WORK on a gas main yesterday uncovered evidence of a Roman fort in Monmouth, older than its Caerleon counterpart and capable of holding 2,000 troops.

Steve Clarke of Monmouth Archaeology found evidence of a Roman fort in Monmouth, including hundreds of items including pottery and bones which confirms a fort, believed to be the oldest in Wales, existed in AD55. The find provides further evidence a fort covered most of the town centre.

Mr Clarke, 68, said: "We can now say it’s 25 years older than the Caerleon Fort and there were around 2,000 troops here."

"We always thought a Roman Fort was here," he added.

The expert was hired to monitor work whilst contractors AMEC Utilities carry out a 16-week project to replace gas mains in the town centre for Wales & West Utilities.

During the past fortnight Mr Clarke has uncovered numerous finds, including a Norman Bailey ditch, circa 1080, plants, leather and bones and a Roman road in St John’s Street.

They date from pre-Norman times to the Medieval era as well as mid first century Roman pottery made in Southern Gaul (France) and unexplained preserved timber.

The team has excavated St John’s Street, Agincourt Street and Glendower Street and will continue while maintenance work is ongoing.

Archaeologist Dr Mark Lewis said the find in Monmouth would have been part of a system of forts founded as the Roman invasion advanced into South Wales, and the discovery of this strategic fortress is likely to be of national significance in the Roman history of Britain.