assigned to the late Dark Ages or early Norman period.
It is too early to assess fully the site, but a few general observations can be cautiously speculated. The paucity of what can be termed as domestic evidence, and of fittings normally found in residentiallyorientated buildings, together with the presence of brick levelling courses, and the fact that the building was constructed as one integral whole and was not the result of 'piece-meal' development over a prolonged period of occupation, would appear to suggest that the building was not the result of civilian enterprise. In addition the date range for its occupation is somewhat unusual in that it extends, on the basis of a provisional examination of the finds, from the second century until post A.D. 350, the latter period being poorly represented in this part of the province, with the exception of Llantwit Manor.
If the building cannot be termed as civilian, then by natural extension it must be recognised as some form of official construction, and it is here that the site's location must be seriously considered as important to our understanding of its function. Until the seventeenth century the area now occupied by the nearby boating lake and gardens to the south-east was a small harbour, and it is tempting to believe that the building was in some way connected with maritime activities.
Finds from the excavation, were very few considering the length of apparent occupation involved, but include three coins of Victorinius (A.D. 268-70), Allectus (A.D. 293-6), and Constantinus Chlorus (A.D. 305-6). Three bronze brooches, glass vessel fragments, a shale bangle and an iron mason's trowel represent the majority of the small objects recorded. Pottery included third to fourth century Oxfordshire wares and also a stamped (Docilis) mortarium of second century date, together with a variety of local and imported wares.
The site has now been scheduled as an ancient monument and following consolidation work is to be opened to the general public.
Excavations in progress at 'Roman Gates', Caerleon. A barrack block is in the foreground, the via sagularis and rampart in the background.
EXTENSIVE excavations are taking place at Caerleon, directed for the Trust by Vivienne Metcalf. Here a large area just inside the east gate was "de-scheduled" several years ago in order to allow houses to be erected on ground that had been open since the Roman period, and now an eighteen month long excavation is being mounted in order to clear the site.
Already one major discovery has been made. As was anticipated, the site was occupied in the legionary fortress by barrack blocks, but instead of these being deserted in the late 3rd century—according to the conventional wisdom, Caerleon was abandone d by the usurpe r Carausius—the latest rebuilding now seems to date to 325-345. Furthermore this rebuilding was not in the classic barrack block style, but in the 'chalet' style that is now becoming well-known along Hadrian's Wall in the 4th century, when the communal barrack blocks were replaced by individual family units.
Following the military phase, there was a much cruder structure with bow-sided ends and a paved floor, which was presumably used for domestic purposes, possibly by civilians occupying the dismantled fortress. It should be noted that this building represents the first postlegionary structure found at Caerleon, probably because for the first time the work currently being undertaken is employing modern methods of excavation.
But what a pity that redevelopment has to take place within the 43 acres of the legionary fortress! If development has to take place within this area (which is now on the outskirts of Newport) could not a 40 acre field outside the fortress be designated for this purpose?
Meanwhile, parts of the legionary bath-house which were excavated several years ago, including a cold bath and the end of a very large swimming bath are now being preserved, and a cover building is to be erected over them.