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Archaeology of Southeast Wales

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4th May 2010

Exciting Roman discovery found beneath school carpark

The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeolgical Trust is currently working together with Wales and West Utilities, Dwr-y-felin Comprehensive School and Cadw to investigate the remains of a Roman fort called Nidum in the grounds of Dwr-y-felin school, Neath, South Wales

It would have been occupied by a unit of auxiliaries, high quality troops but less prestigious than the legions.

Nidum was first mentioned in a document called the Antonine Itinerary. Drawn up in the 3rd century AD, this is a sort of Roman route-finder, listing the staging-posts for some of the principal routes in the empire with the distances between them. Nidum is mentioned as being on the road from Moridunum (Carmarthen) to Viroconium (Wroxeter in Shropshire), lying between Leucarum (Loughor) and Bomium (probably Cowbridge).

The main fort was discovered in the late 1950s under the playing fields of the school. The earliest fort was made of timber and was only used for a short period (AD 75-80). It was rebuilt on a slightly smaller scale in about AD 80. From about 120AD at least the defences were rebuilt in stone. It seems that the fort was mothballed and then brought back into use several times before finally being abandoned in the early 4th century AD.

The location of only two of the four gates into the fortress are known-they are preserved and can be seen on the opposite side of the Neath Abbey Road. The present excavation may well have located the position of a third entrance, the northeast gate. This would represent the most striking Roman building to be found in Neath since the other gates were identified 50 years ago.

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