Caersws Roman Forts

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Site of the campaign fort east of Caersws

The Caersws Roman Forts were two forts (Latin: castra) in what later became the Roman province of Britannia Superior. Their remains lie beneath and adjacent to Caersws in Powys, Wales.

The map of Roman Britain in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, displaying Caersws.


The original Latin names of these encampments are unknown, although their placement has led to tentative identification with the "Mediolanum" among the Ordovices described in Ptolemy's Geography and the "Mediomanum" of the Ravenna Cosmography.[1] Mediomanum is an unusual and otherwise unattested name (literally "Central Hand"), suggesting it may be a scribal error. Others argue for identification of these sites with Llanfyllin[2] or Meifod,[2][3] while some propose that both sites are identical with the Mediolanum of the Antonine Itinerary, which has been firmly identified with Whitchurch in Shropshire.[4]

If Caersws were the location of Ptolemy's Mediolanum, it might be identical with the Cair Meguaid listed by Nennius among the 28 cities of Britain in his History of the Britons,[5] although this is more often identified with the Powysian court at Meifod.[6]

Campaign camp[edit]

The first fort at Caersws was built in a bend of the River Severn at Llwyn-y-Brain, three quarters of a mile east of the present village. It is large for such a fort and may have been erected in the reign of either Claudius or Nero.

Auxiliary fort[edit]

About AD 78, the campaigning camp was replaced by a permanent square fort for Roman auxiliary troops as the conquest of Roman Wales was consolidated. It was smaller and built closer to the confluence of the Rivers Carno and Severn on the site of present-day Caersws. A bank and triple ditch enclosed 7.75 acres (3.18 hectares). The headquarters building of the surrounding fort walls were rebuilt in stone around 200. There was a military bath house and a civilian vicus. Occupation lasted into the early 4th century.


  1. ^ Roman Britain Organisation. "Mediomanum?" at Roman Britain. 2010.
  2. ^ a b Williams, Robert. "A History of the Parish of Llanfyllin" in Collections Historical & Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire, Vol. III, p. 59. J. Russell Smith (London), 1870.
  3. ^ Newman, John Henry & al. Lives of the English Saints: St. German, Bishop of Auxerre, Ch. X: "Britain in 429, A. D.", p. 92. James Toovey (London), 1844.
  4. ^ Rivet, A L F; Smith, Colin (1979). The Place-Names of Roman Britain. London: B T Batsford. 
  5. ^ Nennius (attrib.). Theodor Mommsen (ed.). Historia Brittonum, VI. Composed after AD 830. (Latin) Hosted at Latin Wikisource.
  6. ^ Ford, David Nash. "The 28 Cities of Britain" at Britannia. 2000.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

History of Wales

Coordinates: 52°31′20″N 3°24′41″W / 52.522221°N 3.411324°W / 52.522221; -3.411324