Tre’r Ceiri: 100 Things To Do In Wales

Tre’r Ceiri is a hill fort dating back to the British Iron Age. The name is believed to mean “home of the giants”, from cewri, plural of cawr, “giant”. This is on the Welsh 100 List, and is somewhere I’ve been hoping to get to for many years, but I must admit I didn’t tell Aunty how strenuous the walk up to the top would be otherwise there might have been a few moans. In fact there were a few words thrown in my direction as we wheezed our way up. But boy, it was worth it!

One of the entrances into the fort. The walls here are still almost 2 meters high.
One of the entrances into the fort. The walls here are still almost 2 meters high.

The settlement is located 450 metres (1,480 ft) above sea level on the slopes of Yr Eifl, a mountain on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula. Evidence suggests the settlement was first built around 200 BC, though most of the archaeological finds date from AD 150–400, placing the site firmly in the Roman period. But the history of the site goes back a further 2000 years with the siting of a Bronze Age burial cairn, which is clearly preserved on the peak of the hill, and seems to have been respected by the later builders of the fort.

Part of the perimeter wall on the north side.
Part of the perimeter wall on the north side.

The main hillfort is enclosed by a formidable single rampart which still stands up to 3.5m high in places. Where nearly intact, the top of the rampart still has its parapet walk reached via a number of sloping ramps from the interior. This wall is broken by two main gateways, both of which funnelled visitors through narrow, restrictive passages, as well as three ‘posterns’ or minor gateways, one of which at least was designed to allow inhabitants out down a narrow mountain path to gather water from a spring.

One of the houses situated right next to the wall.
One of the houses situated right next to the wall.

The interior is filled with some 150 round stone huts many with walls still over 1m high. Some of the huts are 8m across, others less than 3m. Several of the large ones have been subdivided.

The remains of some of the circular huts are clearly visible, showing their relationship with each other.
The remains of some of the circular huts are clearly visible, showing their relationship with each other.

The effort we required to get up here brought the whole concept of the fort into context. The organisation needed to build it, though stones up here is in plentiful supply, supply the fort with food, ensure there was enough water, because this is right at the top of the hill, must all have been impressive.

This small sections shows the height of the hill, but also the view across the whole area.
This small sections shows the height of the hill, but also the view across the whole area.

It may look like. Piles of stones to some people, but with a little imagination it is easy to place people living in the houses. Their worries may not have been all that different from ours; how to keep a roof over their heads, making sure there was food on the table, family relationships – are these dissimilar to our lives today?

All the way down the slopes we were followed by a raven who called out the whole time. Almost as if he was making a tribute to the lives of the past.

Rook

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