The Time of the ancient Briton was a period
in time when wars between tribes was often the norm it was no different
in South Wales the main tribe were the Silures they were a powerful and
very able warlike tribe, they occupied the counties of Monmouth, Brecon
That they were in Aberafan is documented, so could that have been the
reason that a Roman garrison was maintained in this area although no Roman
forts or Settlements have been discovered evidence exists that some form
of Roman presence was here in Aberafan.
Although the Silures had eventually been defeated in about AD 78 they
had fought the Romans in a thirty year war putting up Fierce resistance
to the conquest of South Wales by the Roman legions the war had raged
from about AD 48, they had recruited a Prince of the Catuvellauni a tribe
from West Wales he was named Caratacus, he was a military leader although
he was a brilliant tactician in fighting wars he was outcast from his
own people after being defeated in battle.
The Silures were accorded great honour by the Roman Victors not for them
enslavement as other conquered tribes defeated by the Romans had become.
(Caerwent, near Chepstow) had become a Roman town after the defeat of
the Silures, in AD 78 parts of the massive Roman walls still survive today,
the Silures were to be given this town and it was to become under the
Roman Empire the capital of the Silures.
The legend of King Arthur reputed to be of Welsh decent by the fact that
he was a hereditary ruler of the ancient land of the Silures has some
truth for the ruler that King Arthur was based on was indeed an hereditary
ruler of the ancient land of the Silures his Welsh name was Athryws ap
Meurig ( Athryws son of Meurig ).
It was some Six hundred years after the time of Arthur that his descendants
were once more involved in a struggle against determined invaders. Iestyn
ap Gwrgan, ( Istyn Son of Gwrgan ) the last independent Prince of Glamorgan
Istyn ap Gwrgan became the ruler of the royal house of Morgannwg which
had a lineage stretching back over five centuries to Tewdrig (circa 550
- 584). This royal house had links to the other royal houses of Wales
through marriage and were descendants of the celebrated Rhodri Mawr. but
an independant wales was not to be Istyn ap Gwrgan was defeated in a battle
just north of Cardiff.
Iestyn ap Gwrgan is now known as the last ruler of the Welsh kingdom of
Morgannwg, which encompassed the traditional counties of Glamorgan and
Monmouthshire. He was deposed in circa 1090 by the Norman Robert Fitzhamon,
lord of Gloucester, Fitzhamon established a lordship based in Cardiff
and subsequently conquered the low-land part of Glamorgan (the Vale of
Glamorgan) This land he handed out to his supporters each one receiving
a parcel of land, whilst the mountainous parts which were mostly the valleys
and high mountains were left in Welsh control the Welsh were renowned
as hit and run gorrila fighters no one had ever defeated then in their
mountain lairs not the Romans not the Normans..
Iestyn ap Gwrgan can be shown to be a direct descendant of Athryws ap
Meurig who was the King Arthur of History and Legend, after his defeat
Iestyn ap Gwrgan’s sons were allowed to settle and administer a
small corner of Morgannwg (Glamorgan), between the rivers Neath and Afan,
which became known as Afan Wallia. The eldest Son named Caradoc’s
family line can be traced back through the passage of time.
Caradog, the eldest son of Iestyn ap Gwrgan, was the only Welsh lord to
be able to retain lands in the low-land, retaining the land already mentioned
between the River Neath and River Afan.Caradoc, continued to hold this
lordship, and for the defence of the passage of the river he had a castle
built Its foundations now lie underneath the streets around St Mary's
church in Aberafan.
From the 13 century his descendants had began calling themselves De Avan
or D'Avene) and established, under the protection of the castle, a small
town but it was soon to become a chartered town, which in the year of
1372 received a further charter from Edward Le Despenser, he and his descendants
were to become known as the lords of Afan from this time period.
As we can all see the Aberafan in ancient times has a great deal of history
connecting us back to well beyond AD 48 and although this was not a Roman
town or settlement the Romans were ever present as can be seen from the
artifacts found, things like their milestones and pottery, the stones
can be seen in the stones museum at Margam. The old A48 was originally
built by the Romans as part of their military connecting highways between
forts and settlements, this Roman arterial road passed through the centre
of Aberafan, evidence has been found around the castle street area and
the old docks at Margam, Of the Roman presence
At margam there is a restored Roman bath house but in some quarters they
have expressed doubts that this is indeed a true relict of the Roman occupation
I don't know who is right in this argument suffice to say it truly looks
as if it is a genuine Roman Bath House as was used by Roman soldiers
A few hundred years after Iestyn ap Gwrgan, another Welshman around the
1400's took on the might of the English this noble Welshman by the name
of Owain Glyndwr was for a long time in English society being connected
to all the Welsh ruling families he had influence and standing.so had
no real problem with the English he fought in King Richards Army then
when Henry IV, threw king Richard from the throne things took a turn for
the worst when Glyndwrs English neighbour Lord Grey of Ruthin, a close
friend of Henry stole land from Glyndwr.
The Welshman took his case to the Lords in London but they dismissed his
case out of hand,. this led to Glyndwr raising an army of Welshmen and
they fought the English army for years although they were never defeated
the years took thier toll Glyndwrs Wife and baby sons were slaughtered
by the English when taken prisoner some years later Owain Glyndwr simply
dissapeared when his army depleated by men going back home seeing no end
to the struggle no one has ever found the grave of this man who declared
himself Prince of Wales