THE ROMANS play an integral role in the story of Welsh history.

Roman forces reached our borders in AD 48, five years after conquest of Britain began.

At that time, Wales did not exist in any meaningful sense, but was populated by a collection of scattered tribes.

The Romans saw themselves as bringing their civilisation and culture to the ‘barbarian’ world, considering themselves as superior to that of others.

Indeed, they were willing to die for it; the clashes with the Celts were ferocious, bloody and deadly.

Despite bravely resisting the Roman onslaught, Wales ultimately fell under Rome’s control - and it lasted for around 350 years.

Throughout Gwent are relics and signposts of Roman conquerors.

Here are all the sites that have thrown up ruins, artefacts and insights into their rule.

Caerleon - fortress and baths

Known as Isca to the Romans, the 2,000-year-old fortress is believed to be a play-card shape and covers 50 acres of land.

It held a force of approximately 5,600 men.

You can still see the cramped rooms where the men slept and stored their weapons - the only Roman legionary barracks still on view in Europe.

And inside the museum, you can explore what remains of the open-air swimming pool.

It once held more than 80,000 gallons of water, making it the perfect place for a dip to relax after ferocious battles with ancient Britons.

Caerleon - amphitheatre

Just a few minutes down the road is the most complete Amphitheatre in Britain.

A timber grandstand would have seated around 6,000 people – all baying for blood as gladiators battled for survival.

It was built around AD 90, with the stone structure uncovered in 1926 after 30,000 tonnes of soil was removed from the surface.

South Wales Argus:

It is the most complete amphitheatre in Britain

The museum opens from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 4pm Sunday and prices start a £2.50.

Adult - £4.20

Family - £12.20

Disabled and companion - free

Juniors (5-17), NUS, Armed Forces and Veterans - £2.50

Seniors (65+) - £3.40


A settlement of three stone buildings dating from between the 2nd and 4th Centuries AD have been unearthed recently by archaeologists at the site of a housing development in Llanwern.

The findings comprise an apsed building, which is thought to contain a small number of burials, a rectangular building, a mosaic floor and a circular building.

South Wales Argus:

The Llanwern find. Picture: Cotswold Archaeology

The Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust monitored the work on behalf of Newport City Council.

Redrow, the housing developer, plans to recover selected finds from the site and incorporate them into a display in the school proposed as part of the development.

Cotswold Archaeology will also host a talk, once the project has finished, to local history enthusiasts.

South Wales Argus:

The fragment of mosaic floor at Llanwern. Picture: Cotswold Archaeology

Newport - Hartridge Farm Road

In 2017, ruins were discovered at a site where Gypsies and Travellers were set to occupy.

The artefacts included roundhouses, uniform field divisions, stone-lined walls and drains.

The findings did not delay the Gypsy and Traveller site as the objects were transferred to a Newport City Council facility.

South Wales Argus:

The ruins were uncovered in 2017

Newport - Celtic Manor golf course

In 1996, when the Celtic Manor golf course was being built, archaeologists discovered a kiln - a thermally insulated chamber, much like an oven - and the remains of several buildings.

Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust oversaw the archaeological considerations prior to the course’s construction and worked closely with the designers to ensure the preservation of historical material and features.

Indeed, when the pottery kiln was found during the construction of one of the greens, the green was re-designed to avoid it.

Usk Roman Fortress

Excavations in Usk during the 1960s revealed a vast fortress that was once home to Rome’s 20th Legion.

It is believed to have been built around AD55 as a base for the conquest of south Wales.

But the Romans later relocated their permanent military base further south to Caerleon.

Finds from the excavation can be seen in the Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon.

Caerwent, Monmouthshire

Described as a miniature version of Rome, Caerwent was the settlement of the Silures - a native tribe who became Romanised following the conquest of Britain.

Established around AD75-80, it grew to have a population of roughly 3,000 people.

It was a thriving community, complete with public baths, forums, a temple and town houses.

To this day, walls standing up to 17ft remain, as well as excavated houses, market places and a Romano-British temple.

It is open all year round from 10am to 4pm and is free to enter.

South Wales Argus:

The settlement at Caerwent is still visible today

Gobannium, Abergavenny

A Roman fort called Gobannium was built in Abergavenny around AD 55.

The fort was linked with those at Usk and Brecon and used to control and Romanise the Silures tribe.

It was built on and expanded throughout the following two centuries.

Excavations unearthed remains of two large barrack blocks, a system of ditched and remains of timber buildings.

And pieces of armour, window glass, a large collection of sling stones made of clay were also uncovered and a bronze strap hook used to fasten a sword.

Some of the findings can be seen at the Abergavenny Museum which is free to enter and open 11am to 4pm every day except for Wednesday.



Though not strictly Roman, the site does hold significance in the Roman conquest of south Wales.

The hill forts - which can still be seen - were constructed by native Celts before the advance of the Romans.

Historians believe the Silurum tribe once inhabited the area before they were Romanised at Caerwent, as Llanemelin appears to have abandoned in around AD 75, when Caerwent was established.

Excavations have revealed that inhabitants lived in circular houses made of timber and mud; they also kept cows, sheep, pigs and used pottery.