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Despite these improvements, Cardiff's position in the Welsh urban hierarchy had declined over the 18th century.Iolo Morganwg called it "an obscure and inconsiderable place", and the 1801 census found the population to be only 1,870, making Cardiff only the 25th largest town in Wales, well behind Merthyr and Swansea.The fort may have been abandoned in the early 2nd century as the area had been subdued.However, by this time a civilian settlement, or vicus, was established.Coins from the reign of Gratian indicate that Cardiff was inhabited until at least the 4th century; the fort was abandoned towards the end of the 4th century, as the last Roman legions left the province of Britannia with Magnus Maximus.Little is known about the fort and civilian settlement in the period between the Roman departure from Britain and the Norman Conquest.In 1905, Cardiff was made a city and proclaimed the capital of Wales in 1955. The Cardiff Built-up Area covers a slightly larger area outside the county boundary and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth.Since the 1980s, Cardiff has seen significant development.
A writer around this period described Cardiff: "The River Taff runs under the walls of his honours castle and from the north part of the town to the south part where there is a fair quay and a safe harbour for shipping." During the Second English Civil War, St Fagans just to the west of the town, played host to the Battle of St Fagans.
Although some sources repeat this theory, it has been rejected on linguistic grounds by modern scholars such as Professor Archaeological evidence from sites in and around Cardiff: the St Lythans burial chamber near Wenvoe, (approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) to the west of Cardiff city centre); the Tinkinswood burial chamber, near St Nicholas (about 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Cardiff city centre), the Cae'rarfau Chambered Tomb, Creigiau (about 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of Cardiff city centre) and the Gwern y Cleppa Long Barrow, near Coedkernew, Newport (about 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Cardiff city centre), all show that people had settled in the area by at least around 6000 BC, during the early Neolithic; about 1,500 years before either Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed.
Until the Roman conquest of Britain, Cardiff was part of the territory of the Silures – a Celtic British tribe that flourished in the Iron Age – whose territory included the areas that would become known as Breconshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorgan.
This sound change had probably first occurred in the Middle Ages; both forms were current in the Tudor period.
Caerdyf has its origins in post-Roman Brythonic words meaning "the fort of the Taff".