History – Archaeological Period

Palaeolithic (250,000BC to 10,000BC)

During the last Ice Age much of the district was affected by glaciers and arctic tundra conditions held sway. No finds in the current Gorslas community have been found from Palaeolithic times, but the nearest known finds are bones found in the 19th century at the Pantyllyn or Craig-y-Derwyddon caves near Llandybie. Animal bones found within the cave included wild boar and elk. A hyena’s tooth found in Dinas cave, Llandybie is also a reminder of how different the flora and fauna of the district must have been over 10,000 years ago.

Mesolithic (10,000BC to 4,000BC)

It is possible that in Mesolithic times this district was a periodic hunting area for communities based further to the south, in the area of Carmarthen Bay, which has been flooded by rising sea-levels since the end of the Ice Age. The people of this time were hunter-gatherers, and moved from place to place rather than living in settled communities.

Neolithic (4,000BC to 2,500BC)

The Neolithic was the age of the first farmers. For the first time in this country, settled communities tied to the land developed. The nearest Neolithic sites being a now lost stone circle site recorded at Llandybie and the find-spot of a Neolithic flint axe found at Ammanford.

Bronze Age (2,500BC to 800BC)

Two finds of Bronze Age artefacts have been recorded in this district; a bronze spearhead and associated cremation burial and a narrow bronze axe or chisel. It is significant that both have been found in fissures or crevices in limestone bedrock in the area between Foelgastell and Maesybont.

A third important site of apparent Bronze Age date in the same area is the standing stone known as Lech y Tair Ffin. Less than 1km to the southeast of the stone is Llyn Llech Owain, the name of which seems to indicate that another stone may well have been present in the area.

It is possible, therefore, that this area was a focus of human activity, perhaps settlement, during the Bronze Age, a period that was characterised by the spread of agriculture and permanent settlement across the county.

Iron Age (800BC to 43AD)

At present, there is no evidence of settlement or other activity within the community area that dates to the Iron Age (700BC-70AD) or the Roman period (70AD-350AD), although there can be little doubt that there were agricultural communities in the district throughout that time. This is certainly suggested by archaeological evidence from neighbouring communities. A small Iron Age hill fort is known a few kilometres to the southwest at Limestone Hill, Crwbin and other Iron Age hill forts are known along the length of the Tywi valley to the north, such as the celebrated examples at Grongar Hill, Dryslwyn and Alltfyrddin (Merlin’s Hill), Abergwili.

One fascinating link with the traditions of the Iron Age Celts survives in the mention of Glynystyn in the collection of ancient tales known as the Mabinogi. The name survived locally as a farm name until recent decades, but the dwelling has now been demolished.

Roman (43AD to 410AD)

The Tywi valley is noted for the Roman road that connects Llandovery, Llandeilo and Carmarthen, all of which had Roman military forts in the late first century AD and developed small vicus towns during the second century. With another Roman fort at Loughor, to the south, it is clear that Gorslas community lies in a region that was settled and farmed, if only partially, before and during the years of Roman influence.

Like many communities, Gorslas has at least one tradition of a ‘Roman Road’ within its boundaries. An old track way (now disused) that approached the mediaeval Capel Erbach from the south is said locally to be ‘an old Roman Road’, but this is more like to be a mediaeval or early post-mediaeval road that gave access to the chapel-of-ease.