The Age of Iron
This small, hilltop fortress was comprehensively excavated between 1979 and 1985. It revealed extensive evidence that it had once been a major centre for the production of iron. Radiocarbon dates suggest that the site was occupied from the late Iron Age until the arrival of the Romans, and that production was on an industrial scale. It is estimated that one ton of timber and 25 working days were required to produce just 1kg of so-called bog iron, using ores from the nearby Nant Gamallt peat bog. A total of 100kg is thought to have been produced and worked here during the site’s operational life.
Many structures once stood within the defended enclosure, including round huts with ‘stake walls’ – walls made from thin, interlaced wooden stakes, the first of their kind ever discovered in Gwynedd. The original smithy, which has been partially reconstructed, was spiral-shaped to allow for improved ventilation. A similar shaped structure may be seen at Garn Boduan hill fort on the Llŷn Peninsula and is also thought to be a smithy. Other remains discovered here included smelting furnaces, a stone anvil, tongs, stone hammers, a variety of sharpening stones, decorated glass beads and black and white gaming pieces. These may be seen at the Snowdonia National Park Study Centre at Tan y Bwlch, which carried out the excavations.
As the Romans loosened their grip on the area in the late 2nd century AD, production began again – but on a limited scale in the small circular structure beyond the eastern rampart. The hill fort itself was never reoccupied.
- Accessible by Public Transport
- Good Walks Nearby
- Family Walk
Follow the B4391 Ffestiniog to Bala. At first minor crossroads from Ffestiniog turn left through gate. Parking at waterworks SH 725425
Blaenau Ffestiniog - 4.5 miles
Nearest bus stop Llanffestiniog, Peniel on A470
Site is up path bearing right. 20-30 minute walk.
Footpath moderate. Dogs must be on lead.
Full Figure Grid Reference: SH 728429
OS Landranger map sheet: 124
- Bryn y Castell, Ffestiniog