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This is an old revision of CLFBackground from 2010-06-02 18:00:05.

Caerleon Legionary Fortress

Priory Field Excavations 2008 and 2010

Project Background

The excavations being undertaken in Priory Field are linked to a broader research project entitled Mapping Isca: the legionary fortress at Caerleon and its environs, which aims to investigate the layout, development and history of the fortress, its garrison and the population of the settlement beyond the fortress walls (the canabae). This project is supported by the Caerleon Research Committee (

Three legions were permanently garrisoned in the Roman province of Britannia. The other legionary bases are beneath the cities of Chester and York where excavation of the remains of Roman fortresses is very difficult. This means the archaeology at Caerleon is unique in Britain and important for the entire Roman Empire.

In 2004, Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, supported by Cadw, produced 'The Roman fortress at Caerleon & its Environs: a Framework for Research'. This document emphasised the layout of the fortress and the civilian settlement (canabae) outside its walls as research priorities, and also highlighted the potential of previously uninvestigated parts of the fortress, such as Priory Field, to produce significant results.

As a result of these recommendations Cardiff University and Cadw commissioned extensive geophysical surveys of areas of the fortress and its canabae, which have been undertaken since 2006 (see Guest and Young 2007). In 2007 Cardiff University and UCL excavated a series of evaluation trenches to investigate some of the buildings located by the geophysical surveys, to evaluate the character of the surviving archaeology in Priory Field and to examine a building excavated in Golledge's Field in the 1930s. An interim report on this work is available on the Caerleon Research Committee website

Caerleon from the air (Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)
Caerleon from the air (Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

The 2008 Priory Field Excavations

In July and August 2008, the UCL-Cardiff excavation team opened up a large trench on the site of a possible warehouse building identified in the survey work. This building promised to be revealing of aspects of legionary life that have hitherto been neglected, and we also hoped to shed light on the later phases of the fortress. Our results very clearly satisfied both of these objectives.

For more details on the 2008 season, see the excavation blog and also the interim report on the CRC website (

Excavations in 2008: alterations to the Roman warehouse
Excavations in 2008: alterations to the Roman warehouse


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