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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Archaeologists Return To Abermagwr Roman Villa For New Excavation

Public open day planned at the most north-westerly Roman villa in Wales. 
Abermagwr Roman villa excavations 2010: later stone robbing removed the upper stone walls of the villa, but the clay and stone packed foundations survive well. They can be seen in this view.

Archaeologists Toby Driver and Jeffrey Davies are to return to the excavation of the Abermagwr Roman villa near Trawsgoed, Aberystwyth, to attempt to solve some unanswered questions. For two weeks in mid July, last year’s excavation trench will be re-opened and enlarged so that archaeologists can learn more of the buried Roman villa and its surrounding courtyard.

And as part of the Festival of British Archaeology, the public will be able to visit the site on Saturday 16th July to look at Roman finds, enjoy site tours and try their hand at surveying. There will even be a children’s trench where archaeological skills can be learnt, weather permitting of course.

Roman villas were high-status homes of wealthy landowners which sat at the heart of a farming estate. They are common throughout southern England and south Wales, but rare in mid and west Wales. The nearby Trawsgoed Roman fort, excavated by Dr Jeffrey Davis in the 1980s, was abandoned around AD 130. The Abermagwr villa dates to the late 200s and early 300s AD. The discovery of the most north-westerly Roman villa in Wales, dating to the third and fourth centuries AD, has forced archaeologists to re-think the whole nature of Roman settlement across mid and north Wales.

Abermagwr Roman villa. Reconstruction drawing of how the villa may have appeared, standing within a cobbled farmyard (Crown Copyright RCAHMW).

Toby Driver, an archaeologist with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales in Aberystwyth, explained the significance of the discovery.

“ The late Roman villa at Abermagwr is really a very special discovery for mid and west Wales. It is Ceredigion’s first Roman villa, and the site of Ceredigion’s earliest known slate roof. Nothing else like the Abermagwr Roman villa exists in mid and north-west Wales although there must be other similar sites awaiting discovery. The finds from the site show the incredible Roman supply network which existed 1700 years ago. Abermagwr has produced fragments of a Spanish olive oil jar, and coinage minted in southern France and Germany. The finds can still be seen as part of a special display in the Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth.”
Abermagwr Roman villa. A late Roman coin from the villa

“We are very grateful to local landowner Huw Tudor for allowing us to return to the site. Last year we had site visits from the three local primary schools, and around 300 visitors came to see us excavating over the two week dig. It is exciting to have an open day planned this year on the 16th July, between 10am-3pm. It will be a chance for the people of Ceredigion to see history being unearthed.”

The 2011 excavations are supported by the Royal Commission and Dyfed Archaeological Trust, with funding from the Department of Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, the Cambrian Archaeological Association, Society of Antiquaries, and the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies.

Further information and contact details:
The Abermagwr site can be found on the Royal Commissions’ online database, . Search for ‘Abermagwr Roman villa’ in the Quick Search option. The Internet can be searched for ‘Abermagwr villa’ - there are lots of references and articles already online from its initial discovery in 2009. Alternatively, contact Toby Driver on 01970  621207 or

Further Abermagwr Links:
4th Century Roman Villa Discovered In Wales
Investigating a probable Roman villa near Aberystwyth
Rediscovering a Roman villa in mid Wales

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