Bit o’ history! My grandson, Aidan has become very interested in history, Roman history that is. It was a long time ago but one of the questions that has always intrigued us is – how were they so organised while here in Britain we were just a loose conglomeration of tribes. Tribes that were frequently at war with each other. To a certain extent this was one of the reasons why the Romans were able to conquer most of this isle. Disorganised tribes against the most organised military machine of the times. Another question is – why? Why conquer all this? It might have been the Romans were afraid and made pre-emptive strikes but I think it was more a quest for raw materials. It was well-known that there was gold in Britain and good crops like corn and also had a good name as a provider of meat. There was a lot of trade across the Channel, even in those days. The Celtic tribes were very good, excellent gold and silver smiths. All in all, some good reasons to invade. The Romans tried three times, the first two times with Julius Caesar at around 55BC which were unsuccessful and had to been withdrawn, the second in 47AD was better prepared. Rome had four legions each of 5,000 men plus cavalry and auxiliaries, altogether more than 25,000. It was an operation lasting some weeks. The boats could carry no more than a few dozens plus horses and equipment at a time but it was accomplished in record time without much opposition, if any. The legate (General) Aulus Plautius very quickly reached Londinium or whatever it was called in those days and established his headquarters there for the time being. Like I said to Aidan, the Romans did not always have to fight they also made treaties with the tribal chiefs and kings.

Boys want to see for themselves, there were Romans here in Wales? Yes, loads of them. The Siluran tribe lived here and were not too happy with the prospect of Romans coming to take their land. For a while they were left in peace. The Silures were well prepared, many hill forts were established on the ridge of hills in South Wales. Garthmaelwg (Smilog) being one. Another at Castellau. Locally Dinas mountain was by all accounts a Celtic settlement of some size. But where were the battlefields? The Roman legions were usually arrayed in a horseshoe formation. With the cavalry on the sides. The valleys around here would not allow for such deployment of troops. If we look at place names we might find some evidence of past historical events. The Welsh usually named places according to some happening, or after a visual aspect in the landscape. Not far from here is an outcrop called Carn-y-Gelyn (Mound of the Enemy) west of Penygraig. A bit further past Pontypridd there is Glyngoch (the Red Valley) but even more interesting there is the Taff valley, a broad plain. Opposite Craig-yr-Hesg (The Sedge Crag – but perhaps ought to be translated as Grassy Ridge) the land is flat and good for a Roman type deployment. It seems that in old writings this was mentioned – among those who did, Morien. It was mentioned that a whole Roman legion was lost in South Wales. Could have been this area? Next problem is where to bury all these bodies? Bar escapees there must have been thousands, both Roman and Siluran. That could be where the Carn-y-Gelyn mound might be mentioned? Legends, stories say that here the Romans and others were interred and a hill thrown up over them. But another legend says that one Roman cavalry unit rampaging all over Dinas mountain slaying the Celtic inhabitants, men, women and children. And that these were buried in the Cairn. It is a rather interesting place to visit, Aidan thought so too. We did not find Roman artefacts, only remnants of mining equipment. Many battles, many dead but in the end the Welsh were conquered. The earliest name was Isla Albion but afterwards it became Provincia Britannia. Scotland is still named Albion (in Welsh – Yr Alban) most likely referring to the white cliffs of the south coast. Read the works of Morien ( Owen Morgan , an interesting Victorian writer and historian). He also published a History of Tonyrefail from documents by his uncle Thomas Morgan which was recently translated and is possibly still available from Mr Steve Kiff (see Tonyrefail Community) at £12.99.