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Roman Ruins National Roman Legion Museum


Caerleon was one of only three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain, known as Isca to the Romans.

The fortress itself was a playing-card shape, covering 50 acres of land in which the Museum now lies.

Just a few minutes walk from the galleries takes you to the most complete Amphitheatre in Britain, beautifully presented Fortress Baths, and the only remains of a Roman Legionary Barracks on view anywhere in Europe.

Constructing barracks to house over 5000 meant systematic and detailed planning was essential. The barrack blocks are long, narrow L-shaped buildings. Twelve pairs of rooms can be seen at Caerleon, fronted by a verandah, with a larger suite at the end to house the Centurion.

The fortress baths were an especially ambitious undertaking with novel architecture and massive vaults. Located under a modern cover, you can view reconstructions, a detailed model of the building and hear spoken commentaries.

The eye-catching excavations include an open-air swimming pool (natatio) and cold bath suite (frigidarium), which represent only a portion of the vast original structure.


The building of the amphitheatre started in AD 90 outside the fortress walls, and it remains an impressive sight today.

A timber grandstand would have seated some 6,000 and, standing in its centre, you can imagine the sights and sounds and the baying crowds. It could have been used for various games, military and religious festivals, or as a training or parade ground.

The amphitheatre is the centrepiece of the Museum’s annual summer re-enactment, the Military Spectacular.

The Caerleon Roman Fortress remains are jointly managed by National Museum Wales and CADW who carry out the statutory responsibilities of the National Assembly for Wales for protecting, conserving and promoting ancient monuments and historic buildings in Wales.