History

Newport’s history dates back to a Celtic settlement 2000 years ago.

The city's location at the mouth of the River Usk has attracted visitors for centuries. 

Caerleon, just a few miles from Newport, was the site of a fortress of the 2nd (Augustan) Roman legion from the first century AD.

The remains of the barracks, bath house and amphitheatre in Caerleon are among the best preserved Roman military sites in Britain.

Medieval Newport

The Normans settled in Newport and built a castle beside the river Usk in the 12th century, the remains of which you can see today. 

The town received its first Charter in 1385.

The discovery of the remains of a sea-going vessel in 2002 gives evidence of Newport as a centre of industry and trade in the mediaeval period.

Growth and expansion

During the 19th century industrial revolution Newport expanded rapidly from a small seaport town to one of the most important places in the country for coal export and steel production. 

The town became known for its accessible modern docks.

Trade flourished and further extension of the docks added to Newport’s reputation – in 1914 Newport shipped over 6 million tons of coal per year.

The Chartists

The Chartist uprising of 1839 in Newport concerned demands made by the Chartists including a vote for all men over 21 years, secret ballots, wages for members of parliament (MPs) and the abolition of the property qualifications for MPs.

All of these demands were incorporated within the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Twenty-two Chartists were shot dead by soldiers and their leaders were transported but later pardoned.

These men suffered for principles which we now take for granted and which form the basis of modern parliamentary democracy.

Further information

Newport Past has some useful information about Newport, particularly its history during the 19th century.

Visit Newport Museum and Art Gallery to learn about Newport’s development and history.