Step back into the past with a trip to Caerleon and journey back to the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. This is the location of Isca an ancient fortress from the Roman occupation. The fortress is believed to have also been the location (one of the many disputed locations) of the court of King Arthur. The Isca fortress was constructed in around 74AD and was the base for the Second Augustan Legion. This location was picked for its strategic capabilities, it is alongside the Usk River, surrounded by hills which offered shelter and where it stands across from the river, the water is wide although navigable.
The name Isca is a Roman derivative for Usk, the name of the river along which it lies. It is a fascinating place to visit as so much history is located in the one place, as well as an air of mystery and legend. The town of Caerleon makes a wonderful place to visit, and also makes a great base for people wanting to tour the area as it is located only three miles from the town of Newport.
Exploring the Area
The town of Caerleon has had a checkered past, it was sacked and pillaged several times over the centuries by Danes, the Vikings, the Saxons and the forces of the Welsh. As such the town has a few battle scars. However, after the Romans withdrew from the area the importance of the place changed – rather than it being the site of an impressive Roman fortress it became the home of the Welsh Princes.
It became popular as a trading town and a centre for industry, right until the latter half of the nineteenth century. There are parts of the town that are preserved and it has bucket loads of personality and charm to offer its visitors. This is a perfectly formed historic town with plenty of quaint tea rooms and old fashioned pubs. Spend an afternoon in the sculpture garden and take your time wandering around the arts and crafts centre and art gallery.
At its height Caerleon was one of the most significant military sites in the whole of Great Britain during the time of the Roman occupation. There were six thousand soldiers as well as horsemen stationed here. This wasn’t just a fortress, there were also temples, shops, baths and an amphitheatre. What was one the Roman Baths is now the Roman Legionary Museum which has a number of exhibitions and installations illustrating what daily life was like in the garrison.
The kids will have fun here too as there are plenty of hands on activities for them to enjoy. The barracks block is the only one that is still visible in the whole of Europe, and these along with the amphitheatre are open to the public, for free right through the year.
The town of Caerleon features prominently in the tales of Uther Pendragon (King Arthur) who it is claimed, saw the ruins of the fortress and claimed it as his own. There is evidence found in a number of texts that seem to support this theory.