Forts and towns

The barrack blocks at Caerleon legionary fortress (© Crown: RCAHMW)

Once the area was pacified the Roman troops were billeted in forts of various sizes, such as at Cardiff, from which they could patrol and collect taxes. The headquarters of the legion responsible for maintaining the ‘Roman Peace’ (Pax Romana) was Caerleon. This fortress controlled the land in its vicinity, and it is even thought that the second Augustan legion drained the Gwent levels to supply pasture for horses. Inevitably, military bases attracted settlements of merchants, craftsmen, entertainers, and also the troops’ unofficial spouses. Such settlements were called canabae outside legionary fortresses or vici outside auxiliary forts. In southeast Wales, one settlement developed into an urban centre (town) of the Silures Venta Silurum (Caerwent). Caerwent had many of the features of Roman cities, such as a forum, temples and well-appointed houses.

Back to Iron Age and Roman Wales