National Roman Legion Museum

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National Roman Legion Museum
Amgueddfa'r Lleng Rhufeinig.JPG
Newport UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Museum location in Newport, Wales
Location Caerleon, Newport, Wales
Coordinates 51°36′36″N2°57′19″W / 51.61005°N 2.95529°W / 51.61005; -2.95529 Coordinates: 51°36′36″N2°57′19″W / 51.61005°N 2.95529°W / 51.61005; -2.95529
TypeArchaeological museum
Website National Roman Legion Museum

The National Roman Legion Museum (Welsh : Amgueddfa Lleng Rufeinig Cymru) is a museum in Caerleon, near Newport, south-east Wales. It is one of three Roman sites in Caerleon, along with the Baths museum and the open-air ruins of the amphitheatre and barracks. It is part of the wider network of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

Welsh language Brythonic language spoken natively in Wales

Welsh or y Gymraeg is a member of the Brittonic branch of the Celtic languages. It is spoken natively in Wales, by some in England, and in Y Wladfa. Historically, it has also been known in English as "Cambrian", "Cambric" and "Cymric".

Caerleon village and community in Wales

Caerleon is a suburban town and community, situated on the River Usk in the northern outskirts of the city of Newport, Wales. Caerleon is a site of archaeological importance, being the location of a notable Roman legionary fortress, Isca Augusta, and an Iron Age hillfort. The Wales National Roman Legion Museum and Roman Baths Museum are in Caerleon close to the remains of Isca Augusta. The town also has strong historical and literary associations, as Geoffrey of Monmouth elevated the significance of Caerleon as a major centre of British history in his Historia Regum Britanniæ, and Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote Idylls of the King while staying there.

Newport, Wales City and County in Wales

Newport is a city and unitary authority area in south east Wales, on the River Usk close to its confluence with the Severn Estuary, 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Cardiff. At the 2011 census, it was the third largest city in Wales, with a population of 145,700. The city forms part of the Cardiff-Newport metropolitan area, with a population of 1,097,000.



Roman Wales was the farthest point west that the Roman Empire in Roman Britain extended to, and as a defence point the fortress at Isca Augusta, now Caerleon, built in 75 AD, was one of only three permanent Roman Legionary fortresses in Roman Britain. It was occupied and operational for just over 200 years.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from the city of Rome. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Senate of Rome sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Roman Britain part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire

Roman Britain was the area of the island of Great Britain that was governed by the Roman Empire, from 43 to 410 AD. It comprised almost the whole of England and Wales and, for a short period, southern Scotland.

Isca Augusta architectural structure

Isca, variously specified as Isca Augusta or Isca Silurum, was the site of a Roman legionary fortress and settlement or vicus, the remains of which lie beneath parts of the present-day suburban village of Caerleon in the north of the city of Newport in South Wales. The site includes Caerleon Amphitheatre and is protected by Cadw.

The National Roman Legion Museum lies inside what remains of the fortress, and contains many artefacts from the period of Isca Augusta of Legio II Augusta from Roman currency to uniforms.

Artifact (archaeology) Something made by humans and of archaeological interest

An artifact, or artefact, is something made or given shape by humans, such as a tool or a work of art, especially an object of archaeological interest.

Legio II Augusta Roman legion

Legio secunda Augusta was a legion of the Imperial Roman army that was founded during the late Roman republic. Its emblems were the Capricornus, Pegasus, Mars.

Roman currency

Roman currency for most of Roman history consisted of gold, silver, bronze, orichalcum and copper coinage. From its introduction to the Republic, during the third century BC, well into Imperial times, Roman currency saw many changes in form, denomination, and composition. A persistent feature was the inflationary debasement and replacement of coins over the centuries. Notable examples of this followed the reforms of Diocletian. This trend continued into Byzantine times.

A short walk from the National Roman Legion Museum is the remains of Isca Augusta:

Amphitheatre open-air venue used for entertainment and performances

An amphitheatre or amphitheater is an open-air venue used for entertainment, performances, and sports. The term derives from the ancient Greek ἀμφιθέατρον (amphitheatron), from ἀμφί (amphi), meaning "on both sides" or "around" and θέατρον (théātron), meaning "place for viewing".

Barracks accommodation for soldiers

A barracks is a building or group of buildings built to house soldiers. The English word comes via French from an old Catalan word "barraca" (hut), originally referring to temporary shelters or huts for various people and animals, but today barracks are usually permanent buildings for military accommodation. The word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes, and the plural form often refers to a single structure and may be singular in construction.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.


The original museum Antiquarian Museum, Caerleon.jpeg
The original museum

The museum is located in the centre of Roman Isca, on what was the via principalis leading to the amphitheatre. [1]

The first museum building was the Antiquarian Museum of 1850. This was built to a design by H.F Lockwood of Hull, a simple box-shaped building of Bath stone. Its only architectural feature of note was the pillared portico in the Greek Doric style. Little is known of the original building but it is known to have re-used ship's timbers in its roof and stone details from the Old Market House of Caerleon which had been demolished shortly before. [2] It is often claimed that the timbers are from HMS Collingwood, although this ship was in service at the time and had no obvious connection to Newport.

Henry Francis Lockwood was an influential English architect active in the North of England.

Kingston upon Hull City and unitary authority in England

Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, is a port city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It lies upon the River Hull at its confluence with the Humber Estuary, 25 miles (40 km) inland from the North Sea, with a population of 260,700 (mid-2017 est.). Hull lies east of Leeds, east southeast of York and northeast of Sheffield.

Bath stone An oolitic limestone from Somerset used as a building material

Bath Stone is an oolitic limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate. Originally obtained from the Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines under Combe Down, Somerset, England, its warm, honey colouring gives the World Heritage City of Bath, England, its distinctive appearance. An important feature of Bath Stone is that it is a 'freestone', so-called because it can be sawn or 'squared up' in any direction, unlike other rocks such as slate, which forms distinct layers.

The museum building was Grade II listed in 1951, but was largely demolished during the 1987 rebuilding and enlargement of the museum. [3] Only the portico now remains. The new building is in a modernist style, but equally featureless and windowless as the original.

As of February 2019, the site is being redeveloped and is closed to the public until autumn 2019. It will continue to offer facilities for local schools.

Legionary museum model.JPG

See also

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  1. Caerleon Roman Fortress (3rd ed.). Cadw. 2003. p. 19. ISBN   1-85760-159-9.
  2. "Caerleon Roman Legionary Museum, Roman Lodge, Caerleon". Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales . NPRN 31953.
  3. "Ashlar Doric portico at The Roman Legionary Museum, Caerleon". British Listed Buildings.