Wales National Roman Legion Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Wales National Roman Legion Museum

Newport, Wales, United Kingdom

The Wales National Roman Legion Museum explores the history and legacy of the Roman Empire’s furthest outpost.

Amy Irvine

11 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Wales National Roman Legion Museum

The Wales National Roman Legion Museum explores the history and legacy of the Roman Empire’s furthest outpost – Wales.

History of Wales National Roman Legion Museum

In 75 AD, the Romans built a fortress at Isca Augusta, now Caerleon (near Newport), that would guard the region for over 200 years. The fortress was one of only three permanent Roman Legionary fortresses in Roman Britain.

The Wales National Roman Legion Museum lies inside the walls of what remains of a first century Roman fortress. The ruins of this fort are located nearby at Prysg Field – they are the only remains of a Roman Legionary barracks on view anywhere in Europe. The museum also includes a recreation of what these Roman barracks would have looked like and contains many artefacts from the period of Isca Augusta of Legio II Augusta, from Roman currency to uniforms.

Also located within the museum complex are the remains of the impressive Roman baths, which formed part of the legionary barracks. The ruins of the bathhouse are now housed within a protective modern structure and include reconstructions of the baths as well as a detailed model of their original design.

The Wales National Roman Legion Museum is located in the centre of Roman Isca, on what was the via principalis leading to the most complete Roman amphitheatre ruins in Britain (built in 90 AD), where a timber grandstand would once have seated some 6,000 people.

The first museum building was the Antiquarian Museum of 1850. It was Grade II listed in 1951, but largely demolished during the 1987 rebuilding and enlargement of the museum.

Wales National Roman Legion Museum today

The small museum was further redeveloped in February 2019, and houses a range of artefacts including everyday utensils and pottery. Amongst its main highlights, are an impressive Roman gemstone collection, the remains of a 2nd-3rd century man together with his funereal items and coffin, and a 1st century Roman tablet inscribed in ink – the oldest recorded piece of writing in Wales.

The Wales National Roman Legion Museum is free to enter.

Getting to Wales National Roman Legion Museum

If travelling to the museum by car, follow the brown helmet signs from the M4 (westbound junction 25, eastbound junction 26). Parking is available either on Broadway (next to the amphitheatre), Museum Street (limited parking) or off High Street, which is adjacent to the Baths.
Buses run from nearby Newport. The closest train station to the museum is Newport, 4 miles away.

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