A LOST Roman city was uncovered in Newport yesterday, as researchers from Cardiff University found a huge complex of buildings in Caerleon.

Students detected walls below the ground in fields outside the fortress outlining a series of huge buildings between the amphitheatre and the River Usk, in an area experts thought was largely unoccupied during the Roman era.

The find is described as being of international importance, and is set to change the way experts think about Britain's Roman history.

Senior lecturer in Roman archaeology, Dr Peter Guest, said the find looked like the centre of a Roman town or city, raising new questions about what Caerleon was used for.

It could be the first evidence Romans planned to develop Caerleon into a major settlement in Western Britain.

He said: "The buildings' grand plans suggest that they were of some importance. We think that they could have included markets, administrative buildings like town halls or even possibly temples. The biggest is enormous and must be one of the largest buildings known from Roman Britain."

A team of archaeologists from Cardiff University, as well as staff and students of University College, London, will begin a six-week dig to help determine how far below the ground the remains are hidden to get an indication of their age.

Dr Mark Lewis from the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon said: "We can't know what we are going to find in the next few weeks, but it's clearly of huge significance."

“Any discovery at Caerleon was likely to be internationally important, because the fortress was a permanent base for the Second Augustan legion once the Roman invasion was complete.

He added: "There were only 30 Roman legions across the whole Roman empire at any one time and one of them was based in Caerleon, so any discovery is important in the history of the Roman army throughout the rest of the empire."

* Tours of some of the Caerleon excavation sites will run Tuesday to Sunday at 11am and 2.30pm between now and September 17, or can be viewed online at www.britarch.ac.uk/caf