Image of Mars Lenus Ocelus inscription


The jewel in the crown of Newport Museum’s archaeology collections is the Caerwent Roman town archive, excavated in the early twentieth century by the Caerwent Exploration Fund (CEF).

The CEF was set up by the Clifton Antiquarian Club of Bristol and the president was Godfrey Morgan, Lord Tredegar.

Between 1899 and 1913 two thirds of Caerwent was uncovered to reveal the plan of the late Roman town.

The excavations, supervised by local Alfred Hudd and Thomas Ashby, were largely concerned with the investigation of the uppermost levels. Diagonal trenches picked up the foundations of late Roman buildings which were recorded to floor level.

The earlier buildings largely built of timber and clay were left untouched under these levels. The origins and development of Caerwent have subsequently been pieced together by later excavations.

Caerwent was called ‘Venta Silurum’ - ‘market of the Silures’ - after the native tribe. The town was probably made a ‘civitas’ (a self governing administrative centre) under Emperor Hadrian (AD117 – 38), though its origins lie earlier in the 70s.

View interactive 3D images of finds from Caerwent: Mother Goddess (pdf) and Celtic Head (pdf)