Caerhun - Gazetteers


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

National Gazetteer (1868)

"CAERHUN, (or Caerhen), a parish in the hundred of Isaf, in the county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 4 miles to the S. of Conway. Llanrwst is its post town. It is situated on the banks of the river Conway, and extends over an area of 13,402 acres. It was the site of the Roman station Conovium, the foundations of which are still traceable. Many interesting Roman remains have been found, among which is a brick inscribed "Leg. X." In 1801 a villa was discovered, and in 1824 a pottery with good specimens of highly ornamented ware. Traces of copper and manganese have been found in this parish. The living is a rectory united with that of Llanbedr, in the diocese of Bangor. The church is dedicated to St. Mary, and stands in a pretty spot near Caerrhun Hall. There are several chapels for Dissenters in the parish. The charitable endowments are worth £5 a year. Caerrhun Hall is the chief residence."

"ISAR-AFON, a township in the parish of Caerhun, county Carnarvon, 4 miles S. of Conway."

"MAEN-Y-BARDD, a township in the parish of Caerhun, county Carnarvon, 4 miles S. of Conway."

"PENFRO, a township in the parish of Caerhun, county Carnarvon, 4 miles S. of Conway."

"RHWNG-Y-DDWY-AFON, a township in the parish of Caerhun, county Carnarvon, 4 miles S. of Conway. It is situated in the vale of the river Conway. Many Roman antiquities have been found in the neighbourhood, and remains of the station Conovium"

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

Post script from David Alexander of the Kanovium Project
The above quote about  the Roman fort has some inaccuracies, perpetuated by the 1868 writer - the building was not a 'villa' but in fact the fort bath house, the matter is dealt with more satisfactorily in PK Baillie Reynolds' site report in the form of the introduction written by local archaeologist Willoughby Gardner, which I quote below;

"The site has long been recognised as a Roman fort owing to its still visible earthworks.  Camden so described it in the sixteenth century, identifying it with the Conovium of the Itinerary.  The ruins of the Bath  buildings between the fort and river have always remained standing above ground, and about 1650 one Samuel Lee of London dug out a hypocaust and various relics there, including bricks stamped LEG XX.  In 1696 Edward Lhwyd visited Caerhun and saw these excavated remains and many relics preserved at Caerhun and also at Gloddaeth and at Maenan in the neighbourhood.  In 1801, the then Squire and Rector of Caerhun, the Rev. Hugh Davies Griffiths, and his friend Samuel Lysons F.S.A., completely excavated the remainder of the Bath site, as published in Archaeologia Vol XVI (1806) ; other excavations by Mr Davies Griffiths the son of the Rector, in 1824 produced much Samian pottery and other relics.
The tile stamped leg X in fact records leg XX but was incomplete, and the decorated ceramics found in 1824 was 'Samian Ware' "

 A Topographical Dictionary of Wales Samuel Lewis, 1833

CAERHEN (CAER-HEN, or CAER-RHUN), a parish in the hundred of LLECHWEDD-ISAV, county of CARNARVON, NORTH WALES, 6 miles (N. by W.) from Llanrwst, containing 1117 inhabitants. This place is allowed by all antiquaries to have been the Conovium of the Romans. The present name signifies the old town, though tradition derives it from Rhun, a British prince, who in 560 succeeded his father Maelgwyn in the government of North Wales, and carried on a sanguinary and protracted war with the Saxons, during their frequent incursions at that time into the principality. It formed also, at a subsequent period, one of the defences of the country lying beyond the Snowdon mountains against the Saxon invaders of Wales, after the states of the Octarchy had been united into one sovereignty.

The parish is pleasantly situated on the western bank of the river Conway, up which the tide flows for three miles above it, rendering that river navigable at spring tides for vessels of one hundred tons' burden. Small quantities of copper-ore and of manganese have been found, but no mines are worked at present.

The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Bangor, rated in the king's books at £4. 9. 7., and in the patronage of the Bishop of Bangor. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a small edifice, romantically situated in a sequestered spot within the grounds of Caerhen Hall. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, in the little village of Roe, in this parish. The Rev. Lancelot Bulkeley, in 1718, bequeathed £120 for teaching two poor children of this parish, two of the parish of Llanbedr, and two of the parish of Llangelynin, to read Welsh. William Williams, Esq., and Thomas Williams, Esq., severally bequeathed sums producing together £2. 16. per annum for the instruction of six poor boys in reading English, and in writing : there are also divers small charitable donations and bequests for distribution among the poor. The site of the Roman station and some of the foundation walls may still be discerned upon an eminence a little to the north of the church : it occupied a quadrangular area, each side of which was two hundred and sixty feet in length, and was defended by a slight vallum of earth, and by the steepness of the acclivity on the side towards the Conway, from which river it is about one hundred and sixty-seven yards distant. Among the numerous and interesting relics of Roman antiquity which have been discovered are coins, lamps, vases, and bricks, the last being still frequently turned up by the plough, and on one of which was inscribed " Leg. X.," which legion, according to Camden, was stationed here, under the command of Ostorius. In removing the soil from the foundations of this once important city, in 1801, a Roman villa was discovered, consisting of five apartments and a sudatory, in which, among various fragments of broken columns, an amulet of curious workmanship, ornamented with figures in blue enamel, was found ; and in 1824 an extensive pottery was discovered, with several perfect specimens of the ware, richly ornamented with figures of men in armour, horses, stags, boars, and dogs, in alto relievo, and of the most vivid colours. Near the church were also found, a cake of copper, weighing forty lb., and bearing an inscription, now in the possession of Sir Edward Mostyn, Bart. ; a circular shield of brass, ornamented with rings and studded; and a battle-ax of singular construction, which are in the possession of Mr. Griffith, on whose estate are the remains of this ancient station. , The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £341. 7.

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