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23 February 2011
In 2010, students and archaeologists from the School of History, Archaeology and Religion made a discovery that could change the way we think about the conquest and colonisation of Roman Britain.
Geophysical surveys revealed a suburb of monumental buildings squeezed into the ground between Caerleon’s amphitheatre and the River Usk.
"At the moment we cannot be certain when these buildings were built or what they were for, but their size and layout suggests that they were public buildings that could have included markets, administrative buildings, bath-houses and perhaps temples. This suburb of civic buildings looks like it should be at the centre of a town or city, but so far there is no evidence for the presence of a large civilian population living around Caerleon," said Dr Peter Guest, Roman archaeologist at Cardiff University.
"The biggest is enormous and must be one of the largest buildings known from Roman Britain. We can only guess what it was for, but at the moment we’re working on the idea that it had something to do with a port on the river. Trial trenches excavated last summer may have located the fortress’s main quay, but what the other buildings were for remains a mystery," he added.
2010 was also the final season of excavation in Priory Field, Caerleon, where archaeologists from Cardiff and University College London have been investigating the remains of the legion’s main store or warehouse. This major excavation produced thousands of finds, some of which will provide a remarkable insight into the lives of the soldiers who lived in Caerleon almost 2,000 years ago. Parts of several suits of armour and other military equipment were recovered in Priory Field in 2010, which are being examined in the University’s laboratories as well as in the National Museum Cardiff.
Dr Guest will give a special St David’s Day lecture about the discoveries at Caerleon to University staff and students on Tuesday 1 March at 12 o’clock in Redwood lecture theatre (0.21), Redwood Building. No booking is needed – staff and students can turn up on the day.
A free public lecture at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport on the Ides of March (15th) will give members of the public the chance to hear first-hand details from the dig and get up-close with some of the remarkable finds.
In the Roman calendar, the Ides of March was a day of festivities and military parades, though we remember it as the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. Archaeologists from Cardiff University and University College London will use the event to speak about their remarkable discoveries and what it means for Welsh and British history.
The talk starts at 7.00pm at the Celtic Manor Resort (Augusta Suite in the Lodge Club House). Free parking is available in the Lodge car park (access via the Resort’s main entrance and Cats Ash Road entrance – follow signs for The Lodge).
Booking is essential. To reserve a place for the Celtic Manor event please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 02920 876935.
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