The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological
Trust Historic Environment Record
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MYNYDD Y GAER (GAER FAWR) LOWER CAMP
Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 00651w Trust : Glamorgan Gwent Community : Briton Ferry Unitary authority : Neath Port Talbot NGR : SS76579425 Site Type (preferred type first) : Iron Age Hillfort Status : Scheduled Monument
Summary : The NW of the camp is surrounded by 240m of ruinous rampart. The northern outer banks have been destroyed by cultivation but the other remains are well-preserved. In the centre is an oval enclosure, 55m by 33m, about 0.1ha.There are two probable entrances.
Description : Mynydd y Gaer Camp is located about 4 km south of Neath, westwards to Pontrhydyfen, on the slopes of Mynydd y Gaer Fawr. On the summit of the hill, 700m to the south is Buarth y Gaer fort (prn 00679w). The NW of the camp is surrounded by 240m of ruinous rampart, below which the slope is much steeper. The ground rises gently in the SE. The north outer banks have been destroyed by cultivation but the other remains are well-preserved (CADW 1986; RCAHMW 1976). In the centre of the site is an oval enclosure, measuring 55m in length and 33m in width, covering an area about 0.1ha. Today only the south is present but it may originally have been entirely defended by two banks and ditches, with a counterscarp bank, with a total width of about 25m. There are two probable entrances: the main being located on the west, and the second, probably the original entrance, is situated on the south-east, consisting of a gap leading diagonally through the defences. An intermediate bank survives on the south-east and remains in a highly damaged state on the west. Beyond this is an outer bank, only surviving on the south-east. Along the west side, the outer and intermediate banks seem to have coalesced, though their junction is damaged. There are no internal structures such as hut-platforms. South-eastwards, are five small cairns (prn 00650w): one within the intermediate bank and four between it and the outer bank, however their relation to the fort is uncertain (RCAHMW 1976).
Gaer Fawr stands on a shelf on the N slopes of Mynydd y Gaer, at about 250m. The fort was roughly symmetrical originally, but now the outer banks on the N have been destroyed by cultivation. Near the centre of the shelf is an oval enclosure 0.1ha, on the S and probably originally throughout it was defended by two banks and ditches, with a counterscarp bank, total width 25m. Main entrance was on the W, but on the SE a gap leads diagonally through the defences, which here show a break in direction; this is probably an original entrance to the central oval from the outer enclosures. Outside the central enclosure the ground rises gently to an intermediate bank which survives on the S and E, and damaged state on the W. Beyond this on S and E only is an outer bank. The outer and immediate banks are both slight. To the E the ground between them is almost level, but to the S it rises steeply and the ground outside the outer bank is invisible from the central enclosure, but is visible from the outer bank, which follows the upper edge of the shelf. Within the outer enclosures on the E two further lengths of bank run parallel to the outer and intermediate banks. They are slight and their function is obscure. On the S, a short length of bank, apparently original curves away from the intermediate bank towards the central enclosure. Along the W side the outer and intermediate banks seem to have coalesced, thought the junction is damaged. From them a hollow trail 3m wide leads inwards for 14m passing the inturned ends of two low parallel banks 12m apart, which form an approach to the W entrance of the central enclosure, where they join the counterscarp bank. Two small pits with inturned ends seem to be original features. No hut platforms are visible, on the SW side are five small cairns, one within the intermediate bank and four between it and the outer bank. Their relationship to the fort is uncertain. (Wiggins and Evans 2005)
Cadw , Application for Scheduled Monument Consent
Wiggins, H and Evans, E , 2005 , Prehistoric defended enclosures in Glamorgan with recommendations for fieldwork
02/Desc Text/Cadw/ Full Management Report/2006/ Copy in further information file
RCAHMW, 1976, An Inventory of The Ancient Monuments In Glamorgan, I, ii, p55-57 (num.690), fig. 30
Helen Burnham, CADW, 1986,Scheduled Welsh Historic Monuments, visit text (sam GM055, last visited in 2003)
West Air Photography, aerial photographs.