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Caerwent Town Walls

In the community of Caerwent.
In the historic county of Monmouthshire.
Modern authority of Monmouthshire.
Preserved county of Gwent.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST469905
Latitude 51.61073° Longitude -2.76877°

Caerwent Town Walls has been described as a probable Urban Defence.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The extensive remains of the Roman city of Venta Silurum are found in the village of Caerwent. The surviving city walls, particularly on the south side, are one of the most impressive Roman monuments in Britain.
The city occupies a low ridge or spur, overlooking the meadows alongside the Nedern Brook. This is at the centre of a valley plain surrounded by hills. There was a settlement or centre of some kind in the later first century AD, but the formal capital was not established until the second century when the east-west road running across the plain was built, possibly as late as the principate of Hadrian. This became a grand city crowded with luxurious private mansions and public buildings, including an amphitheatre. These buildings spilled out beyond the tower-studded walls, which enclosed an area of some 16.5ha. (Coflein)

The monument consists of the remains of Venta Silurum, the most important civilian Roman settlement in Wales and the administrative capital, or civitas, of the Silures tribe. The surviving town walls are among the finest examples of Roman masonry in Britain and it was the standing remains that attracted early antiquaries to the town. In the 16th century William Camden noted 'the ruinous walls, the chequer'd pavements (mosaics), and the Roman coyns', while in the 17th and 18th centuries mosaics were uncovered, and most destroyed. Since 1899 over half of the area within the walls has been excavated with the result that much is known about the layout of the town. The settlement at Caerwent was established in the late 1st century AD, soon after the Roman conquest of South Wales, and was located on the line of the road connecting Gloucester with Carmarthen... The first town defences, built around this time, consisted of an earthen bank and outer ditch, and the road ran E/W through the middle of the town, along the line of the modern road. The Roman road was wider than the modern road, and had gateways at each end. There were also gates on the N and S sides of the town... In the second half of the 3rd century or the first half of the 4th century, the town defences were strengthened, with an external wall built onto the earthen bank and the gateways rebuilt in stone. Around AD 350 towers were added to the N and S walls (6 on the S side, 5 on the N side), and about this time the original defensive ditch was filled in and a new outer ditch dug, and the N and S gates were blocked. The town wall can be best appreciated on the S side of the town, where it is accessible for its entire length from the E to W gateways. These gateways would have been the principal entrances to the town and probably comprised double archways and flanking guard chambers. The S wall stands to a maximum height of 5m and retains much of the original facing stone, in places right to the top. Where the facing stone is missing the roughly coursed rubble core of the wall is visible. The original 2nd century earthen bank was retained after the stone wall was built and would have been surmounted by a wall-walk. The towers built along the N and S walls are semi-octagonal in plan. Most are ruinous, but one on the S wall stands to nearly the full height of the wall and has internal joist holes which demonstrate that it would have been 3 storeys high, containing three windowless rooms. (Scheduling Report)

It is uncertain what condition the walls were in medieval period but must have still been strong, particularly in earlier periods before the site was quarried for stone building. However the circuit must have been too large for small village and possible ecclesiastical site to defend.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER   Scheduling        
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This record last updated 07/07/2016 08:16:18