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Exploring Roman Caerleon

04 Hydref 2007

Excavations by University archaeologists on the site of the legionary fortress at Caerleon have revealed new insights into the Roman army’s occupation of Wales.

Staff and students from the School of History and Archaeology, working in conjunction with archaeologists from University College London, have confirmed that the south-western part of the fortress, once home to over 5,000 citizen soldiers of the Second Augustan Legion, was crammed with buildings, including barrack blocks, granaries and a warehouse or industrial workshop.

This is the first time that the University has undertaken an archaeological dig in Caerleon and the team's discoveries cast a new light on the layout of the Roman Fortress and the lives of its inhabitants.

Project director and lecturer at the School of History and Archaeology, Peter Guest, said: "This was a fantastic opportunity for the University to work on such an important site for understanding the Roman period in Britain. The remains of the fortress at Caerleon are internationally important and our surveys and excavations are contributing to a more complete picture of the history of the fortress, and of the soldiers and their families that lived in and around it almost 2,000 years ago."

The dig concentrated on the southern corner of the fortress in an area known as Priory Field and followed geophysical surveys conducted by students from the School last year. The excavations revealed the walls and floors of several buildings and retrieved many fascinating artefacts.

"We found that the archaeology has survived remarkably well," said Dr Guest. "Caerleon is a particularly rich site for archaeologists and we recovered a remarkable range of material from the Roman period, including pottery, items of military equipment and animal bone - all of which will help to tell us about the lifestyle of the fortress’ inhabitants."

The School intends to continue its work at Caerleon in the future and uncover more information about the Roman fortress, which was one of only three such legionary bases in Britain.