NGRef: SH6655
OSMap: LR115, OL17
Type: Camp
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The Roman Camp at Pen y Gwrhyd
viewed from the summit of Moel Berfedd
(height; 1,570 ft., 482 m) looking east
(Picture taken in May 2005)
Roads
None identified

Pen y Gwrhyd - The Fathom's Head

This legionary-sized camp lies at a height of 900 ft (m) above O.D. at the head of the Dyffryn Mymbr on the north-eastern flanks of Mount Snowdon, strategically located at the junction of the passes leading east to Capel Curig, north-west to Llanberis and south-west to Beddgelert. It was very likely built during the first campaign season of governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola in the late summer of 78AD, preceeding the nearby fort at Bryn-y-Gefeiliau which lies some five miles along the Mymbyr Valley to the east. The area enclosed would have been sufficient to house around half a legion, perhaps accompanied by a cavalry alae or two.

N.G.REF DIMENSIONS AREA DESCRIPTION
SH659557 720 x 620 ft
(220 x 189 m)
10 acres
(c.4 ha)
In outline this camp is a regular rhomboid with rounded corner-angles, the north-west and south-east angles are acute, the others obtuse. The entire outline of the camp may either be traced or inferred. The north and south sides each measure about 720 ft. (220m) long and are spaced about 620 ft (189m) apart. The ramparts are of turf with a dumped stone core, which still survives in places about 14 ft wide and 3 ft high (c.4.3m x 0.9m). The sites of the gateways are all destroyed except on the south, where a small gap is visible in the rampart just to the east of the Beddgelert road; there is no apparent titulus or clavicula outwork. The north-east corner is now submerged in a modern pond and much of the east side lost to marshland.

The north part of the camp is occupied by the grounds and buildings of the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, which have obliterated most of the northern ramparts. In the centre of the camp the A498 road to Beddgelert and Porthmadog branches-off from the main A4086 road from Capel Curig to Llanberis and passes through the centre of the north rampart. The main road itself leaves the camp through its western side, destroying all traces of the west gateway, and clings precariously around the southern slopes of the Moel Berfedd which overshadows the camp to the immediate west.

Click here for a map of Pen-y-Gwrhyd from StreetMap.co.uk

See: An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Caernarvonshire - Volume II : Central - The Cantref of Arfon and the Commote of Eifionydd (R.C.A.H.M.W.M. London 1960) pp.31/2 & fig.33;
The Roman Frontier in Wales by V.E. Nash-Williams (Cardiff 1969) p.126;
Journal of Roman Studies xlv (1955) p.121.