This is one of those sites where, although I had been before, I always felt I had ‘unfinished business’ with. The last time I visited I was still new to visiting sites and I didn’t have the benefit of an O/S map. As a result I made the mistake of approaching the Hillfort from the south (no public right of way) and was worried about being spotted by someone in the farm opposite so I didn’t hang around long.
This was something I had wanted to put right ever since. Today was the day!
Going straight from work I drove through Rhiwsaeson and parked next to a field fate to the east of the Hillfort. There is a public right of way from this point via a kissing gate (Glamorgan Ridgeway Walk) which runs slightly to the north of the site.
I got out of the car and realised I had left my boots home. Luckily my wellies were in the car so problem solved. Through the gate I was met by a flock of sheep that were quite nervous of me. I reassured the sheep I meant no harm but it didn’t convince them and they soon scattered.
After a long day stuck in the office it felt good to back in the countryside once again. The sky was blue and there wasn’t a hint of wind. The sun felt warm on my back as I strolled up the hill. No fences/barbed wire or farmers to negotiate – this is the life!
I soon arrived at the outer ramparts and strolled clock-wise around the Hillfort. All was peaceful except the bleating of the sheep. I spotted several large stones scattered around the perimeter, one looked like a standing stone but no doubt it isn’t. There are good views to be had in all directions. Far below me I could see the busy roads full with rush hour traffic – boy was I glad to be here and not there. I even managed to pick my first blackberry – yes, it was sour!
Upon reaching the northern edge of the Hillfort I noticed a narrow track that had been made through the ferns by the sheep leading down the hill. They had worn away the grass and beneath the surface could be seen the banks of stones making up the ramparts. The inner ditch/rampart was about 2m deep and the outer ditch/rampart about 3m deep.
By the time I returned to the car all the stresses of the day were behind me. I guess I am lucky in that I am able to de-stress simply by taking a walk in the country. Some people have to resort to other, more harmful, ways. Not wishing to sound judgemental but I am sure my way would be preferential?
Caerau Hillfort is a good place to visit and comes highly recommended.
The industrial coastal belt of South Wales continues to intrigue and prove just how misplaced the somewhat prejudiced - nay, elitist - views of this traveller are at times, never more clearly than in the case of this hillfort hidden away from prying eyes above Rhiwsaeson....
A glance at the map shows apparently substantial defences. But how can this be, with Llantrisant and neighbouring settlements encroaching to the north and west and the M4 a little to the south. Surely it must have been destroyed, or at the very least be a local yobs' hangout? The truth is very different.
Heading north out of town beneath a disused viaduct, a 'Road Closed' sign halts any further vehicular progress. So I park here and revert to the Mk1 boot, full waterproofs required to keep out the downpour. Passing Ty-mawr farm on my right, a signpost proclaims the 'Fford y Bryniau' (or 'Ridgeway Walk' to most of the population) heading to the left. My old 1:25 OS map shows the hillfort to the left of the track, or, more accurately, 'exceedingly wet and muddy excuse of a track'. In actual fact, it lies to the right, crowning the high ground behind the obvious wooded hill in the right foreground. But then I wasn't to know that, was I? Serves me right for being a cheapskate and buying ex-library maps, I suppose. Due to this I arrive at the western defences first, initially somewhat underwhelmed, then pleasantly surprised at the bivallate ramparts. Seems there's life in the old 'fort yet.
A couple of locals approach around the perimeter and stop for a chat. Seems that, yes, the hillfort is on private ground but Glynn, the landowner, is a rather nice bloke who's got no issues with access as long as the usual courtesies are followed. Can't say fairer than that, can you? Anyway, carrying on clockwise around the circumferance things get a whole lot better, with not only a fine view of Garth Hill and its round barrows, but a reasonably well preserved, partly tri-vallate section of eastern ramparts to enjoy. There's also what I take to be the original gateway - two very eroded, deeply inverted, close set parallel banks - at the south-east. Hell, I like this place. Water accumulates at several locations within the defences, possibly a handy original feature, certainly of great benefit to the current inhabitants of the enclosure: sheep.
Visited this site March 2009. O/S map shows no public right of way to the hillfort although there is access around the base of the hill. When I visited I took the turning off the A4119 along the A473 - when approaching Llantrisiant from the south. At the Cross Inn roundabout take the right turn into the lane which runs past Tor-Y-Coed farm. I parked just before the farm (out of eye sight!!) and headed up through the fields to the Hillfort. I only viewed the southern defences which to be honest wasn't much to look at. However, it appears that this was the least defined section of the Hillfort and I should have viewed the other sides. I was conscious of being 'spotted' so I didn't want to hang around too long.
At a place called Rhiwsaeson, near Llantrisant, Glamorgan, a woman in white used occasionally to appear. A farm labourer returning home one evening met her. She approached him, saying: "Your wife has given birth to a babe. Go and bring the boy to me at once, that I may be saved." The man was surprised to find the event had come about. He feared to do this, and the parson advised him to have the infant christened before taking him out, fearing he might die before his return. When he, carrying the babe, reached the spot where the white woman waited his coming, he found her crying bitterly and wringing her hands, for one of the conditions of her soul's redemption was the kiss of a new-born and unbaptized child.
A shepherd, minding his master's sheep on the Llantrisant Mountain, sat to rest in a sheltered nook where a huge rock covered with heather shielded him from the fierce sunshine at noontide. He looked a few paces away, and saw a white-robed girl scattering a few roses. The shepherd waited until she was gone out of sight, and then went from his nook to gather the flowers. He looked at them, and said: "Oh, what beautiful flowers!" He replaced them where they had been scattered. Suddenly the maiden reappeared, looked at him kindly, and smiled sadly, but never uttered a word. That night he took the flowers home, and placed them in water. In the morning he found three gold coins where the flowers had been.
It's not inconceivable these two stories about a woman in white are about the same place? And that that place could be here? Just to be on the safe side I wouldn't hang about after dark. From Folk-lore and folk-stories of Wales by Marie Trevelyan (1909).
Coflein description of this excellent, yet seemingly unknown site.........
"Bivallate enclosure with counterscarp bank, though much of the latter with the outer ditch have been destroyed. For most of the circuit the defences comprise two close-set banks and ditches and a counterscarp bank, though that and the outermost ditch have been destroyed except on the NE sextant and for a short length on the W side. Where best preserved a typical profile measures 30m horizontally and 7.5m vertically overall.
There is no sign of stone revetment On the S, where the hillside is steeper than elsewhere, the outer defences were omitted but the innermost rampart seems to have continued along the crest of the slope , though it has been levelled. The entrance was on the SE. Here, the inner and middle banks diverge to leave between them an irregular space of about 0.3 ha. The entrance through each rampart was by a passage about 7.5m wide between parallel inturned banks now only about 0.6m high, about 15m long through the outer defences and about 28m through the inner. The ramparts near the entrance do not seem to have been accompanied by ditches or by the counterscarp bank. The enclosed area measures 230m (E-W) by 180m."