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Caerleon Legionary Fortress: School Fields

A Scheduled Monument in Caerleon (Caerllion), Newport (Casnewydd)

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6101 / 51°36'36"N

Longitude: -2.958 / 2°57'28"W

OS Eastings: 333754

OS Northings: 190574

OS Grid: ST337905

Mapcode National: GBR J7.9W2M

Mapcode Global: VH7B6.PS1L

Entry Name: Caerleon Legionary Fortress: School Fields

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 3306

Cadw Legacy ID: MM234

Schedule Class: Defence

Category: Legionary fortress

Period: Roman

County: Newport (Casnewydd)

Community: Caerleon (Caerllion)

Built-Up Area: Caerleon

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

Description

The monument comprises buried features and earthworks representing part of a Roman legionary fortress. The fortress at Caerleon, or Isca, is one of only three permanent legionary fortresses in Britain and was founded around AD75. Its construction was probably linked to the campaigns of the Governor of Britannia, Julius Frontinus, against the Silures. The fortress was home to the 2nd Augusta Legion, a legion of over 500 men. The site of the fortress was chosen for its position on gently rising ground adjacent to the river Usk at a point where it could be bridged but was also accessible to sea-going ships, and on the road between Wroxeter, Gloucester and Carmarthen. The fortress covered an area of 50 acres and conformed to the standard playing card design, had a gated entrance in the middle of each side and was divided into insulae, or blocks, by a network of roads. The fortress was in use by the 2nd Augusta Legion until around AD300 after which it continued to be partly occupied although there is no clear evidence to determine whether the occupation was military or civilian.

The scheduled area covers the playing field of Charles Williams Church in Wales Primary School and is located N of the via principalis and immediately inside the W defences of the fort. Geophysical survey of the playing field has revealed evidence of a large square building complex that occupies one whole insula. The building measures 70m by 65m and comprises a central courtyard surrounding on all sides by ranges and probably an ambulatory. Individual rooms within each of the ranges can be discerned on the survey and the structure was evidently stone-built and substantial. The site has not been excavated but its layout conforms to military architecture of the early roman period in Britain and so is probably contemporary with the establishment of the fortress at Isca. Further detail from the geophysical survey has provided evidence that the structure was used for ironworking, and it is thought that the building was a workshop for blacksmiths and smelters. The survey revealed a series of barrack blocks at the S end of the playing field. These are separated from the courtyard building by an E/W orientated road, located in the insula to the S. The barrack blocks are thought to be related to those excavated by Nash Williams in Golledge’s field in the 1930s.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of Roman military organisation. The monument forms an important element within the wider context of the Roman occupation of Wales and the structures may contain well preserved archaeological evidence concerning chronology, layout and building techniques.

The scheduled areas comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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