IT was a still, clear, warm afternoon in mid-November. Roses, primroses and heather bloomed in my garden. I had lately seen chestnuts and strawberries for sale on the same stall in Newport market, and raspberries were 3s a pound in Cheltenham.

And here was I, sunning myself on the rampart of Sudbrook Camp, with the Severn Sea before me, empty but for the Denny.

Sudbrook Camp has always exerted a powerful influence over me. Only half of its embankments remain, for the sea has engulfed the rest. The camp was old when the Romans came, as Dr Nash-Williams has demonstrated, and there is no doubt about its purpose. It was constructed to guard the Porth-is-Coed—the port below the wood Wentwood.

Where was the port? Where was the harbour? The Welsh triads describe it as one of the three great ports of Britain, and the evidence of the learned and dependable J. G. Wood, F.S.A., is of great assistance to us.

Writing in 1914, he avers: “Seventy-ton barges floated up St. Pierre Pill upon the tide half-a-mile above the viaduct, and used as late as 1860 and within my own recollection, to lie up to discharge coal for St. Pierre House. It was no doubt at one time tidal nearly to the point where the Roman road crossed it at New Inn” (at the foot of Pwllmeyric Hill). “This would be a mile and a quarter further upstream.”

This “harbour” was the estuary of the Mounton Brook, which nearer the sea is named Pwllmeyric Brook. In the old days when the volume of water was considerably greater it was enough to work Linnet Mill, Lady Mill, and Lark Mill at Mounton.

In 1846 Brunel built a viaduct a quarter of a mile long over the Pill, and this was replaced in 1860 by an embankment which has since borne the railway traffic. A glance at the ancient maps of Monmouthshire confirms J. G. Wood’s account of the estuary.

“Porth-is-Coed”—the name of the harbour—became also the name of the manor, which extended from the harbour to the South Brook (Sudbrook), and also of the village quite a mile from the harbour (Portskewett).

Mr. Wood concluded that St. Pierre Pill and Sudbrook Pill were harbours dating from Roman times, and that the crossing from the end of the Via Julia at Avonmouth was either to St. Pierre Pill or to Sudbrook Pill, both guarded by Sudbrook Camp.

It is safe now to state that the Porth-is-Coed was in use in pre-Roman times. On Saxton’s map “Trenytie Chapel’ is shown just to the east of Sudbrook Camp, and as I stood and sketched the ruins of the little church I became aware of a trinity of men’s works which spanned the centuries. The camp, at least 2,000 years old, and the church, at least 700 years old, were cheek by jowl with the Severn Tunnel pumping station, not yet 80 years old.

There is a great charm in the grey ruins of Holy Trinity, Sudbrook. It is difficult to account for its erection here, unless it was a private chapel for John Southbrooke, who is mentioned in the Wentwood Survey of 1276.

As I walked around the ruins and stood on the edge of “Trinity Cliff” I recalled that Octavius Morgan, in 1858, gave us the names of some of the rocks and sandbanks near Sudbrook : “Bed-win,” “Cruggy,” “the hillocks,” “the birchen grove,” “Dinan,” and the fortified hills” are surely folk-memories of an inhabited land suddenly swamped by the Severn Sea.

And at an inquiry in 1758 was there not a witness who swore that he had mown grass on Charston Rock, which was then joined to “the continent ?” All this seems to point to a bigger parish for Holy Trinity than we envisage to-day.

Holy Trinity at Sudbrook was in use, it seems, to the end of the eighteenth century. Bradney tells us that one of the last to be buried there was Captain Blethin Smith of Sudbrook, who left instructions that his corpse was to be borne to the grave by six seafaring men.

On the short journey from Sudbrook to Portskewett I stopped just short of the railway bridge to admire the lovely view of the village, silhouetted against the misty grey of the wooded hill.

There are three relics of Norman workmanship in the Church, and in the churchyard to the west is the traditional site of the palace where Harold entertained Edward the Confessor.

The village stocks, which stood for centuries on the churchyard bank facing the main road, have now been removed to Chepstow. Why ?