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ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF THEEXTRAMURAL MONUMENTAL COMPLEX(‘THE SOUTHERN CANABAE’)AT CAERLEON, 2011Cardiff Studies in Archaeology Specialist Report 33 The authors 2012P. Guest, M.Luke and C.Pudney,ISBN 978-0-9568398-2-4Published by the Department of Archaeology & ConservationSchool of History Archaeology and ReligionCardiff University,Humanities Building,Colum Drive,Cardiff,CF10 3EUTel: 44 (0)29 208 74470Fax: 44 (0)29 208 74929Email: rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproducedin any form or by any means without permission of the authors.Designed by Cardiff Archaeological Illustration and DesignSoftware: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium

ContentsIntroduction1Background3Project Aims & Objectives9Methodology11Results of the excavations13Trench 115Trench 225Trench 329Trench 433Trench 539Trench 651Trench 757Trench 861Trench 967Artefact & Environmental Assemblages73Pottery - preliminary observations79Discussion and interpretation87Bibliography95Appendix 1 - Trench Matrices97Appendix 2 - Community Engagement107Appendix 3 - Project Team113

IntroductionExcavations were undertaken across the area of the newlydiscovered complex of monumental buildings to thesouthwest of the legionary fortress of Isca at Caerleonbetween the 4th of August and the 1st of September 2011.This work was intended to evaluate the nature of thearchaeological remains in this part of Caerleon and toprovide important new information on the history androle of Isca in the Roman period, which, as one of onlythree permanent legionary fortresses in Britain, is a site ofsignificant international importance. Greater knowledgeof the extramural complex of monumental buildingswill lead to a better appreciation of Caerleon’s part inthe conquest, pacification and acculturation of Britain,and improve understanding of the River Usk’s role inconnecting the fortress with the network of auxiliaryforts in southern Wales, as well as other parts of RomanBritain and the Empire. The project was directed by DrPeter Guest of Cardiff University and Mike Luke ofAlbion Archaeology, and the core project team consistedof 13 staff and 23 student archaeologists from CardiffUniversity.From the outset the Caerleon excavations have linkedinternationally significant research with undergraduatetraining and a broad mission to engage with the public.The engagement strategy this year was to continue toraise the public’s awareness of, and participation in,archaeological fieldwork and the remains of RomanBritain. The excavation also provided an excellentopportunity to involve 23 undergraduate students andnumerous young volunteers in knowledge transfer andcommunity engagement activities that will provide themwith significant employability skills.The fields containing the Southern Canabae complexare privately owned and we are grateful to Mr MichaelHaines of Broadway Farm for permission to carry outthe excavations. The area is also a Scheduled AncientFig. 1. Aerial photograph of the 2011 Caerleon Southern Canabae trenches, the River Usk and the legionary amphitheatre1

Introductionwhile Adrienne Powell completed the assessment ofthe animal bone assemblage. We are pleased to includesummaries of their reports in this interim, which beginsthe process of integrating the stratigraphic narrative andthe related finds evidence. A summary of the communityengagement activities devised for the 2011 season is alsoprovided here (a full report is available from the authors).Professor Bill Manning kindly commented on a draftand we are very grateful to him for helping to removethe inconsistencies and glitches in the text. We wouldalso like to thank Tim Young for providing images of thegeophysical survey results as well as his interpretations.Ian Dennis of Cardiff University prepared this report forpublication with his usual skill and patience.Monument and Scheduled Monument Consent wasgranted by Cadw. Funding for the excavations wasprovided by Cardiff University, the Roman ResearchTrust, the Haverfield Bequest (University of Oxford),Time Team, Newport City Council, and the CaerleonTourist Forum. Cadw provided funding for the initialpost-excavation archiving work and preparation of thisinterim report and we are grateful to Jonathan Berryand his colleagues at Cadw for their continued support.Finally, we would like to thank the staff at the NationalRoman Legion Museum (National Museum Wales) fortheir encouragement and assistance.This report summarises the results of the evaluationand includes the stratigraphic sequences recorded ineach of the nine trenches, an overview of the findsassemblages, and a discussion of the excavation’ssignificance for understanding the legionary fortress atCaerleon. Mark Lewis and Peter Webster undertook thepreliminary analysis of the pottery from the excavations,Fig. 2. Almost the complete Caerleon Southern Canabae 2011 excavation team, 31st August.2

BackgroundThe site of Roman Isca, which lies beneath the town ofCaerleon near Newport in South Wales, is one of the bestknown legionary fortresses from the Empire - a result ofthe intensive accumulation of knowledge obtained overa century-and-a-half of antiquarian and archaeologicalexploration at Caerleon which enables the fortress’layout and history to be described in some detail. Thesignificance of the site has been understood for centuriesand Isca’s ruins were conspicuous enough in the medievallandscape of South Wales to merit comment in the workof chroniclers such as Gerald of Wales and Geoffrey ofMonmouth in the twelfth century.The first antiquarian work was undertaken by JohnEdward Lee in the 1840s, though the framework ofunderstanding of the fortress really only really beganto be established during the course of several importantexcavations carried out by the National Museum ofWales from the 1920s to the 1980s (Boon 1972; Boon1987; Jones 2001; Knight 2001: 48). These revealedmany of the buildings inside and around the fortress,including the amphitheatre, various barrack blocks (ofwhich the most important are those in Prysg Field), theheadquarters building, a possible hospital, the 11Fig. 3. Location of Caerleon, South Wales (maps reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf ofHMSO. Crown Copyright. All rights reserved.)3

Backgroundmodern city of Newport. Isca was founded in c. A.D.74 or 75 probably by Legio Secunda Augusta during,or perhaps in advance of, the final campaigns of thegovernor of Britannia Julius Frontinus against the Siluresand other native tribes of this western part of Britain. TheUsk allowed the legion to be supplied by sea and also toprovision the auxiliary units based in the upstream fortsat Abergavenny and Brecon, while the road that crossedthe Usk at Caerleon led to the major Roman settlementsat Gloucester and Wroxeter in the east (both of which hadbeen earlier legionary bases), and westwards towards thefort at Cardiff and beyond to Carmarthen.baths, a tribune’s house, various supposed workshops,and a quay on the right bank of the Usk. From the 1980snumerous watching-briefs, evaluations and large-scaleexcavations have been undertaken by the GlamorganGwent Archaeological Trust and other commercial unitsat Caerleon, of which the most significant were those onthe Roman Gates site (Evans and Metcalf 1992) and theextramural settlement to the east of the fortress on MillStreet (Evans 2000). The insightful accounts publishedby George Boon summarised the state of knowledge inthe 1970s and 1980s (Boon 1972; Boon 1987), whileup-to-date summaries and discussions of specific themesrelating to Caerleon have appeared more recently (Brewer2002; Manning 2004; Evans 2010).Initially many of the buildings within the fortresswould have been built in timber, though the techniquesemployed by excavators in Caerleon during much of thetwentieth century means that any evidence for timberstructures would not have been recognised in their narrowtrenches. The amphitheatre was first constructed in about90 by which time the decision had probably been takento make Isca the Second Augustan Legion’s permanentbase in Britain, and most buildings appear to have beenIsca lies on a spur of gently rising ground between themeandering River Usk and its floodplain to the east andsouth, the Afon Lwyd stream to the north, and Lodge Hillto the northwest (Fig. 3). Oriented almost exactly southeast to north-west, the fortress covers 20.3 hectares (some50 acres) on the right bank of the Usk at the river’s lowestbridging point before it enters the Severn Estuary at theFortress NorthCompass NorthFig. 4. Plan of the legionary fortress of Isca at Caerleon as known in 20024

Backgroundcentury, notably from the southern and eastern parts.The identity of these late-Roman inhabitants has beena matter of considerable debate with some suggesting areduced military garrison, while others have imaginedcivilians living in abandoned barracks and other militarybuildings until the end of the Roman period when, likemost places in Britain, the archaeological evidence foroccupation disappears (Gardner 2007).rebuilt in stone between the late first and early secondcenturies. Soon afterwards the legion was redeployedto northern Britain where it assisted in the constructionof first Hadrian’s Wall and, subsequently, the AntonineWall. For the succeeding decades of the second century itis likely that the legion would have left only a small forceat Caerleon while the majority of its men were occupiedwith the various demolitions and renovations of the Wallsthat took place up to c. 160 before it was finally decidedthat Hadrian’s Wall was to be the northern frontier of theRoman Empire. Epigraphic evidence points to severalrebuilding events in Caerleon during the third century unsurprising given the age of the original buildings andthe extended period of semi-abandonment during thesecond century.In 2003 Cadw grant-aided the Glamorgan-GwentArchaeological Trust to produce a research framework forCaerleon (Evans 2004). This document set out how muchwas known about fortress, but also highlighted the areaswhere knowledge was lacking and suggested measuresthat could be taken to provide valuable information to fillin those gaps. The research framework emphasised theplan of the canabae and the development of the River Uskas research priorities, and also highlighted the potentialof modern excavations to produce important informationrelating to the society and culture of the inhabitantsof Caerleon and its environs (particularly finds andenvironmental evidence). This initiative set in motion aIt is thought that the military occupation at Isca ended c.300 when the legion was redeployed, possibly to a newfort at Cardiff before appearing as the garrison of theSaxon Shore fort at Richborough in the early fifth-centuryNotitia Dignitatum. The fortress, however, has producedevidence for occupation during much of the fourthFortress NorthCompass NorthFig. 5. Updated plan of Isca after geophysical surveys from 2006 to 2008 (newly-discovered buildings shown in red)5

Backgroundnumber of research projects at Caerleon, including theprogramme of geophysical surveys of all the remainingareas of open ground within the fortress undertaken byGeoArch and Cardiff University between 2006 and 2008(Fig. 5. See also Guest and Young 2007; Guest and Young2010), and the major excavations by Cardiff Universityand UCL of a legionary store-building in Priory Field in2008 and 2010 (Guest and Gardner 2008; Gardner andGuest 2010).area, as well as a more extensive series of anomalies onthe eastern side of the courtyard aligned on a differentorientation to the surrounding building or the fortress.The magnetic gradiometer recorded the strongest readingsfrom this building along the incomplete southern rangeclosest to the right bank of the Usk. The eastern range ofthe building appears to be wider than the western side andseems to have been subdivided longitudinally into fouror perhaps five parallel, though narrow, rows of rooms.The northern range furthest from the river is apparentlyas wide as the eastern side, but the internal area hereseems to be divided into large rectangular spaces withtheir narrow sides facing the courtyard and ambulatory(although there are also indications of smaller rooms too).In 2008 a gradiometer survey was undertaken of openfields around the amphitheatre to the southwest of thefortress. These continued until 2011 and ultimatelyrevealed a previously unknown complex of large publicstyle buildings extending over an area of about 5 hectaresoutside the fortress (Figs 6 and 7). Previous work in the1950s hinted at the presence of large Roman buildingsin this part of Caerleon, including a bath-house anda building with a monumental entranceway, yet thescale and nature of the newly-discovered suburb wasnevertheless surprising. Elsewhere on this side of thefortress, civilian occupation seems to be confined to fairlyrural-looking structures along either side of the main roadleading out of Isca’s west gate (Chapman 2011, 324-26;Young 2012).Zone 2) The large courtyard building lies on thefloodplain of the Usk and the land to the north rises up tothe low promontory on which the amphitheatre and thefortress are sited. The second area of buildings located onthe gradiometer survey lies on the upper part of this slopeand the top of the higher ground, apparently connectedto the back of the main courtyard building. The highergeophysical readings in this area suggest a complicatedpicture of walls criss-crossing this part of the complex.There are also several very high anomalies in this fieldthat might be related to recent agricultural activity suchas the digging of pits and post-holes, or possibly theexcavation of the amphitheatre in the 1920s (particularlythe dumping of spoil). At this stage it is difficult to discernthe layout of discrete buildings or internal walls, althoughthese certainly followed the same alignment as the rest ofthe complex.The monumental complex that comprises the SouthernCanabae includes one of the largest buildings known fromRoman Britain fronting onto the Usk (the courtyard aloneenclosed an area into which Caerleon’s amphitheatrewould have fitted with room to spare). Other buildingsextending northwards from the river included furthercourtyards and possible basilica-like buildings. Thewhole complex appears to have been built as a singleentity and was orientated approximately west-northwestto east-southeast and, therefore, on a different alignmentto the fortress itself. This part of Caerleon has long beenunder rough pasture and the evidence for relativelyrecent activity is limited to a few discrete areas of metaldumping, lines of old fences and relict field boundaries.The detailed examination and interpretation of thesegeophysical surveys is available elsewhere (Chapman2011, 324-26; Young 2012), but in light of the 2011excavations the Southern Canabae complex is describedhere as consisting of at least three major buildings orgroups of buildings:Zone 3) Immediately north of this indistinct middleground lies a northern zone of two courtyards andassociated buildings aligned on the same orientation. Thefirst courtyard measures 45-50m square and is apparentlyenclosed on three sides by a narrow corridor, possibly anambulatory, while the eastern side is bounded by whatseems to be a major aisled building. This building, orperhaps another adjoining building, continues eastwardstowards the amphitheatre and the bath-building revealedby the Wheelers in the 1920s (Bath A) , though today itis obscured by farm-buildings (Evans 2000, 492-5). Onthe opposite western side of the courtyard, and apparentlybuilt up against the western ambulatory, is a row of six orseven large rectangular rooms whose narrow ends facetowards the courtyard and the Usk floodplain.Zone 1) The southernmost building closest to the Uskis also the largest. Measuring 140m from east to westand at least 120m from north to south, it consists of alarge square courtyard covering an area of approximately1 hectare, possibly provided with a covered portico orambulatory, and surrounded by ranges on all four sides.The courtyard itself contains two features that are likelyto be buildings or structures of some kind. Both show aspositive white anomalies (in contrast to the ranges whosewalls produce negative readings), and include a smallsquare structure on the main north-south axis of the openAlthough the second courtyard is imaged less clearly onthe magnetometer results, it is possible to make out themain features of the structures that occupied this mostnortherly part of the complex. It seems to consist of anirregular square or rectangular open space bounded on itssouthern side by the courtyard just described, its westernand northern sides by walls, or possibly roads, and onits eastern side by another long north-south building that6

BackgroundFortress NorthCompass NorthFig. 6. Combined results of the gradiometer surveys to the south of Caerleon 2008-11 ( GeoArch)Fortress NorthZone 3Compass NorthZone 2Zone 1Fig. 7. Interpretation of the geophysical results 2008-11, showing the Southern Canabae complex ( GeoArch)7

Backgroundappears to be subdivided into internal rooms. There areclearly buildings continuing from this point eastwardstowards the amphitheatre though they also lie beneathmodern farm-buildings. During excavation in advance ofthe construction of these agricultural buildings, however,Nash-Williams revealed a large courtyard structurewith hypocausted rooms and a monumental porticoedentranceway (Building D) that is almost certainly acontinuation of this northernmost series of buildingsidentified during the geophysical surveys (Evans 2000,492-6).Large extramural courtyard buildings similar to theZone 1 example at Caerleon described above have beenidentified at the legionary fortresses at Carnuntum,Nijmegen, Mirebeau and Vindonissa on the continent(though only at Nijmegen in the Netherlands has one beenexcavated), yet Isca seems to be unusual in not otherwisehaving developed a significant civilian settlement outsideits walls (Goguey and Reddé 1995; Hartmann 1986;Willems and van Enckevort 2009). The immediatequestions posed by the results of the geophysical surveysconcerned the dating and function of the complex ofmonumental buildings. Was it associated with the militaryoccupation of the site, or was the intention for Caerleonto become a centre of civilian administration for westernBritain like York in the North? The alignment of thecomplex suggests either that it is earlier than the fortress,or contemporary but somehow separate (possibly not‘military’).Two small trial trenches excavated in 2010 over thesouthern range of the very large courtyard buildingclosest to the Usk (Zone 1), revealed a wall constructedfrom deliberately broken and relaid tegulae (roof tiles),which was thought to be part of Roman Caerleon’s mainquay on the Usk. Material dumped outwards from thiswall was interpreted as the remains of landing stages orjetties projecting out into the river to allow larger shipsto dock at Caerleon. The 2010 trial trenches suggestedthat the Roman remains survive very well in this part ofCaerleon’s outskirts, and there was little evidence forextensive medieval and modern disturbance (Gardnerand Guest 2010).Fig. 8.Test pits 1 and 2 excavated in 2010 close to the right bank of the river Usk8

Project Aims & Objecti

Designed by Cardiff Archaeological Illustration and Design Software: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Premium ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF THE EXTRAMURAL MONUMENTAL COMPLEX (‘THE SOUTHERN CANABAE’) AT CAERLEON, 2011. Contents Introduction 1 Background 3 Project Aims & Objectives 9 Methodology 11 Results of the excavations 13 Trench 1 15 Trench 2 25 Trench 3 29 Trench 4 33 Trench 5 39 Trench 6 .

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