Above The flagstone floor alteration to the warehouse under excavation.
opened in Golledge’s Field, where a previous excavation in the 1930s located what are thought to be the centurion’s quarters for the Second Augustan Legion’s senior First Cohort. These trenches found that the Roman archaeology has been only minimally disturbed by later activity and also that Priory Field in particular could well contain important evidence for the history of Isca in the later Roman period, when the archaeological story becomes less clear. The opportunity was taken to continue the excavation programme in Priory Field in
This was the first-ever research excavation undertaken within the fortress and the results show the value of opening large trenches in Caerleon.
2008, this time opening a large 25 metres by 20 metres trench over the front range of the probable warehouse. We returned this summer with a team of undergraduates from our universities for the first of two six-week seasons to find out whether or not the building was a store of some kind and, for this year in particular, to understand what happened in this part of Caerleon in the many centuries since the Second Augustan Legion moved on. This was the first-ever research excavation undertaken within the fortress, and the results clearly show the value of opening large trenches in Caerleon.
Finding late and postRoman Caerleon Although the location of the trench opened up in June 2008 was determined by the layout of Roman military buildings, what we found this season does indeed relate to later times. The ending and aftermath of the legionary occupation at Caerleon has always been something of a mystery. Excavators of the pre- and immediately post-War periods typically found limited evidence of habitation even in the 4th century, and Medieval remains have also been scanty. Evidence of demolition of buildings like the headquarters building (principia) and fortress baths in the years around AD 300 has encouraged the idea that the Second Augustan Legion packed up and left Isca at that time. The 4th century is a period when many of the earlier imperial legions were broken down into smaller units, and the late Roman fort at Cardiff or the Saxon Shore fort at Richborough (where a legio II Augusta is recorded in the 5th century Notitia Dignitatum) would be plausible homes for detachments like this. However, while 4th century material from Caerleon is limited, it is not altogether absent. The swimming pool in the courtyard of the baths was used for extensive rubbish-dumping by somebody, and a few of the barracks were still inhabited. The settlement outside the walls on the eastern side was still going well into the 4th century, as a long series of rescue excavations conducted by Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust in the later 1980s revealed. All of this has supported a dissenting view that at least a detachment of the legion may have remained for a time after AD 300. Whether soldiers or not, though, it is clear that people were living in and around Isca archaeologycurrent