Arthurian romance above the Dee
Caer Gai, the site of an ancient Roman fort, stands on the banks of the River Dee, close to Bala. Like many contemporary forts of the area, excavations suggest that the site was only occupied for a brief time, roughly AD 75–130. This is around the time of the Roman offensive against the Ordovices tribe, whom they defeated sometime in the late 1st century AD.
Geophysical surveys suggest that the fort once comprised 3-metre-high ramparts, arranged in a rectangle. They enclosed a bathhouse (balnearius), guest-house and administrative complex (mansio and principia). A civilian settlement, or vicus, lay to the south-east. A sandstone block, recovered from the site in 1885, is inscribed ‘Julius the son of Gavero, ironsmith and soldier of the First Cohort of Nervians’, a reference to the Nervia Valley of northern Italy.
The site may have links to Arthurian legend and the character Sir Kay - Cai in Welsh. Some believe the name derives from the Latin Caius or Gaius, and may refer to a real Romano-British chieftain who occupied the site following the Roman withdrawal from Britain (AD 410). In one version of the legend, Cai is the foster brother of Arthur; he is noted for drinking as much as four men, and for killing witches and monsters.
- Accessible by Public Transport
Site is off the A494, ½ mile north of Llanuwchllyn
Porthmadog - 36 miles
Nearest bus stop at Ysgol Llanuwchllyn - ½ mile
Llyn Tegid Cycle Route nearby
Caer Gai Farm is within Roman Fort
Private land. Permission required at Caer Gai Farm
Full Figure Grid Reference: SH 877315
OS Landranger map sheet: 125
- Caer Gai Roman Fort, Bala