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GAER FAWR, GUILSFIELD

Site Details


NPRN 306997

Map Reference SJ21SW

Grid Reference SJ2241513020

Unitary (Local) Authority Powys

Old County Montgomeryshire

Community Guilsfield

Type of Site HILLFORT

Broad Class DEFENCE

Period Iron Age

Site Description Gaer Fawr is a large multivallate Iron Age hillfort crowning the summit of a prominent hill, overlooking the valley of the River Severn. It is a relatively unknown fort, hidden in woodland (NPRN 405701) in the care of the Woodland Trust. The hillfort is roughly oval in shape and encompasses an area some 5.8ha in extent, of which the main summit interior measures 1.26ha. The hillfort defences are remarkably well preserved, with ramparts up to 8m high, predominantly sculpted from the natural slopes - two lines deep on the east and up to five lines deep on the west. Scattered stone on the hill slopes are all that remains of any stonework which once topped the ramparts. Two highly developed entrance arrangements, lead to gateways at the northeast and southwest ends of the fort, with a third smaller entrance on the west. To the south of the fort there is an additional annexe, defined by a bank and ditch and enclosing a roughly triangular area some 0.37ha in extent. No evidence survives above ground for any internal structures, but there is a low lying bank running northwest to southeast across the interior which divides the summit space.

Whilst Gaer Fawr is typical of the large developed border hillforts of this area, it appears to be of at least two phases. The first `early' summit fort encompasses an area roughly 2.7ha in extent, whilst the second phase fort involved an extension to the west which enlarged the interior space by enclosing a terrace below the main summit. It is likely that at this point the original northwest and southeast gateways were remodelled. At this time or possibly later, an annexe was also added to the south of the fort. There is evidence that this addition also involved alteration to some of the defences and either the modification, or possibly creation, of the west gateway. The bank which divides the forts summit interior is an interesting feature; its character is very different to the other earthworks of the fort. Whether this is contemporary with the fort, or possibly represents the later reuse of the site remains to be seen.

A detailed survey of Gaer Fawr was undertaken by RCAHMW in 2007.

Louise Barker, RCAHMW, 25th June 2008

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