Archaeology, History

Roman meets Medieval at Cefn Caer

Last weekend I visited Cefn Caer Medieval Hall House and Roman Fort near Machynlleth, on the western Welsh coast. After a tip-off from a local antiques dealer who had a keen interest in archaeology and a lovely antiques shop in Machynlleth, my group sought out the house (a roadside signpost is coming shortly!) after making a telephone appointment for a tour. Arriving without really knowing what to expect, we were blown away by the Medieval house and its inspiring and engaging owner, Elfyn Rowlands, which was built upon the site of a Roman Fort in the 14th century. The building is now grade II* listed and the attached barn grade II, mainly thanks to the tireless restoration work by Elfyn and its links with Owain Glydwr, and it was interesting to hear about the challenges faced when living in such an important historic house.

The Exterior of Cefn Caer house.

The Exterior of Cefn Caer house

The Interior of Cern Caer showing original Medieval features. Potograph: www.cefncaer.com

The Interior of Cern Caer showing original Medieval features. Potograph: http://www.cefncaer.com

Rowlands was enthusiastic and fascinating – and a real character too! It was inspiring to see the work he had put into the restoration of his family home and the energy and wit he injected into his tours. He was keen to show us reconstructions of two beautiful – and intact- roman vases that he had found in the grounds of he house. The originals are now on display at the National Museum in Cardiff, who commissioned the painstakingly scaled and painted reconstructions for Cefn Caer.

A reconstruction of Cefn Caer Roman Fort. Image: Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

A reconstruction of Cefn Caer Roman Fort. Image: Gwynedd Archaeological Trust

The interior of the house is steeped in history in every corner and the smell of the wood and smoke help create an immersive authenticity. The tour was a real delight and well worth a visit if around those parts. The Cefn Caer website with more information and directions can be found here.

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