Washington, Nov 22 : Researchers have developed a 3D model of a 2,900-year-old massive fort that is located in central Wales.
Commanded by warrior chiefs who loomed over the everyday lives of their people, the massive Iron Age fortress, part of the prehistoric settlement of Gaer Fawr, once dominated the landscape.
Now, according to a report in National Geographic News, the structure lives again, thanks to a digital recreation following a painstaking survey by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.
The Iron Age hill fort in central Wales was a major feat of civil engineering, according to researchers.
"Because Gaer Fawr is densely wooded, it's been little understood in the past," said Royal Commission archaeologist Toby Driver.
"Our new survey has shown what a very impressive and advanced building it was. This was a very bold architectural statement by Iron Age people," he added.
The study involved thousands of measurements taken in 2007, which were used build a digital terrain model of the 21-acre (5.8-hectare) site.
Driver said that measurements were made manually using lasers beamed to handheld posts, each bearing a reflector.
"The thought behind the survey was that if we could map the contours underneath the woods, we could then strip the trees off and then see what the fort looked like in the landscape," he added.
The results show that the oval-shaped stronghold was defended by five tiers of stone-faced earthen ramparts, each measuring up to 26 feet (8 meters) in height.
Two entranceways led up to gates to the northeast and southwest of the summit, where a timber fortress once stood.
The hill fort's flat summit was later extended to the west, possibly to accommodate a growing population. "It's not a single build. New ramparts and new gateways were constructed over earlier ones," Driver said.
Past archaeological finds, including a nearby cache of Bronze Age weapons, suggest the hill fort was active from about 900 B.C. until the Roman invasion of Britain in A.D. 43.
According to the study team, the fort occupied a strategically important area for trade and agriculture between the fertile plains of England and the Welsh hills.
The border region has the highest concentration of Iron Age hill forts in Western Europe, Driver noted.
"This land would have supported a lot of people and hill forts would have risen up to control these populations," he said.