The consolidation of Roman power in Wales
The Roman fort of Canovium (modern Caerhun) was built around AD 77–8. The fort was designed to consolidate Roman military gains in the area under the leadership of the Roman governor of Britain, Gnaeus Julius Agricola. Situated along the Roman road which linked the legionary base at Deva (modern Chester) with outposts on the Welsh frontier, the site commanded an important crossing point on the River Conwy where the hamlet of Tal y Cafn now stands.
St. Mary’s Church now occupies the north-eastern corner of the site, and remains of the old Roman bathhouse can be seen next to the churchyard. The original timber structure was replaced by a much larger, stone-built fort in the mid-2nd century, which featured guard chambers at each of the four gates and watchtowers at each corner. The fort probably housed one complete cohort of soldiers (about 500 men) who lived in barrack blocks built alongside the Principia or headquarters building. A vicus or civilian settlement grew along the road approaching the fort; it was occupied, intermittently, until the late 4th century when the site appears to have been abandoned.
Canovium was extensively excavated in the 1920s. Many artefacts were unearthed, including a game with counters and a tile featuring an imprint of a child’s foot. These artefacts can be seen in Llandudno Museum.