Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre

Newport, United Kingdom

Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.

Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.

Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.



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Mr. Victorious Jaffar Wattoo (11 months ago)
Caerleon Roman Fortress Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths encompass the archaeological ruins and sites of the Legionary Fortress of Isca Augusta spread across the town of Caerleon, near the city of Newport, South Wales. Notable for being one of only three permanent legionary fortresses from Roman Britain (the others being York and Chester), Caerleon has provided a unique opportunity to study the archaeology of a Roman Legionary fortress, less affected by the medieval and subsequent urban activity of most such fortresses. Having attracted the attention of eminent archaeologists throughout the 20th century it now has four major public archaeological venues, including the museum run by Cadw, called 'Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths' (Welsh: Caer a Baddonau Rhufeinig Caerllion Amgueddfa), featuring the excavated fortress bath-house. Also open to the public is the most complete excavated amphitheatre in Britain, a series of barracks and the National Roman Legion Museum. The fortress and its surrounding civil settlement have been the subject of continuing major archaeological investigations into the 21st century. Background and history Main articles: Isca Augusta and Caerleon Roman Wales was the farthest point west that the Roman Empire in Roman Britain extended to, and as a defence point, the fortress at Caerleon built in AD 75 was one of only three permanent Roman Legionary fortresses in Roman Britain. It was occupied and operational for just over 200 years. Caerleon's archaeological history The earliest description of Caerleon's Roman ruins is in Gerald of Wales's 12th century Itinerarium Cambriae. He was fully aware of the Roman historical significance of Caerleon and also gives extensive archaeological detail. Much may be fanciful or drawn from other locations however, and the features were certainly not apparent by later centuries. But his description confirmed Caerleon as a notable historical site: Caerleon means the city of Legions, Caer, in the British language, signifying a city or camp, for there the Roman legions, sent into this island, were accustomed to winter, and from this circumstance it was styled the city of legions. This city was of undoubted antiquity, and handsomely built of masonry, with courses of bricks, by the Romans. Many vestiges of its former splendour may yet be seen; immense palaces, formerly ornamented with gilded roofs, in imitation of Roman magnificence, inasmuch as they were first raised by the Roman princes, and embellished with splendid buildings; a tower of prodigious size, remarkable hot baths, relics of temples, and theatres, all inclosed within fine walls, parts of which remain standing. You will find on all sides, both within and without the circuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, aqueducts, underground passages; and what I think worthy of notice, stoves contrived with wonderful art, to transmit the heat insensibly through narrow tubes passing up the side walls. There are further indications that significant ruins or building survived into the medieval period. The vast stone complex of the fortress baths are thought to have been destroyed in the 13th century,and the ditch at 10 Mill Street was identified as still standing open in the Middle Ages. An engraving of 1783 shows a crumbling tower and roman stonework. The Antiquarians Through the 1840s some ad hoc excavations were made, which, along with finds from construction works culminated in the foundation of the Caerleon Antiquarian Association in October 1847, with the twin aims of carrying out excavations and providing a museum to house the finds. An early project, possibly even predating the new Association was an excavation of the extramural bathhouse. This was alongside the medieval castle motte, within its bailey, on land owned by John Jenkins and it was undertaken by John Edward Lee, who became the secretary and initial driving force of the Association.
Andrew Thomas (11 months ago)
Excellent Roman ruins and base for the Second Augustan Legion many years ago. Plenty of Roman things nearby for a full day out including the museum (with Roman gardens), baths and barracks. Lovely town too for a stroll, shopping, lunch or a drink.
Claire Beeson (11 months ago)
Amazing! Worth a visit to see such an amazing project to uncover and protect this Roman site!
Richard Cartwright (12 months ago)
Very interesting visit. I would point out that it's worth reading up details on the internet before your visit. This will give you much more information than you will get when you're there. This really helps with the experience.
Iulia Lucaciu (15 months ago)
Good walk around it. I wish there was a bit more information on site. Very much free to go to but also recommend the roman bathhouse and the barracks
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