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The Ordnance Map
so in other parts of Britain. shows that this line draws out nearly straight as physical conditions permitted according to Roman plan to their objective, a fordable point on the river near to Kanovium. Mr. Herbert's track is more circuitous, and ends at Tal y Cafn, where the Conwy is not fordable.
On the Llangerniew to Kanovium track, shown in the accompanying map, reduced from the Ordnance 6 in. survey, a peculiar feature is the Ffordd Las (Green road) (10) running absolutely straight for 3 to 3 miles to the summit, Pen y Mynydd. That track could only have been laid out for a definite purpose, needful at the time. Now it is in entire disuse, and has been so for a very lengthened period, perhaps ever since the Roman occupation ceased. As will be shown, there is some evidence of its having been an old road possibly of Roman structure.
This preliminary statement is needed for a comprehension of the details now to follow, and of the general puzzle presented to investigators into the matter of Roman highways and trackways to and in North Wales. In the total absence at present of exact knowledge as to whereabouts in the Vale of Clwyd Varae was situated, the difficulties presented are considerable. It is only by patient walking of long distances, and careful observation, together with judicious use of pick and spade, that any certainty can be arrived at.
The Nant Conwy Antiquarian Society has collected many details relating to Roman roads, and tracks during the past ten years since its inauguration, and three members, Messrs. Willoughby Gardner, W. B. Halhed, and Rev. T. Roberts, R. N., undertook a preliminary task of working out a first section, the Conwy River to Llangerniew, with the direct cooperation of Lord Aberconway, and his son the Hon. H. McLaren, M.P. The examinations made were all
the Bodnant property; a generous supply of
labourers on the estate was given, and the service of a motor car.
There were prior indications to induce following this route, such as Llyn Syberi (the Latin superior reduced to Welsh); Lletty, of which name several such exist in Wales, meaning literally a Half House, shed, temporary lodgings, but also in Ancient Welsh an Inn1; and Ffordd Las already mentioned, long suspected by Mr. Gardner to be part of the Roman Road. The road from Llangerniew ascends to Pen y Mynydd to nearly 1200 ft. above sea level: it drops by a very precipitous course into the valley where Eglwys Bach stands at 95 ft., then rises past Lletty (5) to Llyn Syberi, about 600 ft. to 700 ft., and after a short distance falls again to close on sea level, where the Conwy is easily fordable at low water at several points; this special spot being locally known as Porth Allt Goch, the Ferry of the Red Rock. Such a ferry existed within living memory. This description gives an idea of the country that had to be traversed.
Starting early on the 21st August last, the party explored the river end of the track by taking the modern woodland lane near Dyto (2), and, acting on a suggestion of the head forester, two men were left to dig out a section of an old disused path at point (2a); then proceeding up the hill other men were left to work out three or four sections at point (3), which the Rev. T. Roberts had previously examined.
Perhaps the result of this digging, visited later in the day, is better given here. Though not absolutely conclusive, it was not altogether negative, for the sections cut showed, under a considerable accumulation of vegetable mould, indications of a thick rubble foundation, and at the west end of the lane cobble stones fitted together were found. Retracing their steps by a more likely path through the wood to the river, the explorers found that the labour of the 1 Davies's Dictionary, 1632; Genesis 43, v. 21, for instance, where the English word Inn is rendered Lletty.
men at point (2a) was valueless. Then, taking the motor car they made a lengthy, circuitous and up-hill journey to Pen y Mynydd. A walk through the fields from the farm which lies here, brought them to where the public road intersects Ffordd Las and the farm road. Digging at point (9) there was ample inducement to leave others to make a complete section of the road, and other sections at point (9) in the field by the farm; also to make a cut across the path which led, by an apparently artificial cutting, through the rock on which the farm buildings stand, over a small stream running by (8a). This work also had to be revisited later on. The first section showed an accumulation of vegetable mould of 12 in. to 14 in. depth, under which an old road 9 ft. to 10 ft. wide was discovered, constructed of 14 in. of rubble of the shaley stone of the district, placed on the clay which constitutes the covering of the whole of this upland. The other field sections (9a) gave no returns; they were purely clay. A mistake had been made in following the course of the farm road instead of directing the men to cut on a straight line across the moorland to the farm (96), where Ffordd Las may possibly have been picked up. The cutting across the stream (8a) showed some deposit of rubble beneath the accumulated mould. It should be mentioned that the stream now runs under the modern raised road which intersects it, and leads to the precipitous track before described.
Returning to Eglwys Bach, and walking thence to Lletty and Llyn Syberi, a raised causeway was noted at the bottom of the hill which needs some further examination. The road is practically the bed of a small stream, and a similar causeway is reported in another part of the village, raised under similar conditions.
Lletty (5). The building found here and used as a farm house is modern, save the first story, which consists of three arched vaults used as stabling. The bricks of the arch are not modern, but only an expert