Caerleon: official guidebooks

Caerleon_MoW

1950 (1962)

(Sir) Mortimer Wheeler and Tessa Wheeler prepared the first official guide to the Roman amphitheatre outside the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca Silurum) in 1935. The couple had excavated on the site in 1926–27. This guide reappeared as the Ministry of Works paper guide in 1950. It contains the sections:

  1. Caerleon in Legend and History
  2. The Amphitheatre

A plan appears on one of the middle pages. There is a note about the legionary barrack-blocks in Prysg Field (also in State Guardianship).

caerleon_doe

1970 (1973)

This simple guide was expanded into the ‘blue’ guide with a contributions by Dr V.E. Nash Williams. This is divided into the following sections:

  1. Caerleon in legend and history
  2. The amphitheatre
  3. The Prysg Field barrack-buildings
  4. Caerllion [short summary in Welsh]

Two fold-out plans appear inside the back cover. The first two sections are essentially the same text as the 1950 guide by Wheeler; Williams contributed the discussion of the barrack-buildings.

The DOE guide has a different bilingual title inside:
Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre and Barrack Buildings
Theatre Gron Rufeinig Caerllion a Llety’r Milwyr

Caerleon_Welsh_Office

1970 (4th impress. 1980)

The Welsh Office / Y Swyddfa Gymreig produced the Official Handbook / Llawlyfr Swyddogol (blue guide) in 1980. Welsh was used on the cover, and inside the guide uses the bilingual titles that were used in the original blue guide.

The main difference is that there is an extended guide in Welsh with sections mirroring the English section: Hanes; Theatr Gron; Disgrifiad.

Caerleon_Cadw

1988

Jeremy K. Knight prepared the new Cadw guide (1988). There was a move away from it being a guide to the amphitheatre to the legionary fortress. The guide was organised in the following sections:

  • In search of Isca
  • The legion and its fortress
  • The foundation of Isca
  • The layout of the fortress
  • The Second Legion and the occupation of Caerleon

 

This was followed by a tour guide, starting with the fortress baths, followed by the amphitheatre, defences and barracks.

A fold-out plan is printed inside the rear card cover.

There is a single page summary in Welsh (Hanes; Disgrifaid).

Caerleon_Cadw_large

2003 (3rd ed.)

Knight prepared the 3rd edition (2003) in the new large format of Cadw guides. A fold-out bird’s eye view was printed inside the front card cover, and a plan inside the back cover. It is divided into two main sections: a history of Roman Isca; a tour of Roman Isca. It contained a feature on ‘Outside the walls: the civilian settlements’.

 

Vindolanda: organic finds

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Vindolanda Museum © David Gill

Some of the organic finds from the excavations at the site of Vindolanda to the south of Hadrian’s Wall have now been put on display in a series of impressive displays in the site museum (see press release). The focus is on the wide range of objects made from wood.

The new displays have been funded through support from the HLF.

Y Gaer (Brecon Gaer): guides

Brecon_Gaer_card

1973

The Roman fort of Brecon Gaer lies to the west of Brecon. It is probably to be identified with the Cicucium (Cicutium) from the Ravenna list. The fort was excavated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1924 and 1925, and the remains placed in State Guardianship in 1953. He suggested that the fort was constructed c. AD 75.

A funerary inscription, dating to c. AD 100, belonged to a trooper in the Cavalry Regiment of Vettonian Spaniards (RIB 403). Another tombstone for a trooper from another cavalry regiment is also known from the site (RIB 405). The same cavalry unit was based in Binchester in Co. Durham in the 190s (RIB 730; 1032; 1035). (The guide suggests that the unit was based at Bowes [see guidebook] but the confusion comes from a dedication made at Bowes.)

Oswin E. Craster prepared the short guide (1954). This consisted of a history followed by a description of the remains.

The later DOE guide is an updated version of the paper guide. The concertina card guide was also used for other Roman forts such as Hardknott, and the Saxon Shore Fort at Reculver.

Brecon_Gaer_MPBW

1954 (1969)

Vindolanda: the strong room

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Vindolanda © David Gill

At the heart of the Roman fort at Vindolanda lay the headquarters building. Excavations in 1933 revealed the 4th century phase of the construction. On the south side lay the sacellum and the strong room. This part of the building was indicated by a Ministry of Works sign (see other signage from the site including the milestone).

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Strong Room, Vindolanda © David Gill

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Sacellum and strong room, Vindolanda © David Gill

UK UNESCO World Heritage site damaged

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Brunton Turret, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill

Part of Hadrian’s Wall at Brunton Turret has been damaged by metal-detectorists “‘Nighthawk’ metal detectorists damage Hadrian’s Wall“, BBC News 20 June 2018). Some 50 holes have been noted around this well-preserved section of the Roman frontier. This raises questions about how internationally significant heritage assets can be protected for future generations. Equally important is the question, how can the archaeological and heritage communities make it clear that such activity cannot be accepted?

Hadrian’s Wall: Pike Hill tower

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Pike Hill tower © David Gill

The tower on Pike Hill lies between MC52 (Bankhead) and T52a (Banks East). Only the south corner survives after the road was adapted in 1870. The tower was excavated in 1931, and associated pottery suggests that it was probably constructed around the reign of Hadrian. Unlike the turrets on Hadrian’s Wall, the wall is attached at an angle suggesting that the tower predates the later defensive line.

An inscription recording Antoninus Pius was found  here in 1862 (RIB 1957). The slab is now in the Tullie House Museum.

London Mithraeum

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Mithraeum, Walbrook, London © David Gill

The Mithraeum was excavated by William Francis Grimes on Walbrook in London. This has now been repositioned in the basement of Bloomberg Space. Visitors experience the darkness of the space and light levels are increased so that the remains can be seen.

Some of the sculptures are displayed in the nearby Museum of London. They include a relief of Ulpius Silvanus, formerly of the II Augustan legion (based at Caerleon). He appears to have been initiated to the cult at Orange in modern France.

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Mithras Tauroctonos, Walbrook Mithraeum, Museum of London © David Gill