Villas and houses

The Romans established their regional capital at Caerwent (© Crown: RCAHMW)

The presence of the second Augustan legion at Caerleon would have been a major influence on the old Silurian communities and there appears to have been an acceptance of Roman rule and lifestyle. Many villas were built reflecting the wealth accumulated by a class of landowners who had thrown in their lot with Rome. Some might have been able to retain their ancestral homes and develop them in the Roman style, as at Whitton in the Vale of Glamorgan. Others, such as at Ely, Cardiff, may have been statements of power and control overlooked by the old Iron Age symbols of power, the hillforts such as Caerau, which had been largely abandoned by the majority of the population by this time.

A villa estate was a world away from the constructions of pre-Roman times – with masonry buildings, imposing architectural facades, tile or stone roofs, a bath house, a hypocaust heating system, mosaics and wall paintings. Yet many native people continued to live in roundhouses concentrated into small farmsteads, sometimes, such as at Biglis near Barry, in the same locations as their Iron Age predecessors.

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