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Cremation Urns

The identification of Bodfari with the elusive Roman station of Varis, comes in no small part with the discovery of a variety of Roman finds, including a hoard of silver denarii to the west of the village and that of a silver bead in the garden of Hill View.  However, most interesting of all was the discovery of a series of cremation urns.  These were first recorded by Richard Fenton in 1808 while searching for Varis, and written of in his, ‘Tours in Wales’ (1804-1813).  These were found at a site close to that which has been traditionally believed to be where Varis stood, Pontruffydd Hall Farm (084698).  The enthusiastic Fenton writes,


‘Resumed our search after Varis and the Roman road, and took the turnpike to Pontryfndd…Rode up to the field under and about Bodfari, traversing them in every direction, but found no traces of the Station.  But on our return, we hailed a farmer in an adjoining field, who, to satisfy our various enquiries, said that close by, in a plantation belonging to Ponttruffydd House…and in digging at the present trees on the spot…many urns were found.  This induced us to look at the spot referred to, and never did a place strike us as better situated, being the first gentle eminence that occurs after crossing the Clwyd…and it is called by a very remarkable name, Cae yr orsedd, the Field of the Supreme Council…We were told by one of the labourers about the house, who was likewise present at the digging up of the urns, that they were red at bottom, and black in the bellying part, and covers of the same manufactory, which clearly proves them Roman.  On enquiring what became of them, he said they were again buried, as they contained ashes and bones imperfectly burned.


There has been some debate as to whether the urns were Bronze Age, since there is some suggestion that a barrow was once within the field.  However, there are no remains of any such barrow, and the identification of them as Roman is probably correct.  The fact that cremation urns were, in this context, usually military does lend weight to a fort being present close by.

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