Institute of Archaeology


Caerleon Roman Fortress

Excavations in Priory Field, within the walls of the legionary fortress at Caerleon, have been undertaken in 2007, 2008 and 2010, under the joint direction of Andrew Gardner (UCL) and Peter Guest (Cardiff). The dig team has been mainly comprised of students from UCL and Cardiff University, along with local volunteers and students from other institutions.

The project is an investigation of the remains of Isca, the Second Augustan Legion's permanent fortress in Britain. Following on from trial excavations in 2007, in 2008 and 2010 the team have been excavating the remains of a monumental courtyard building, probably Isca's main warehouse where the supplies and provisions needed by soldiers in the fortress were stored.

Results of the 2008 season primarily related to later Roman occupation on the site. This is a little-understood phase in Caerleon's history but the discovery of buildings and extensive material culture of the 4th century will add significantly to knowledge of the period. In 2010, the Roman store-building was thoroughly examined, yielding extensive finds of Roman military equipment, including remarkably well-preserved armour.

A further element of the 2010 season was the excavation of two test-pits in the area of a large monumental complex outside the fortress walls, newly discovered by Cardiff University students undertaking geophysics training in 2010. This revealed harbour facilities and may be crucial in planning future conservation and research at Caerleon.

The project has been extensively publicised, on the web (via a blog) and local and national print and broadcast media. Public visits to the site were facilitated throughout the excavations.

The project was recently shortlisted for a British Archaeological Award. Read more»

Related outputs

Selected publications

  • Gardner, A. and Guest, P. (2010). Exploring Roman Caerleon: new excavations at the legionary fortress of Isca. Archaeology International, 12, 47-51.
  • Gardner, A. and Guest, P. (2009). Fortress Isca. Current Archaeology, 226, 31-37.
  • Unpublished annual interim reports. Full site report to follow.

Public engagement data/outputs

  • 3090 visitors 2008; 3887 visitors 2010. Comments from visitors are recorded in a Visitors' Book.
  • 13,103 hits on blog website 2008; 24,188 hits 2010.
  • Media coverage on television (BBC Wales, ITV), radio (BBC Radio 4), and in newspapers (local and national).
  • Various public lectures, e.g. in Caerleon, Cardiff, London, Liverpool, Welwyn.