By the time that the Romans came, the Iron Age had reached Britain. Few discoveries from the Iron Age are found in Wales, probably because this region was deliberately left by the new-comers to the Bronze Age peoples. From the existence of a Roman fortress we can deduce that there was a considerable population in the district. In this fortress local men would have been trained.
While all these features may appear to be remote and to have very little effect on our time, from them important developments have occurred. The basic Welsh population arrived. The mountain way was the roadway of the past and links between southern Britain and Ireland have been forged.
Megalithic sites having religious significance were established. General farming practice featuring the more important use of livestock was developed by the Beaker Folk and as recently as the early nineteenth century a writer could still say of Geliigaer Common "only a small portion is arable, the farmers relying more upon the feeding of sheep and the increase of their livestock than upon agriculture ".
THE ARRIVAL OF THE ROMANS
Nearly 2,000 years ago a Roman presence was established in Gelligaer. Such was the advanced state of their society and buildings and it is recorded that the Celtic prince Caradog, when captured and taken to Rome, looked in wonder at its civic splendour and asked his captors " Since you have all this, why do you covet our huts ? "
Caradog, or Caractacus, was the most famous of Brythonic heroes in the resistance movement to the Roman occupation of our island. After fighting thirty fierce battles, he eventually had to eave the Romans masters of the plain and retire to the mountains of the west, where he found refuge among the Silures.
These Silures were one of the four British tribes who inhabited Wales at that time, and dwelt where the old counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire now lie, so that the Fochriw area stood right in the heart of the Silurian territory.
The subduing of the fierce forefathers of the men of Gwent and Morgannwg, led by the able Caradog, proved to be the most difficult part of the Roman conquest. The final battle was fought in the country of another Welsh tribe, the Ordivices, where Caradog led a confederation of Brythonic tribes. It was a decisive victory for the Romans.
Caradog had struggled against the might of Rome for nine hard years in an attempt to achieve a Brythonic unity of Britain, and the outcome of his last great battle decided that the Roman, and not the Brython, was to rule the isle of Britain.
The name Caradog lived on in Celtic song and stories and is supposed to be commemorated by Pont Caradog, at Groesfaen. This stone structure, now in ruins, is, however, a nineteenth-century pack horse bridge, but it marks the site of an ancient Silurian and Roman ford across the Bargoed Fach River. Link to Google Earth