Caerhun (Canovium) - Sarah Woodbury

Caerhun (Canovium)

Canovium is located on the Conwy River, at what is known now as Caerhun. It was a Roman fort built to guard the northernmost ford across the Conwy River. The road associated with this ford ran from Holyhead to Llanfaes, across the Menai Strait via the Lafan Sands, to Garth Celyn (Aber), and then over the Bwlch y Ddeufaen to Caerhun and points east. Rather than build a brand new road, the Romans improved this ancient pathway. (And we have made videos of many of these places)

The fort was originally built around 75 AD in timber, to house upwards of 500 men. The fort was rebuilt in stone in the 2nd century and acted as the Roman administrative headquarters in this area. In addition to a headquarters building, granaries, and barracks, the fort also included a bathhouse outside the fort’s walls and a ‘vicus’ or civilian settlement to the north.

Today a medieval church and churchyard occupy the north-eastern quarter of the original Roman fort. Since Canovium was built over the top of an ancient river crossing, the native Welsh occupied the site before the Romans came and then reoccupied after they left. This fact is the source of the Welsh name for the place,  ‘Caerhun,’ which means “fort of Rhun”, named for the 6th century King of Gwynedd. 

Caerhun plays a role in my books in that, throughout my various series, travelers pass through this site, in its guise as a Welsh fort, since it was still the best place to cross the Conwy River. In addition, in the fall of 1282 King Edward intended to force the Conwy at Caerhun and capture Aber by descending from the pass of Bwlch y Ddeufaen. The battle of Moel y Don prevented that from happening until after the death of Llywelyn in December.

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