Wales

EngliscHeritage

Wales

 

CAERWENT, AND OTHER SITES IN SOUTH WALES

 

It may be remembered that soon after the Roman General, Aulus Plautius, had taken possession of Britain for the Emperor Claudius in 43 A. D., he was recalled and was replaced by Ostorius Scapula, under whose leadership the subjugation of Wales was begun; but it was not until the reign of Vespasian that the conquest of South Wales was completed. The army which carried out the operations in this area was composed of the Second Legion, “Augusta,” and its auxiliaries. This legion is to be distinguished from the Second Legion, “Adjutrix,” which was stationed for some time at Chester, it having been sent to Britain to replace the Fourteenth Legion, which was withdrawn soon after its victory over Queen Boadicea. The Second Legion, “Adjutrix,” was itself withdrawn and sent to Pannonia in 81 A. D., but the Second Legion “Augusta,” which was recruited on the Rhine and had come to Britain from Palmyra in the desert behind Damascus, was now based on Gloucester, and the conquest of South Wales thus fell to its lot.

 

If you go into the little church in the middle of Caerwent, you will find in the porch a large inscribed stone, found under the village green just across the way. The inscription reads:- “Pursuant to a decree of the Corporation Council, the Canton of the Silures set this up in honour of Tiberius Claudius Paulinus, Commander of the Second Legion, “Augusta,” formerly Senatorial Governor of Gallia Narbonensis (Narbonne), and Imperial Governor of Gallia Lugudunensi (Lyons).” This Paulinus is known from other sources to have lived in the reign of the Emperor Elegabalus, about 220 A. D. His residence may have been either here at Caerwent or at his legion`s headquarters at Caerleon, a few miles/km away, and there is no reason to suppose that he found his surroundings any less pleasant or less civilised than those he had enjoyed in France. Next to this stone there is an altar dedicated by a military officer of Mars-Ocelus, the latter being a north British deity dentified by the Romans with their war-god. Behind the lectern in the church there is part of a mosaic floor found in the village, and in the vestry are coins and small objects.

 

A pathway passes across the quiet churchyard to a stone stils, beyond which there is a tree-shaded lane leading down the hill to the south wall of the Roman city, which is over 1,500 feet/457.2m in length, and is still standing in part to a great height. Here the ruined south gate can be seen, though, when I was there recently it looked like a garden rockery – poppies and other flowers and weeds growing from amidst the tumbled stones; but the wall is now being repaired by the Office of Works, and soon both it and its gateway will be more obviously relics of the Roman age. The other three sides of the city`s enclosure of 40 acres/16.1ha are not well preserved, but elsewhere in the village, in orchards, meadows and gardens, there are various traces of the ruins to be seen.

 

Two-thirds of this whole area was excavated several years ago, wherever open ground permitted it, and the general plan of the place which was then able to be made showed that the broad streets, laid out in the gridiron manner, divided the buildings into four rows, each of five blocks or “islands,” the Forum being in the middle,near the present village green, and consisting of an open square enclosed on three sides by first-rate shops, while on the fourth side was the Basilica, a splendid building ornamented with Corinthian columns.

Just outside the east gate, on your right as you come from Chepstow, a circular temple was found, like that at Silchester, and there was another temple alongside the Forum. The great amphitheatre was inside the walls, near the north gate and the public baths were also on this side of the area. Many houses, all heated by hot air, were excavated, and in one there was a hoard of 7,000 coins, dating as late as the reign of the Emperor Honorius, at the beginning of the Fifth Century, and probably hidden there by some unhappy man, forced at last to leave the fast declining city in the troubled days after the legions had been withdrawn.

 

Most of the objects discovered in these excavations are now to be seen in the museum at Newport, a nicely arranged little collection, well worth a visit. Here there are cases of pottery, glass, bracelets, keys, locks, spears, iron spurs, a boat-hook, a trowel, a ladle, a candlestick, a pair of surgical forceps, shackles, some discs which seem to have served as theatre tickets, iron bands used as couplings for drain-pipes, querns, mosaics, and much else. There is also the pedestal of a statue of Mars-Lenus (Lenus being a German form of the war-god), erected by a man called Marcus Nenius Romanus, as a record of his being exempted from paying fees to his college or guild, and dated August 23rd, 152 A. D.

Unfortunately, the purchase money being unprocurable, it was necessary to fill in the areas excavated, since the ground was of value to the local farmers and residents, and the works had pushed in amongst houses and gardens and across orchards and fields; and thus there is nothing much to be seen now, except the south wall of the city. All the well-preserved ruins of Venta Silurum – the paved streets you now might tread, the mansions you might enter, the shops you might look at, the Forum you might visit, the public buildings you might inspect, lie buried underground; and only in the imagination can the place be reconstructed as it was when the British citizens of the tribe of the Silures here lived their thoroughly Roman lives under the protection of the Second Legion.

 

CAERLEON, IN MONMOUTHSHIRE

 

The large and straggling village of Caerleon in Monmouthshire, two miles/3.2km north-east of the bustling city of Newport, stands amidst fields and meadows and woods in the winding valley of the Usk, screened around by low hills already dotted over with the houses which are, as it were, the scattered advance-guard of Newport`s coming invasion of this area. It is still an antique and picturesque little place, set in green and open country; but soon it will be a suburb of the city, and the surrounding fields and woodlands will have vanished for ever.

In all the British Isles I know no place which presents itself to the historic imagination in a more alluring aspect, or produces a profounder impression; yet there is not really very much to be seen, and, while excavations are now being conducted, these are still but beginning, and there are no very startling remains of ancient glory to attract the casual visitor. Rather it is its elusive secret and fragmentary history it seems to whisper the tale of its bygone splendour so low that one can hardly hear it; and yet enough of the story can be pieced together to enthral the listener, and to set him dreaming of far-off days and high events now gone beyond recall.

 

When, about 78 A. D., in the reign of the Emperor Vespasian, the famous Second Legion, `Augusta,` overcame the ressitance of the tribe of the Silures and marched into their country of South Wales, it must have been debated whether or not the army should make its headquarters at Venta Silurum, the modern Caerwent, which was the tribe`s metropolis; but it was decided that a fortress in a better strategic position ought to be constructed, and the Roman general, Julius Frontinus, at length chose a site eight miles/12.8km to the west, and some nine or ten miles/14.4 or 16km up the river Esk from its mouth, that is to say, far enough back from the estuary of the Severn to make it safe from attack by sea, and yet not too far into the hilly country to be cut off from the main highway to Caerwent and Gloucester and the great road-junction at Cirencester with its radiations all over Britain.

 

From the selected spot the Esk valley provided as easy road right up into the heart of Wales, and seawards the river was navigable all the way, so that the galleys could be brought to the very gate of the fortress, some four miles/6.4km further upstream than the modern town of Newport which today is the limit of the navigable river.

Here the Romans built their great rectangular stronghold, with walls originally of earth and later of stone, some 1,600 by 1,400 feet/487.6 by 426.7m in length, enclosing an area of about fifty acres/20.2ha, bisected by straight, broad streets at bright angles, with the headquarters in the middle, and the barracks, storerooms, workshops, temples, etc., covering most of the remaining area.

 

There were four gates, one on each side, that on the south-east side being nearest to the Usk, which was here spanned by a bridge carrying the main road to Caerwent and Gloucester; and between this gate and bridge, that is to say just outside the walls, were the great public baths overlooking the grassy slope down to the river. Outside the south-west gate they erected a splendid amphitheatre in the meadows, and from this point down the slope to the water the civilian town, such as always grew up beside a fortress, seems to have been situated.

 

The Usk is here a grey tidal river, running in the drier season between the deep banks of mud, but in the wet periods rising until it covers the meadows on either side. All around are the hills, in those days thickly wooded; and on the summit of one of them, away to the north-east, a British camp is still to be seen which was abandoned when the Romans arrived. There is some evidence and much probability that in all directions there were houses and farms dotted about the valley and the hillsides, inhabited by the Romanised Silures, and by the discharges legionaries whose custom it generally was to establish their permanent residence in the districts in which they had passed their military service.

There must have been various watch-towers and outposts round about, and the tower of the church at Tredunnock, not far away, seems to be built on Roman foundations. In this church there is the memorial of a soldier of the Second legion, who was evidently buried near the spot. It was erected by his wife, which face seems to indicate that this man lived with his family here at Tredunnock, regarding it as his home.

 

The modern village of Caerleon spreads over much of the middle and east side of the fortified enclosure, and the church stands in what must have been the courtyard in front of Headquarters. The south side to the area, however, is not much built over; and here beneath the fields many of the ancient buildings will one day, perhaps, be found. The wall on the south-west side still stands in places to a height of fifteen feet/4.5m, and though it is clad with creepers and great trees rise above it, rooted amidst the crumbling masonry, it is still an eloquent and mighty memorial of the glories that are gone.

 

In an open space beside the church, and elsewhere also, some excavations have been carried out; and in the local museum you may see a considerable collection of inscriptions and small objects which have been brought to light, while in the museum at Newport and in the British Museum there are other articles from the site. Of these, however, I will speak in the next chapter.

 

The fortress was called Isca, a name preserved in that of the river Usk, `isca` being the word for “water,” which, by the way, in its Irish form “uisge,” is the origin of our word “whiskey”; but the place came to be known more generally as Castra Legionum, “The Fortress of the Legions,” and Caerleon is a corruption of this name. It remained for a period little short of 300 years the base and the home of the Second Legion “Augusta,” and since there is actual evidence as well as the obvious inference that these soldiers from the Rhine intermarried with the native Silures, there is no doubt that the modern inhabitants of this whole neighbourhood are largely descended from them, for it is to be remembered that the legion was perhaps 10,000 strong in all and lived here for nine or ten generations or more.

 

The reader may recall that in a previous chapter I related the story of the Roman soldier, St. Alban of Verulamium (St. Albans): how he helped a persecuted Christian, St. Amphibalus, to escape into Wales, and how he was arrested and beheaded near the site of the later abbey. There is, however, an old Welsh tradition that he was executed at Caerleon and not at St. Albans; and this may have been the fact. There is a word amphiboles meaning “a cloak,” and it may be that the original story stated that Alban fled into Wales muffled in his cloak, and that there was no such person as the supposed saint of that name.

 

The old story tells us how, at the execution, the crowd on the bridge was so great that the martry was taken eight hundred paces along the river to a ford, where he crossed the water, and was beheaded another eigth hundred paces up the slope from this point. These facts certainly do not fit in very comfortably with the features of the river Ver at St. Albans, but there at Caerleon there is a ford just about eight hundred paces from the bridge, and at a spot eight hundred paces up the slope from this ford there stood an ancient shrine dedicated to St. Alban, presumably marking the place of his death.

 

Thus Caerleon may perhaps claim him, and the bones supposed to be his, which were dug up at St. Albans, and later became the miracle-working relics of the abbey-church, may have been those of some quite unsaintly personage. Caerleon, however, has two other saints, St. Julius and St. Aaron, both Romans who died fro the faith in the days of the persecution of the Christians, about 303 A. D., and therefore it may generously concede St. Alban to Hertfordshire.

 

It is not known exactly when the Second Legion was withdrawn from Wales, but it seems to have been transferred to Kent some time towards the close of the Fourth Century, and after that Caerleon began its civilian age, and in the Sixth Century became the metropolitan see of Wales, famous as a seat of Roman-British learning.

The outstanding figure in local legends is that of King Arthur, whose real name was Artorius, and who lived abot 500 A. D. He seems to have been one of the last great Romans-British leaders, by which I mean to say that he lived at the time when the Roman civilization in its Christian guise still survived in our islands, his wars being fought against the Saxons, and his life being one long struggle to keep inviolate against the heathen invaders the faith in Christ which the Romans had brought to Britain, and to maintain the Roman-British civilization which in all directions was crumbling before his eyes.

 

The amphitheatre at Caerleon is still called “Arthur`s Round Table,” and who can prove that Arthur did not here gather his nobles around him in council, to discuss the means whereby all that was left of Rome could be saved? An old record states that the King made high holiday in Caerleon on seven Easters, five Christmasses, and one Whitsun; and Geoffrey of Monmouth described the city in those days as being “most pleasant and fit for great solemnities, for on one side it was washed by the noble river Usk, so that kings and princes from the lands beyond the seas might have the convenience of sailing along its course, and on the other side the beauty of the meadows and groves and the magnificence of its palaces made it even rival Rome itself for grandeur.”

 

Gerald the Welshman, writing in the Twelfth Century, states that in his time the ruins of Caerleon still showed “palaces, the hot baths, and the remains of temples and places of the theatrical performances, enclosed by handsome walls that are still partly standing.”

 

There is a mound beside the Roman baths outside the south-east gate of the fortress, and it may be that Arthur had a palace hereabouts, or perhaps lived amidst the fading magnificence of the baths themselves; for this spot is traditionally connected with his name. The legend is that here in an underground hall he still sits sleeping over the ashes of his last banquet, surrounded by his knights, and that when Britain needs him he will arise and shake the dust from his mighty form, and come forth to serve once more his country and his Saviour. In the anxious days of 1914 he was seen, so they say at Caerleon, riding with his nobles at midnight through the woods that are named after St. Julius up on the hillside overlooking the fortress, and there were shadowy men carrying lights around him, and one in front bearing a great cross. He is supposed to have been buried at Glastonbury, the Isle of Avalon; but in legend and folk-tale his spirit lives on at Caerleon and at a score of other places throughout the length of Britain, and everywhere it stands for British ideals. But it is only of late years that historians have realised that he was a Roman – the last really great figure in the history of Roman Britain.

 

THE EXCAVATIONS AT CAERLEON

 

In the last chapter I gave a brief account of the history of Caerleon in South Wales, where the Second Legion, “Augusta,” was stationed for many generations, and I described how the great amphitheatre stood just outside the south-west gate of the fortress at the top of a meadow sloping down to the river Usk. The excavation of this amphitheatre is now in progress; and in this chapter I want to give an account of the work. But before doing so it will as well to mention some of the discoveries made in earlier excavations within the fortress itself and in the vicinity.

Some of the many inscriptions which have turned up are interesting. There is, for instance, the tombstone of a standard-bearer of the legion, named Gaius Valerius, whose family came from Lyons in France, and who died at Caerleon. There is an altar erected by Thalamus Hadrianus, prefect of the legion in the time of the Emperor Severus, who died at York. Geta was proclaimed in Britain, but was murdered a year later by his brother Caracalla, and his name was everywhere erased. In this inscription one can see how it has been hammered out; and as an instance of the world-wide dominion of the Romans, I may mention that I have seen Geta`s name written in Egyptian hieroglyphs in the temple of Kom Ombo in Upper Egypt, and deleted there in the same way. Geta himself, by the way, was a North African by birth.

 

Then there is a dedication to the goddess Fortune made by the quartermaster of the legion, and there is another to the goddess Minerva. Another inscription records the restoration of the Temple of Diana in Caerleon, and yet another records the rebuilding of the barracks of the Seventh Cohort of the legion in the time of the Emperor Valerianus and Gallienus, soon after 250 A. D.  A tombstone gives the names of a soldier and his son, the latter having been killed during a campaign in Germany in which drafts of the Second Legion served.

Some fine mosaic floors have been found; an altar and part of a statue of the god Mithras have been discovered; and various columns and architectural fragments have turned up. Some of the names in inscriptions which I have no space to mention are interesting as being British in character: Vledicca, for example, is one such, and Belicianus is another, indicating that the legionaries, themselves Rhinelanders, married native British women.

 

Coins of gold, silver, and bronze have been found, including one of the seventeen days` Emperor Quintillus, 270 A. D., and a certain amount of jewellery has been discovered, amongst these articles being a ring with an intaglio in the form of a dolphin, the emblem of the Second Legion. Cinerary urns and vessels of glass have been unearthed, as well as much pottery, and there are many tiles stamped with the name of the Second Legion. Besides these the usual mass of small objects has come to light; and I may mention the print of a child`s shoe which is to be seen impressed on one of the tiles, some now forgotten boy having trodden upon the clay before it was baked.

Such are a few of the discoveries already made, and in the last chapter I spoke of the finding of the public baths of the place, and some buildings near the headquarters in the middle of the fortress. Now I must describe the new excavations on the site of the amphitheatre. Earlier excavators had tapped the place, and had found a gladiator`s dagger lying on the floor of the arena, a statue of Diana near the main entrance, and an inscription recording the building-work carried out here by one of the units of the legion; but no systematic clearance of the site had been attempted.

 

Before the present excavations began the scars of this amphitheatre presented itself to the eye simply as a large, grass-covered cup or crater, with a bank around it, lying just outside the creeper-clad Roman wall of the fortress. A dip in this bank at either side of the circle showed where the main entrances to the arena were situated; and the present excavators, having removed the sods and earth above the entrance nearest to the gateway of the fortress, and having ascertained that the masonry was more or less intact underneath, turned their attention to the opposite entrance.

 

Here they dug deep and wide, until the massive masonry was exposed right down to the ancient ground-level, and was found to be standing to its full height on either hand, only the arched roof, which once made this entrance into a short tunnel, having fallen.

Then they dug a little way along the inside corner of the entrance, and exposed a bit of the floor-level of the arena and the wall which divided it from the tiers of seats. The seats are here gone,only the earth bank on which they rested being left, but somebody writing about 120 years (from 1925 date) ago says that “within the memory of men yet living, stone seats were discovered in the cavity of the amphitheatre,” and it is possible that some of them will ultimately be recovered. I must point out, however, that very possibly the Roman audiences seated themselves on the ground, or stood.

 

The excavators also cleared a portion of the outside wall of the amphitheatre, which the earlier work had partly exposed; and here enough is already to be seen to show that these walls, supported at short intervals by strong buttresses, are largely preserved. Measuring from the outside face of this wall across to the opposite side, they found that the whole amphitheatre was a mighty oval, 278 by 226 feet/84.7 by 68.8m across, and covering an area of some 20,000 square feet/6,096 square metres. The arena itself was seen to be much larger than was expected, being about 200 by 250 feet/60.9 by 68.8m across. The surrounding bank on which the tiers of seats rose was over thirty-five feet/10.6m wide, and about 6,000 people could have been accommodated.

 

Next, the excavators hit upon another entrance quite close to this main entrance, but it is narrower and may have been one of several gangways still to be found, by which the spectators passed in to their seats.

 

That was as far as the work had gone when I visited the place in the summer of 1925, and the operations are of necessity slow, both because the earth has to be placed in trucks and run along a lengthy line of rails to an edjacent field where it is dumped, and also because every spadeful has to be examined, and the utmost care has to be taken at this stage of the work to get the “hang” of the site, so to speak, to plan out its dimensions and levels, and to date the original buildings and the later restorations by the strata and by the stray objects found therein.

Thus at present the amphitheatre is still but a grassy-covered cup, with a big cut in the surrounding bank at one side, which has exposed the masonry, and a scar or two at other points; but ultimately the whole place wil be cleared, and then the visitor will be able to walk round the outside, looking up at the towering walls, and will be abe to enter the arena by one of the splendid entrances, and, standing where once the gladiators stood, see the tiers for the seats mounting up all round him, with perhaps the ruins of the “royal box” at one side.

It will look like a smaller version of the Coliseum at Rome, and it will be the greatest Roman show-place in the British Isles.

 

CHESTER, AND SOME SITES IN NORTH WALES

 

When the Romans conquered Britain they found North Wales inhabited by a people known as the Ordovices, a fierce race very different in character from the highly civilised Silures of South Wales. It was easy enough, I fancy, to control the south country, and Monmouthshire, at any rate, gave little trouble, as may be deduced from the apparent prosperity of Venta Silurum (Caerwent) the capital of the Silures which, I described in a previous chapter, and from the fact that though Isca (Caerleon) remained a legionary fortress throughout the Roman epoch, several of the smaller forts were dismantled as being unnecessary.

 

But in the north things were more difficult; and soon after the invasion of 43 A. D., the Romans established a great frontier stronghold on the site of the modern Chester, which they named Deva, “the city on the Dee” and where they stationed the fourteenth Legion, replacing it soon afterwards by the Second Legion 9”Adjutrix”) and the Twentieth Legion (“Valeria Victrix”) recruited on the Rhine. This Second Legion remained in Britain only a few years, but the Twentieth continued to be quartered at Deva until thebeginng of the Fifth Century, though they were often employed on special work in other parts of the country.

 

Deva was the base of the expedition of Suetonius Paulinus against the Druids of Angelsey in 61 A. D., which I have recorded in a previous article, and it was from here that he marched south to London in the terrible days of the revolt of Queen Boudicca, when the Romans were so nearly exterminated. But it was not until 78 A. D., that the great Agricola penetrated into the heart of northern Wales, and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Ordovices, somewhere amongst their wild mountain passes.

Thereafter numerous forts were built in North Wales, which are really to be regarded as outposts of the great fortress of Chester. The chief of these was Segontium, half a mile/.8km south of Carnarvon, at the mouth of the river Seiont, near the south end of the Menai Straits; but hardly anything is now to be seen there except a few fragements of the old walls. The Emperor Constantius Chlorus, who died at York, is said to have been buried here; but this seems rather improbable. Then there was Conovium or Canovium, the modern Caerhun, beside the river Conway on the beautiful valley road from the sea to Bettwsycoed; and here traces of Roman buildings have been found in the shadow of the old yew trees in the little churchyard. A Roman milestone was found near Llanfairfechan, inscribed with the name of the Emperor Hadrian (about 120 A.D.) and with the words “8 miles to Canovium” (12.8km) This was one of fifty such milestones found in Britain. At Pennal, near the mouth of the river Dovey, a few miles/kms from Machynlleth, there was a fortress of Maglona; but here again little now is to be seen. At Tomen-y-Mur is the site of a small amphitheatre which has not yet been excavated.

 

In ancient times Chester possessed a harbour at the mouth of the Dee, but this has silted up, and the broad meadows, now called the Roodee (Rood Island), where the race course is laid out, marks the site where once the Roman galleys rode at anchor. The walls of the fortress city are not now anywhere to be seen in their original form; but the mediaeval walls mark the same line and are built upon the Roman foundations, along part of the north and east sides, so that today on walking along these later ramparts, you may at any rate see the lie of the land as the Roman sentries it nearly nineteen hundred years ago. In some early rebuilding of the great walls a great many Roman tombstones from adjacent cemeteries were used, and some of these have been recovered, and are now to be seen in the Grosvenor Museum at Chester, where, with others found in the city, they form the most striking collection of Roman monuments in all England.

I have frequently emphasised in these articles the Romans` extraordinary mixture of nationalities as displayed in the inscriptions on tombstones, altars, etc., left by them in Britain. These inscriptions at Chester reveal this mixture very clearly, and it may be of interest to give a few instances.

 

Three inscription record the names of soldiers of the Second Legion (Adjutrix) from Aprus, a town in Thrace; another is to the memory of a soldier of that legion from Celea in Noricum; another records a soldier from Savaria in Pannonia; another names a soldier from Aequum in Dalmatia; and there is an altar dedicated “to the gods that are strong to save” by a Greek doctor named Hermogenes.

 

There is a tombstone to the memory of a prefect of the camp of the Twentieth Legion, who was born in Syria; another is to a veteran of that legion from Arles in Southern France; others record soldiers from Lyons in France, from Emerita in Spain, from Brixia in Northern Italy, and from the Rhine. There is the tombstone of a civilian from Cordova in Spain; another is of a man from Frejus on the Riviera; and there is an altar dedicated by two men from Samosata on the banks of the Euphrates.

 

There is an inscription to the memory of a certain Cassius Secundus “who was honourably discharged from military service, and died at the age of eighty”; and this, together with inscriptions to the memory of other veterans, who had died in Chester, shows plainly enough that discharged legionaries, here as elsewhere, generally continued to live with their familes in the place in which they had served, thus peopling the district with their descendants.

 

Amongst other relice in the museum I may mentionse several dedicatory inscriptions to the Genius, or Spirit of the “Century,” the legionary unit, and there is one giving a dedication to the “Genius of the Locality” by a military Tribune. There are several “Centurial Stones,” as they are called, stating that sections of the city walls were built by this or that century. There is a tombstone inscribed “to the memory of Marcus Aurelius Nepos, Centurian of the Twentieth Legion, erected by his dutiful wife.” There is another to Cocceia Irene, “the most chaste and pure wife” of a clerk of that legion; and another records the names of three boy slaves, erected by their master. In the British Museum there is an altar from Chester dedicated to the “Return of Fortune” and to the “Health” of a Legate, set up by his freedmen.

 

The end of the Roman Deva was like that of many other cities and fortresses in Britain. The legions were withdrawn in the early part of the Fifth Century, after which the Roman-British kept their civilization going for a century and a half, but at last fell a prey to the Saxon invaders and Deva became the English Chester. Gerald the Welshman, writing in the Twelfth Century, describes the place as then being still full of Roman ruins. “It is a genuine city of the legions,” he says, “surrounded by walls of brick and tiles, and in it many remains of pristine grandeur are still apparent, namely, immense palaces, a gigantic tower, beautiful baths, remains of temples, and sites of theatres almost entirely surrounded by excellent walls in part remaining; also both without and within the circumference of the walls subterranean constructions, conduits, and vaults with passages. You may also see furnaces constructed with wonderful art, the narrow sides of which exhale heat by concealed flues.

Today these things are destroyed or buried, and little that is Roman is to be detected outside the museum. In Northgate Street, however, in the basement of a shop, there are great pillars to be seen, belonging to a temple which once stood there; and, going down into a cellar under another shop in Bridge Street, you may find yourself in a hypocaust, or hot-air chamber, under the floor of a Roman mansion which now forms the foundation of the modern building, and here, to, you may see the tank of water, fed by an underground spring, which once served the now hidden baths.

 

These, and a few other fragmentary ruins, are all that is left of this City of the Legions, once the mighty frontier fortress from whose ramparts the soldiers of the Twentieth Legion for more than three hundred years looked out across the Sands of Dee, or away to the Welsh mountains amidst which their outposts were stationed.