Tomen y Mur
Distance: 4 mi1es (6.4 km)
Time: 3 hours
Surface: Fields / Generally Rough Terrain
One of the best-preserved Roman military complexes in Britain, the first-century CE ruins of Tomen y Mur is one of Wales’s premier archaeological sites, spread over a considerable slope that offers superb views over a surrounding landscape of bleak though beautiful moorlands. Considerable sections of the fort’s old stone walls are plain to see, as is its southeast entrance with its double-guard chambers, piers, and stone blocks. Other foundations include all of the associated buildings found in a Roman fort, including a military amphitheater, the only amphitheater at an auxiliary fort so far found in the British Isles, and a possible compensation for what was at the time a very remote posting in a largely lawless region.
There is also a parade ground, a bathhouse, a rest house, a winged tribunal mound, and, of course, the site’s most prominent feature-the raised matte, or medieval castle mound adapted by the Normans in the eleventh century. There is an 8-foot-long (2.4-m) bridge abutment that is still intact, a number of well-preserved burial mounds, and in the hills above are the outlines of a series of Roman practice camps.
The fort had a short life: built around 78 CE under the reign of Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the man responsible for overseeing the conquest of Britain, it was abandoned in140 CE. Now under the management of Snowdonia National Park, the site is a circular walk along a series of well-trodden paths, and is at the crossroads of no fewer than four Roman roads. This fascinating glimpse into life on the frontiers of the Roman Empire will involve many hours of contented, trouble-free strolling.