Page images
PDF
EPUB

kinds, and of coloured glass, superimposed in layers, one over the other? Objects of this kind are always valuable. 28. Minute descriptions should be given of the substance and composition of any articles that may be found; fragments of marble should be kept; and in general whatever objects are found in excavations amongst Roman buildings should be carefully preserved, until an opportunity occurs for consulting some well-informed antiquary respecting them. It should be remembered that all such remains are of far greater value when placed in a public museum, where they can be inspected and compared, than when locked up in the cases of a private collection. And in the event of its being found inconvenient to preserve the remains of Roman edifices, &c., by erecting suitable buildings over, or fences around, them, good taste and sound moral feeling equally demand that these remains should not be appropriated to common purposes, but should be carefully covered up again with their original soil; so that, at least, the friendly bosom of the earth may again give them shelter, and preserve them for a more intelligent generation.

ON THE ROMAN ROADS IN CAERNARWONSHIRE AND MERIONETHSHIRE.

DURING the summer of 1845 a party of antiquaries explored that portion of the Roman road in Caernarvonshire which led from CoNovIUM to Aber, on the way to SEGONTIUM, and an account of their proceedings was given in our pages (No. I., p. 70, et seq.) In the month of July last, it was determined to carry on the system of observations, and, if possible, to complete the survey. Several circumstances, however, hindered the attainment of results as decisive and as clear as could be desired. The weather, throughout nearly the whole of that period, was such as greatly to impede all operations on the higher grounds; and again, various engagements prevented the party from consisting of more than two, -James Dearden, Esq. and the Rev. H. L. Jones. Such as the results are, however, we lay them before our readers, premising that we still look for further information upon the subject from future investigations, and that we consider the observations of these gentlemen as only opening the way to a fuller solution of the question. On examining the geographical positions and bearings of the two principal stations in Caernarvonshire, CoNovium, and SEGONTIUM, and on carefully considering the physical features of the country, it was evident that the road from Aber (where the survey of 1845 left it) to SEGONTIUM would have to be looked for along a line passing through the parishes of Llanllechid, Llandegai, Bangor (or its district Pentir), Llandeniolen, and Llanbublic, or Caernarvon. But it was also to be expected that, from all this tract being under cultivation, few positive indications would be met with. The party commenced at Aber, and found there an old line of narrow paved road, said by local tradition to be the Roman Road, running from behind the church in the direction of Llandegai. Nothing could be heard of any Roman remains having ever been observed at that spot; nor did the formation of the road itself, which was uneven and deviated greatly from the straight line, bear any thing Roman in its appearance. Between this road and the new coach road, about a quarter of a mile from Aber, is an artificial work in a field, partly circular in form, which may have been made by the Welsh, but at what period is quite uncertain, to defend the passage through these low grounds. On the northern side of the coach road, opposite this work, is a tumulus overgrown with trees, but sufficiently apparent. The survey was continued without any success, or the slightest indication of a Roman road, along the old line of road, as far as the ancient Manor House of Cochwillan above the Ogwen. The stream is fordable at so many places that it was hopeless to look for any remains of a Roman bridge across it, nor have any been heard of; but on the western side of the river tradition and local memory pointed out the existence of an old line of narrow road, going exactly in a straight line between SEGONTIUM and Aber, and passing by Cochwillan. Further on towards Caernarvon, upon the same line, stands the house of Ty Coch, at which, some years ago, was dug up a Roman inscribed stone, said by those who saw it to have been a Roman mile stone. This relic (which served to fix one point, and therefore to limit the general bearing of the line) was in the possession of Mr. Davies, of Bangor, for a considerable period, but it is not now to be found. However it is not impossible but that in future times it may still come to light; and, whenever this happens, we hope its final resting place will be the Caernarvon Museum. From hence to SEGONTIUM some faint indications of a raised way appeared at intervals in the fields on the side of the valley opposite to Dinas Dinorddwig, from whence it was inferred that the Roman road did not go, as is generally believed, to that very remarkable post, which indeed is of British formation; but rather that it continued along the northern ridge of the valley until it came up to the fortified walls of SEGONTIUM. It is said that traces of this road were found within memory upon certain common lands near the station; but no information worthy of dependence could be obtained on this point. It was considered, however, that the occurrence of the stone of Ty Coch, joined to the other faint indications whether of tradition or of observation, justified assent to the common opinion, which has always indicated a line in this direction as that used by the Romans. At SEGONTIUM itself the most diligent researches have not shewn where the ancient roads left the station, nor in what manner two of them crossed the Seiont, but it is probable that the passage was in each case effected by a ford. One road, at least, is traceable distinctly in part of its course, running towards the post of Dinas Dinlle, where, though the work itself is of British character, yet the occurrence of Roman coins entitles us to believe that it was held by a Roman force. This strong post was very probably used as a defence for the entrance of the Menai, which since those ages may have greatly changed its form; but no traces are known of any other road leading away from it towards the S.E., whence we infer that it was strictly a maritime post, and not one of internal defence. It next became desirable to trace that portion of the Roman communications which intervened between SEGONTIUM and HERIRI MONs, on the road to MEDIoLANUM, RUTUNIUM, and URICONIUM ; and it was determined to trace it both out and in, by going to HERIRI MONs and back again. The distance of twenty-four miles assigned by the Itinerary to HERIRI MONs from SEGONTIUM, and the indications of former explorers, pointed out Tommen y Màr, near Trawsfynydd, as the site of the station sought for; to this point therefore the

operations of the party were directed. Going, as they did, to judge merely by their own inspection and by the aid of local tradition, it was found not to be so easy to discover any traces of a way from SEGONTIUM, as from HERIRI Mons back again, and we shall therefore give merely the result of their researches on their return. They found Tommen y Mūr to be a well defined Roman station, about 200 yards by 300; the agger preserved on three sides, with an enormous mound raised artificially at the northern end. This station lies on the S.E. slope of a hill, and commands a view all down that remarkable valley which the Roman road, Sarn Helen, descends from thence to Dolgelleu; as well as of the mountainous regions, where the same road running northward passes over an arm of Manad Mawr, by Bwlch carreg y fran, above Ffestiniog to Dolwyddelan, Llanrwst, and CoNovIUM. A sight is also obtained, over very rough ground, towards Pont Aberglaslyn and Snowdon. By the western side of the station runs a Roman road, appearing as a deep ditch, branching off from the Sarn Helen (which comes a little to the eastward and joins the road from MEDIOLANUM) towards Maentwrog and Ffynnon Helen. The walls of the adjacent fields were found full of Roman bricks and tiles; part of a Roman wall is laid bare in one spot, and forms a kind of square apartment; and the party, being provided with a light pickaxe and crowbar, such as are used by foumart hunters, were enabled to dig into and lay open portions of another wall or house. No indications of coins, or other objects of Roman fabrication, could be obtained there; but it is believed that some of the Roman remains preserved at Plas tan y Bwlch, and in other collections in this neighbourhood, came from the spot in question. The weather here cut short the operations of the party, and prevented them from going over the line from thence to CoNovIUM, a portion of which is in good preservation, and about the direction of which, throughout nearly the whole of its extent, hardly any doubt exists. The ground between Tommen y Màr and Pont Aberglaslyn is so peculiarly difficult, that its examination could not be attempted at the time of this visit; but there are almost certain indications of one important point along its course at Ffynnon Helen, Helen's fountain, where a portion of a very ancient paved road exists; and where tradition says that Helen was with the van of her army when she heard of her son Constantine being killed under Mynydd Mawr, on the road from SEGONTIUM. The party were able, too, to decide on the improbability of this road having entered the Snowdonian range (ERYRI) except by the natural opening of Pont Aberglaslyn. It appears, however, that traces of several very ancient roads along Cwm Croesor, and round the skirts of Manad Mawr, as well as by Penygaer, and Cwm Ystradlyn, are still visible; but whether these are British, or have any connection with the Romans, must be left for future determination. Along the precipitous sides of the Pass of Pont Aberglaslyn no trace of any pathway, except the actual road, was discernible; and it is by no means improbable that where the present bridge stands, and nearly coincident with the present road, the Roman troops crossed the stream and pursued their way to SEGONTIUM. It was supposed that some traces of an intermediate station would have been found near Beddgelert, dividing the long march of twentyfour miles into equal portions. All the vallies therefore, including the strong British post of Dinas Emrys and two smaller British posts just above the village of Beddgelert, were carefully examined with this view; but nothing Roman could be discovered. No traces of raised or sunk roads, no. bricks, nor coins could be heard of or seen. Between Beddgelert and the foot of Mynydd Mawr on the S.W. side of the valley, and at some distance from the modern road, the party came upon the very evident track of an exceedingly ancient road, resembling in all respects that which they had found leading from CoNov1UM to Aber. It is not used as a road now, but runs across enclosed fields; it is very visible and is traceable with hardly any interruption for upwards of four miles, to the very base of Mynydd Mawr, under Castell Cidwm, where tradition says that Constantine was shot by an arrow. Above Llyn y Gadair, N.W. of Moel Fryn, and close to the side of this old road, is a tumulus, which has been opened in former days, and contains a kind of tomb or kist-vaen within it, very similar to those on the mountains above Aber. From the summit of Moel Fryn there is a sight to the neighbourhood of Tommen y Már (HERIRI Mons). Here the road, which

« PreviousContinue »