As its Dafydd's birthday next week and there was quite a bit of 'pre-party' preparation to be done I was confined to a 'local visit' this week. This gave me the chance to re-visit a site less than 10 miles from home. See previous notes for directions.
The last time I visited it was in the summer with vegetation high so it was not so easy to spot the ramparts/ditches etc. No problem with that this time of year although on the negative side it was bitterly cold, with a biting wind and the ground frozen underneath. The lovely Karen wisely decided to stay in the car with the sleeping Dafydd and little Sophie.
Going through the kissing gate I noticed a sign stating that this was an ancient site and that (amongst other things) there was to be no littering or fires. Unfortunately it appears that some of the local inhabitants are unable to read as this has been ignored. Since the turn of the year I have taken a plastic bag out with me to pick up any litter I see at sites but I would have needed a skip to clear this amount of rubbish! Why do people do this? I also saw evidence of at least two fires.
Anyway, onto more positive things. There are at least three banks/ditches, all of whom are well above head height (when standing in the ditch) and these were very easily seen due to the fallen ferns/bracken. The central part of the site appears to be a raised area? There are unexpectedly cracking views to be had up the Sirhowy Valley to the north and Twmbarlwm Hillfort easily seen on the nearby hilltop.
After 20 minutes or so I retreated back to the car to escape the cold wind. All in all, a nice little visit but I wish some people would take more care / pride of their heritage.
Drive up Gaer Road (road on left off main road into Newport from the Tredegar House junction of the M4 - next to a traffic lights). Drive to the top of the hill and park in any of the side streets on the left. Most of these small side streets have a kissing gate at the end which gives access to the site. There is a grass walkway around the site which looks as though it is kept mown by the council. Good views on a nice day.
An unplanned, impromptu visit to this fort (2.1.2010). I had to break a train journey in Newport, and rather than hang around the station thought it would be a good chance to have a look at this fort (dedication to the cause, eh?). Anyway, not having planned to come here, I set off in what I hoped was the right direction, with no map or anything sensible like that. By heading roughly south-west and always seeking the highest ground, it's actually quite easy to find. If you come to a very large cemetery, with a busy road running along the south side*, you're in the right area - the streets all start to be called "Gaer Park Road/Avenue", etc - and most of them end at the SW with entrances onto the fort itself.
This is actually a rather excellent fort, with several (at least three) concentric lines of defences, as well as excellent views to the north-east taking in both Mynydd Machen and Twmbarlwm, as well as the hills over Cwmbran. The winter sun was going down to the west, so looking in that direction was difficult - you should be able to see the area where Gwern-y-Cleppa is situated too. It's a bit overgrown (very much so in Summer, I imagine) and a bit scruffy round the edges, but to have a hillfort within a 30 minute walk of the city centre is a great thing.
*This road also has a very regular bus service running to and from the city centre.
The poet Gwilym Tew.. presided at a Gorsedd in Glamorgan in 1460, about which time he wrote a complimentary poem in praise of Sir John Morgan of Tredegar, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, whom in the title he styles Syr Sion ap Morgan o Dre-Degyr, and again in the poem itself he writes the name Tre-Degyr [..] the capital D indicating a proper name. In a MS. of the seventeenth century, in the possession of Mr S.R. Bosanquet, is this statement, "The house of Tref-ddigr, holden by inheritance of blood from time to time, is the most ancient in all Wales." "Teigr ap Tegonwy was an ancient prince in King Arthur's time" [..] though Teigr may be as mythical a personage as King Arthur, this is strong presumptive evidence that there was such a traditionary personage connected with this place...
Octavius Morgan, The Friars, Newport, Mon.
Notes and Queries, Volume s6-IV, Number 96, 1881
Octavius, like me, tries to squeeze a bit of folklore out of the Tre (or homestead) of Teigr.