Cowbridge Roman Military Site
Cowbridge Roman Military Site
An early Roman settlement - possibly a 1st-century fort - lies beneath modern Cowbridge. Pottery evidence suggests a date around AD 80, and a bathhouse has been excavated.


The town of Cowbridge stands atop at a 1st-century Roman settlement. The origins of the Roman presence here are shrouded in mystery. The settlement may be the site recorded as Bovium (or Bomio), though that site has also been identified with the Roman fort at Cardiff.

The Roman settlement was first unearthed in 1977 when excavations on Coopers Lane, opposite Old Hall, found evidence of shops and houses. More excavations behind Bear Lane discovered evidence of a large military presence.

Finds of bricks stamped with an imprint of Legio II Augusta (the 2nd Legion) suggests a sizeable military site. The bricks were found in the remains of a 2nd century bathhouse, or thermae. The bathhouse was abandoned by the early 2nd century. It seems likely that the Second Augustan Legion was based at Cowbridge until it was posted north to defend Hadrian's Wall.

The settlement was slowly abandoned after the legions departed. Finds of 1st century funerary monuments also suggest the 1st century military site. Pottery sherds show that there was activity here by around AD 80.

Whatever the nature of the site, a settlement grew up along a later road, with stone and timber buildings lining the route. Evidence of iron working on a large scale also suggests a military presence.

The Roman site was occupied into the 4th century, but there are almost no remains visible above ground today. There are large ditches behind the Midland Bank and more ditches near the local authority depot.