Edge of Empire: Romans in South Wales

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Life in ancient Caerleon and Caerwent

The most Westerly part of the Roman Empire, South East Wales presents some of the finest Roman remains in the UK, boasting both Caerleon and Caerwent, which invite us to consider not only the lives of soldiers but the lives of ordinary people in a Celtic town. Caerleon, the headquarters for the Legio II Augusta, presents a number of photogenic remains, including barracks, baths and an amphitheater; it was also known by both Bede and Gildas, who described the martyrdoms of two saints, Julius and Aaron. In turn, Caerwent, the ancient town of Venta Silurum, built by Rome to accommodate the defeated Celtic Silures, is one of the hidden gems of Roman Britain, boasting the best-preserved Roman city wall in the country with magnificent projecting towers. Within the walls, we will visit the excavated remains which include part of the Forum/Basilica, a temple, a number of houses and shops. In the medieval church a Roman statue base, altar and other fragments of sculpture are on display.

Two kilometres (1¼ miles) to the north of Caerwent, occupying a prominent hilltop overlooking the Severn Estuary, are the remains of an impressive hillfort, Llanmelin Camp (Figure 5). Occupied in the Iron Age it is thought to be a major centre of the Silures prior to the Roman conquest. The earthwork remains comprise a main enclosure with a series of annexes on the south-east side. To the north are the remains of a smaller earthwork enclosure known as ‘The Outpost’. First surveyed by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, limited excavations were undertaken by Victor Nash-Williams between 1931 and 1932 and recognised three phases of occupation; an early phase hillfort flanked by extra mural occupation to the east was superceded in the 2nd century BC by a multivallate expansion of the original hillfort.

  • No Twin rooms available for this tour

Tour highlights:

  • Enjoy a behind the scenes tour of the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon in the company of Dr Mark Lewis/or Evan Chapman who is senior Curator of Archaeology at NMW
  • Visit Caerleon, one of the most important legionary barracks in the Roman Empire
  • Explore Caerwent with its impressive Roman wall, one of the most significant in Britain

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Tour dates & prices

Included in your cost:

  • Expert Guide Lecturer
  • Meals as per the itinerary, wine and tea or coffee with dinner
  • Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
  • Accommodation
  • Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
  • All taxes & gratuities
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