Gaer Fawr is a Mid Wales hillfort, in northern Powys, in Montgomeryshire, by a few minutes walks from the village of Guilsfield. A village which is 4 miles from the larger market town of Welshpool. The fort sits on a forested hill, shaped like mole hill, that like many others in this area, sit on this plain, that is the plateau of Mid Wales. There are a large amount of forts in the hills of Mid Wales, and in addition including the hills of South West Shropshire, there are plenty on the plains and hills of Shropshire as well. This is among the highest ratio lands of hillforts there are.
The thing I most like about this fort, is that a Iron Age boar helmet piece was found at the site. A seat, has been placed on the fort to celebrate that find, in the form of the shape of a boar. I am proud to say I have seen this piece when I was at a museum.
The great fort, would have had the British Camp wedding cake effect on the west, side, to a extent, and use small cliffs, and the slopes on the right east of the fort.
It has a citadel upon the top, a relatively flat space up on top, surely useful for occupants. It surely is those western ramparts that make it the great fort.
The term Gaer Fawr means great fort in Welsh.
The fort is today covered in trees, but info boards indicate what it must have been like.
So here are my spearpoints of what some facts, or arrow points
* I drove to Welshpool, and then Guisfield, sometimes it is hard to find hills like this, but as they say, even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while
* I like how they, realised they needed to honour the brilliant find, of a boar figurine, and so they greatly went the whole hog, and made a seat.
* Trying to get up those ramparts, would be very difficult, the 5 lines, you would be like a hog on ice,
* If they got a raider on the run, by making them flee, from those ramparts. they would be like a pig from a gun, who would need to sweat like a pig, trying to get away,
* I loved, the kind of New age, or pagan stuff atop the hill. I should have said, that on the summit, a glade of a area amid the forest, there were chimes and such things hanging off select trees, and even a hole in one, that looked like somebody had deposited gifts to the tree, or spirits. Even though I do not transcribe to those faiths, I was delighted, I was like a pig in muck, seeing what a experience.
* If you grab a pig by the tail, all the other pigs squeal, as well. Well that proverb has a good meaning to forts, I mean what raider will attack a fort, if it is defended well, after all a good defence can keep at bay some warriors, and the rest in that pack, will likely be affected by the fighting away of some warriors by the hillfort.
* Another nice quote is Never try to teach a pig to sing. You waste your time and you annoy the pig. The truth of this could be, find the right location for your hillfort, as it needs a good location, that occupants will like.
* The worst pig often gets the best pear, interesting thought, that saying, I suppose it could be true, as you could see them get the best fort site.
* Never put your best jewels before Swine, is another saying, well maybe that is what happened with the iron age figurine, that fell off somebody's helmet, maybe in a battle, or just it fell off,
* Anyway, the fort, started off as a smaller summit site, then expanded, with a annexe.
* The glade at the top is about 1.8 hectares in size.
* The rest of the area is about 5 hecatres in size, including the ramparts.
* Gaer Fawr wood, or Coed y Gawr Fawr, covers the fort and slopes about the area, and covers 29 hectares, but a larger area than the fort.
* The Gaer Fawr boar, is to me one of the most illuminating items of Iron Age life found in Wales.
* The term Gaer Fawr Powys, can be used for at least 2 forts in the main, this one in Montgomeryshire, and the other, known as Gaer Fawr, Lower Chapel, whose nearest town is Brecon. So the other side of the county of Powys. Though there is also a Caer Fawr in Llanelwedd, again in Powys sometimes known as Gaer Fawr. Plus a Gaer Fawr in Pembrokshire, more known as Garn Fawr, Plus a Gaer Fawr near Mandeilio, in Carmarthenshire, also known as Faer Fach, which is small fort. Plus Y Gaer Fawr, at Carn Goch, Carmarthenshire. Plus Pen Y Gaer Fawr, near Penllan in Carmarthenshire, and Gawr Fawr also known as Pen y Caerau, near Llanilar near Ceredigion. Plus Gaer Fawr Lower Camp, in Neath Port Talbot. Then lastly Gaer Fawr Camp near Llangwm in Monmouthshire. Though I have only been to the one of these Gaer Fawrs.
* In a sense Maiden Castle of Dorset, whose name comes from the term Mai Dun, was called Great Fort, in a other Celtic language, as that is what Mai Dun means.
* Back to this one on North Powys again, The elevation level is about 219 metres, of that 110 above the plains around.
* You can see a hill, Breidden Hill from the fort, which also has some hillforts atop it. Breidden, like Caer Caradoc, and British Camp has legends to do with it being the site of Caratacus and his battles with Rome. They have lots of things, even in 2021 has a late 20th Century monument to a Gypsy "king" on one of them it seems. An indication of the history of how people honour hill tops. Though there is also the very large Rodney's Pillar, a landmark seen from miles around. Also that area of hills had from 1789 things called festivals, with songs, poetry and more atop after a founding of it by the Breidden Society. The thing is I wonder if that was inspired by local traditions or was a new thing as Shropshire at Caer Caradoc and Titterstone has the major ancient wake's. Well I assume more ancient.
* I also have a bonus article on Llangorse Crannog at the bottom of this page.
* So Gaer Fawr hillfort is a fascinating place to visit or read about. .
More pictures of this fort in on Barnes and Noble, for sale, Part 50 Of the Land of Hillforts. Numerous pictures of various North and Mid Wales forts, and locations the third part of five, that is of numerous pictures of Welsh mostly North Wales locations,
I better say most of the photos are mine, and need my permission to be used
elsewhere, also though there are some public domain pics I found online that
I have noted are so, in most cases I hope all cases, Over 165 pictures
Including these stated, A Map, (There are more maps in part 48, which also
appear in 46), Over 35 Pictures of Pen y Gaer Fort area in Conwy County, 24 of the area round Penmaenmawr's demolished Braich y Dinas, Prestatyn Roman Baths, and Dyserth Waterfall, Rhuddlan Castle, Twt and River, Rhyl and Kinmel Bay Beach, Snowdonia, Then over 100 of Gaer Fawr area, near Guilfield, and Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, Powys, Mid Wales. Including some of Breidden Hill
From a distance from there, also near Welshpool.
This is useful as part of reading my story, but also could be used as stand alone for anybody wanting a look at these sites.
I do not claim to be professional photographer, I am way below that level in my pictures, but these may be of use to somebody wanting to explore this amazing and wonderful but lost and mysterious world that is the land of Hillforts.
THE Articles on hillforts
Also a other fine site in Mid Wales, in Powys is is Llangorse Crannog, almost in South Wales. It is by Brecon, in Brecknockshire one of the 3 parts of that largest Welsh county by area. It is 33 miles north of Newport in South East Wales, and 68 miles south of the Gaer Fawr hillfort this page is about. I shall put it on this page though as Gaer Fawr is my Mid Wales representative. It is the only crannog in Wales and England, though Glastonbury and such in England do have lake villages so there are equivalents.
I read in my September 2005, edition of British Archaeology, that a excavation was carried out around then as this man made island was being threatened by motor boat waves, and bigger falls and rises in water levels, resulting in erosion. So excavations and protective works were carried out. Here is what I got from the article. It is called Llyn Syfaddan in Welsh the lake. As surprisingly Llangorse Lake is only the English name, unusual as Llan is such a Welsh term. The lake is 7 metres deep it seems, in 2004 when the excavations were carried out, and is the largest in South Wales, of a natural type.
With the crannog 40 metres from the shore of a 150 hectares lake.
The man made isle was created by piles of brush wood piled up on the llyn bed. With beams of hardwood and oak piles helping keep that down. Plus sandstone boulders added to that. It is supposed on top of this there were man made floorings, but nothing of that survives even under the trees and dirt that lay in this man made island today Which is called Ynys Bwlc apparently as well.
On the crannog were found textiles, an bronze strap hinge, enamel and glass, a brooch and animal bones.
The site was built in the late 9th Century from trees chopped down in 889 to 891 AD. or thereabouts.
It is strongly felt the site was led by King Awst of Brycheiniog, and it is likely the site, destroyed by the Mercian army in the 10th Century. There is a destruction zone on the site tying in with that theory. The said Welsh king, of one of the many kingdoms of Wales of the time, had some Irish heritage according to some traditions which may explain this structure turning up here.
Diggers and all sorts were used to improve the protection of the crannog.