Roman times

First published in Letters

CAERLEON and Bassaleg are the two known Romano-British sites within the boundary of the City and County of Newport.

Bassaleg may have been derived from the conflation of the word sounds of basilica and eglwys.

Basilica is the Latin name for an assembly building and eglwys the Welsh name for church. Bassaleg is located on the banks of the Sirhowy-Ebbw River, near the hillside on which once stood a small Roman fort (a gaer).

The Gaer was an ideal fortress site – with views across the Severn Estuary, the Gwent Levels and western valleys. The Roman garrison was stationed on the Gaer for at least 100 years.

The Romans are likely to have built a small number of buildings (including a basilica) at Bassaleg, where the western branch of the Roman Via Julia begins.

The Via Julia started at Caerwent, then passed through the (now) Celtic Manor Resort to Caerleon. The route through Newport is unknown.

It continued from Bassaleg to Carmarthen. There could be other (albeit lost) Roman sites in Newport, such as in Stow Hill and Baneswell.

Brian Hayes, Clearwell Court, Bassaleg

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