80, had earthen defenses and timber buildings in the interior. Modifications involved the building of stone angle-towers, and later of a stone wall; this was not earlier than ca. A.D. 150. Two of the gates have the usual paired guard-towers, but the portae decumana and principalis dextra have only a single tower.

Little is known of the timber buildings of the original fort; the stone ones appear to have been provided for a cohors quingenaria equitata, and since they comfortably fill the area available the original garrison was probably of the same character. The buildings in the central range consist of a pair of granaries with an enclosed space between them; the headquarters, of standard form; and the commandant's house. This last is on a very large scale, though much of its area may have been taken up with open courtyards.

Between the fort and the river lay the bath house. Originally a simple row-type structure, it later received considerable additions and must certainly have had a long life; no precise dating evidence is available. Nor does the evidence from the fort produce any clear picture. It was apparently occupied until the end of the 2d c. A.D., with no detectable intermission. The coin lists suggest that occupation continued until late in the 4th c., but no confirmation can be found in the ceramic evidence. Possibly the civil settlement continued to be occupied after the fort was abandoned. There is a suggestion that the fort may have been briefly reoccupied late in the 3d c., perhaps under Carausius (A.D. 287-293). The finds from the excavations of 1926-29 are in the Rapallo House Museum, Llandudno. The site of the fort may be detected today as a level platform raised above the surrounding fields, but no structure is visible.


P. K. Bailie Reynolds, Excavations on the site of the Roman fort of Kanovium at Caerhun, Caernarvonshire (1938); W. Gardner, “The Roman Fort at Caerhun, Co. Caernarvon,” Archaeologia Cambrensis 80 (1925) 307-41; P. J. Casey in V. E. Nash-Williams, The Roman Frontier in Wales (2d ed. by M. G. Jarrett 1969) 56-59.


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