Pen-y-Crug Iron Age hillfort
Standing on the summit of a prominent hill above the Usk Valley, this is one of the most impressive hillforts in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The remains of Pen-y-Crug hillfort can be found on The Crug, a hill 1.5 miles northwest of Brecon, at a height of 331m. Its ramparts, which today are rounded earthwork banks and ditches, would once have been impressive stone and earth revetments with a wooden defensive palisade built on top. They allowed those who occupied the hillfort to defend themselves and proved a formidable obstacle to anyone attempting to attack the settlement. Entry to the interior of the hillfort was gained through a single well-guarded entrance on the southeast side of the hillfort.
Although, above ground, little survives of the round houses, stock pens and granaries that once occupied the interior of the hillfort, during the Iron Age Pen-y-Crug would have been a very busy place, where people lived, worked, farmed and traded. It may have even been an important political, social and religious centre for the local area.
It is clear to see why Iron Age peoples chose to build a defendable settlement here. The hill has extensive views of the central Brecon Beacons, and also views to a number of neighbouring hillforts including Coed Fenni Fach on the adjacent (now wooded) hill and to Twyn-y-Gaer on Mynydd Illtud on the other side of the valley.
What there is to see at Pen-y-Crug
Today the site is situated on common land and is owned and managed by the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
The walk to the hillfort is well worth the trip, coupling impressive archaeological remains with breathtaking and expansive views of the Central Beacons.
The hillfort remains that are visible today date back to the Iron Age (c.800BC to 75AD), although there is some evidence of possible earlier occupation on the site. There are up to five surviving ramparts, made of earth and stone, standing well over a metre high in places and enclosing an area of almost two hectares.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, areas of the hill on which Pen-y-Crug sits was occupied by a brick and tile works, and worked as a tile quarry; complexes of leats, old quarry workings and clay pits, trackways and kilns hint at this role of the Crug as a locally important industrial site.