The Demetae

"Below the peoples we have mentioned,¹ but more toward the west
are the Demetae, whose towns are:
Luentinum 15*45 55°10 Maridunum 15*30 54°40."

  1. The Silures tribe of South-East Wales and the Ordovices tribe of mid-Wales.

During the Late Pre-Roman Iron-Age the Demetae tribe inhabited a territory roughly equatable with the modern county of Dyfed in south-west Wales. There are only two places of note in the Roman administrative district, both of which are attributed to the tribe by Ptolemy (vide supra). Their hillforts appear to share attributes with those found in the south-western peninsula of England.

Other passages in Ptolemy Book II Chapter 2 give the ancient names of a few geographical features within the territories of the Demetae:

The Civitas Demetarum
The Principal Tribal Centre

Moridvnvm (Carmarthen, Dyfed)

The only Romano-British settlement of note within the demesne of the Demetae was the vicus or roadside settlement outside the Flavian fort at Carmarthen. It has been suggested that the administration of the tribe was carried-out from here, under the watchful eyes of the Roman military. The town would thus have been known as Moridunum Demetarum, or the civitas Demetarum, the Romanized civitas capital of the tribe.

The Tribal Πολεις Assigned by Ptolemy

Lventinvm(Dolaucothi, Dyfed) - The site of the only Roman gold mine in the province of Britain (see below).
Moridvnvm(Carmarthen, Dyfed) - The probable cantonal capital (see above).

Romano-British Industries

The only industry of note within the territories of the tribe were the gold workings at Luentinum (Dolaucothi, nr. Pumsaint). These mines would have been under tight military control and completely out of the hands of the local tribal magnates whose ancestral lands had been requisitioned by the Roman authorities, probably with little or no compensation.

Other Romano-British Buildings in the Canton

A Demetaran Nobleman ?

Gildas, writing in the mid-6th century, mentions one 'Vortipor, tyrant of the Demetae.' (Ruin of Britain, xxxi.1)

Bibliographical Links

See: Town and Country in Roman Britain by A.L.F. Rivet (Hutchinson, 1958);
The Geography of Claudius Ptolemaeus, trans. by E.L. Stevenson (Dover, New York, 1991);
Atlas of Great Britain by the Ordnance Survey (Country Life, 1982);
Historical Map and Guide: Roman Britain by the OS (4th Ed., 1990);