Type: Legionary Fortress, Major Settlement.
E (3) to Bulmore (Gwent)|
SW (13) to Cardiff (South Glamorgan)
The Roman name of the Caerleon fortress occurs in three separate itinera within the late-second century list of imperial road-routes known as the Antonine Itinerary, serving as a terminus on two of these routes.
The only other classical geography which mentions the Caerleon fort is the Ravenna Cosmology of the seventh century, where the name Isca Augusta (R&C#52) occurs between the entry for Bannio (Abergavenny, Gwent) and the unidentified station Albinumno.
The modern name for the fortress of the Second Legion Augusta, Caerleon, is an amalgam of the British word *caer/gaer 'camp, fort', and the Latin legionis 'of the legion'. Gildas (x.2) mentions two Christian martyrs, namely Aaron and Julius, who were described as Legionum urbis cives 'citizens of the Legionary town' (i.e. Caerleon).
There are eighty-five inscribed stones recorded in the RIB for Caerleon, including thirty-two tombstones, twenty-three centurial and cohort stones, fourteen altars and votive stones, and nine dateable inscriptions.
|330||AD99/100||a dedication to the emperor Trajan by Legio II Augusta|
|1970.1||AD177-180||restoration of a temple to Iupitter Optimus Maximus of emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus|
|332||AD180-192||altarstone to unknown god with secondary text dedicated to emperor Caracalla|
|333||AD198-209||dedication to emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta|
|326||AD198-209||dedication to the health of the emperors Severus and Caracalla by Legio II Augusta|
|331||AD212-217||dedication to Caracalla as sole emperor|
|328||Sep 23rd AD234||dedication made when Pupienus Maximus (II) and Urbanus were consuls|
|327||Sep 23rd AD244||dedication to the Spirits of the Emperors and the Genius of Legio II Augusta during the consulship of Peregrinus and Aemilius|
|334||AD255-260||dedication to emperors Valerian and Galerius by governor Desticius Juba and Legio II Augusta|
|IMP CAES DIVI NERVAE F NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER PONTIF MAXIMO TRIB POTEST P P COS III LEG II AVG|
|"For Imperator Caesar Nerva Trajanus Augustus Germanicus,¹ son of the divine Nerva, High Priest, holder of tribunician power, Father of the Fatherland, Consul three times.² The Second Augustan Legion [made this]."|
(RIB 330; dated: AD99/100)
|PRO SALVTE AVGG NN SEVERI ET ANTONNI [ET GETAE CAES] P SALLIENVS P F MAEICIA THALAMVS HADRI PRAEF LEG II AVG CVM AMPEIANO ET LVCILIANO|
|"For the salvation of our emperors Severus and Antoninus¹ [and the Caesar Geta],² Publius Sallienius Thalamus, son of Publius, of the Maecian voting tribe from Hadria,³ prefect of the Second Augustan Legion, with Ampeianus and Lucilianus [his sons]."|
(RIB 326; dated: AD198-209; see also RIB 324 infra)
|IMP CAES M AVRELIO ANTONINO P F AVG L SEP SEVERI AVG FILIO LEG II AVG|
|"For Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Augustus,¹ the son of Lucius Septimius Severus Augustus. The Second Augustan Legion [made this]."|
(RIB 331; dated: AD212-217)
|N AVGG GENIO LEG II AVG IN HONOREM MILIT M VALERIVS FELIX... P P D D DD VIIII KAL OCTOB PEREGR ET AEMIL COS CVR VRSO ACTAR LEG EIVS DEM|
|"For the Living Spirits of the Augusti and the Guardian Spirit of Legio Secundae Augusta, in honour of the military achievements of Marcus Valerius Felix¹ [...] propraetor, this votive offering, dedicated on the ninth day before the calends of October, when Peregrinus and Aemilianus were consuls,² was arranged by Ursus, Actarius³ in the aforementioned legion."|
(RIB 327; dated: 23rd September AD244)
|IMPP VALERIANVS ET GALLIENVS AVG ET VALERIANVS NOBILISSIMVS CAES COHORTI VII CENTVRIAS A SOLO RESTITVERVNT PER DESTICIVM IVBAM V C LEGATVM AVG PR PR ET VITVLAESIVM LAETINIANVM LEG LEG II AVG CVRANTE DOMIT POTENTINO PRAEF LEG EIVSDEM|
|"For the emperors Valerianus and Gallienus Augustus, and the most-noble Caesar Valerianus, the centuries of the seventh cohort, restored this from its foundations, during [the administration of] the Right Honourable Desticius Juba, pro-praetorian legate of the emperor, and Vitulaesius Laetinianus, legate of the Second Augustan Legion, under the direction of Domitius Potentinus, prefect of the aforementioned legion."|
(RIB 334; dated: AD255-260)
There are at least seventeen stones which attest the presence of Legio II Augusta at Caerleon, there is a dedicatory inscription to Mithras (RIB 322), an altar to Regina (RIB 324), five building inscriptions (RIB 326/7, 330/1, 334; vide supra), dating from the reign of Trajan (AD99/100) to that of Valerian and Gallienus (AD255-260), there are also nine tombstones of soldiers (RIB 357, 359-361, 363 & 365-368; vide infra) and another possible funerary inscription (RIB 385) attributable to men of the Second Legion including a damaged testament of a signifer of the legion (RIB 367; not shown).
|D M T FLAVIVS CANDIDVS VLP TRAIANA M LEG II AVG STI VII AN XXVII FRA C||"To the shades of the departed Titus Flavius Candidus, of [Colonia] Ulpia Traiana,¹ a soldier of Legio Secundae Augusta with seven years service, twenty-seven years old, his brother saw to [this memorial]."||357|
|D M G IVLI DECVM INI V L II AVG A XXXXV C F C||"To the shades of the departed Gaius Julius Decuminius, veteran soldier of the Second Legion Augusta, forty-five years old, his wife oversaw the making [of this memorial]."||359|
|D M IVL IVLIANVS MIL LEG II AVG STIP XVIII ANNOR XL HIC SITVS EST CVRA AGENTE AMANDA CONIVGE||"To the shades of the departed Julius Julianus, a soldier of the Second Augustan Legion with eighteen years service, forty years of age. He lies here. The responsibility [for this memorial] fell upon his wife Amanda."||360|
|D M A IVLI SEVERI DINIA VETERANI LEG II AVG CONIVX F C||"To the shades of the departed Aulus Julius Severus Dinia[nus?], a veteran of the Second Augustan Legion. His wife attended to [this memorial]."||361|
|D M IVL VALENS VET LEG II AVG VIXIT ANNIS C IVLIA SECVNDINA CONIVNX ET IVL MARTINVS FILIVS F C||"To the shades of the departed Julius Valens, a veteran of Legio Secundae Augusta, who lived for one-hundred years. Julia Secundina his wife and Julius Martinus his son saw to the making [of this memorial]."||363|
|D M G VALERIVS G F GALERIA VICTOR LVGDVNI SIG LEG II AVG STIP XVII ANNOR XLV CVRA AGENTE ANNIO PERPETVO H||"To the shades of the departed Gaius Valerius Victor, son of Gaius, of the Galerian voting tribe from Lugdunum,² standard-bearer of the Second Augustan Legion with seventeen years service, forty-five years old. The responsibility for [this] fell to Annius Perpetuus his heir."||365|
|... SERG ... DOMO... P P LEG II AVG DE SVO SINE TRALATICIO EX ARCA COL|
|"[...] of the Sergian voting tribe [...] a native of [...] 'First Spear'¹ of the Second Augustan Legion, out of his own funds without resorting to the coffers at the Colonia.²"|
|I O M ET G IMPERATORVM ANTONINI ET COMMODI AVGG AEDEM A SOLO RESTITVIT T ES V VIVS ... ... ...N... LEG AVGG PRP D D|
|"For Jupiter Best and Greatest and the Guardian Spirit of the Emperors Antonine and Commodus the Augusti,¹ this temple was restored from ground-level."|
(Britannia 1970.1; dated: AD177-180)
|IOVI O M DOLICHN ... FRONTO AEMILIANVS ... CALPVRNIVS... RVFILIANVS LEG AVGVSTORVM MONITV|
|"For Jupiter Best and Greatest of Doliche, [...] Fronto Aemilianus [...] Calpurnius [...] Rufilianus, the legates of the emperors have advised."|
(RIB 320; altarstone)
Fourteen altarstones and votive texts to various gods have been recovered from the environs of the Caerleon fortress. The texts of all these stones are shown somewhere on this page. The deity with the most dedications is Jupiter who has three altarstones; one dedicated to I O M Dolichenus (RIB 320 supra), one which can be dated to the joint reign of Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus (Brit. 1970.1, dated: AD177-180; atque supra), and another which reads simply I O M or "[to/for] Iuppiter Optimus Maximus" (RIB 319). The only other deity mentioned on more than one stone is the goddess Fortuna with two inscriptions, one dedicated by a Prefectus Castrorum (RIB 317 infra) and another shared with Bona Eventui (RIB 318 etiam infra).
|FORTVNE ET BONO EVENTO CORNELIVS CASTVS ET IVL BELISMICVS CONIVGES POSVER|
|"For Fortuna and Bonus Aventus,¹ Cornelius Castus and Julius Belismicus placed this for their wives."|
|DEAE FORTVNAE IVLIVS BASSVS PRAEF CASTROR|
|"For the goddess Fortuna, Julius Bassus, 'Prefect of the Camp',¹ [dedicates this]."|
There are also a number of deities which are mentioned only on single votive texts. There is an inscribed stone recording the restoration of a temple to Diana (RIB 316), an inscribed statuette of Mercury (RIB 321), a stone votive text dedicated to Mithras (RIB 322), a lead plate dedicated to Nemesis (RIB 323), an altarstone to the goddess Regina (RIB 324), an altar to the Spirit of the Emperor (Brit. 1977.16), and another stone bearing the simple text TERMIN "to/for Terminus" (RIB 325), evidently dedicated to the Roman god of boundaries and limits, whose festivals, the Terminalia, were observed at Rome each February. In addition, there are another two altarstones dedicated to unknown gods (RIB 332, dated: AD180-192; RIB 329; uterque vide infra).
|T FL POSTVMIVS VARVS V C LEG TEMPL DIANAE RESTITVIT|
|"Titus Flavius Postumius Varus, Vir Clarissimus,¹ has restored the legionary temple of Diana."|
|DEO MERCVRIO CVR... D D SEVER P|
|"To the god Mercury. Arranged by [...] donated this votive offering for Severus his father.¹"|
(RIB 321; statue)
|INVICTO MITHRAE ...S IVSTVS ... LEG II AVG B M F|
|"For Undefeated Mithras [...]s Justus [...] the Second Augustan Legion, well-deserved have made this."|
|DOMNA NEMESIS DO TIBI PALLEVM ET GALLICVLAS QVI TVLIT NONREDIMAT NI VITA SANGVINE SVI|
|"For the Lady Nemesis¹ an offering to you. Unless the robes and Gallic sandals² which were carried off are not redeemed, the life blood of the perpetrators [is forfeit]."|
(RIB 323; lead plate)
|SALVTI REGINAE P SALLIENIVS P F MAECIA THALAMVS HADRIA PREF LEG II AVG CVM FILIS SVIS AMPEIANO ET LVCILIANO D D|
|"Greetings to Regina.¹ Publius Sallienius Thalamus, son of Publius, of the Maecian voting tribe from Hadria, prefect of the Second Augustan Legion, with his sons Ampeianus and Lucilianus, gave this votive offering."|
(RIB 324; altarstone; see also RIB 326 supra)
|NVMINIBVS AVG COMM ITVS VSLM|
|"To the Divine Spirits of the Emperors, Commitus willingly and deservedly fulfills his vow."|
(Britannia 1977.16; altarstone)
|...I... ... VSLM|
IMP MARCVS AVRELIVS MARCI AVRELI FIL
|"[...] willingly and deservedly fulfilling a vow|
Imperator [Caesar] Marcus Aurelius [Commodus Antoninus Augustus], the son of Marcus Aurelius.¹"
(RIB 332; altarstone; dated: AD180-192)
|...EIVSDEM EX VOTO POVSVIT|
|"[...] of the same, as the result of a vow has placed this."|
(RIB 329; altarstone)
|IMPERATORES CAESARES L SEPTIMIVS SEVERVS PIVS PERTINAX AVG ET M AVRELIVS ANTONINVS AVG ET P SEPTIMIVS GETA NOBILISSIMVS CAESAR ... VETVSTATE CORRVPTVM ... RESTITVERVNT|
|"The Imperatores, the Caesares, Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, and Publius Septimius Geta,¹ the most noble Caesar [...] which had decayed through old age [...] they have restored."|
(RIB 333; dated: AD198-209)
Situated on the south-western edge of the modern town of Caerleon in Gwent, the Isca Silurum legionary fortress had a standard, playing-card outline measuring 1,600 by 1,350 feet (c.490x410 metres) and encloses an area within the defences of some 50 acres (21ha), easily large enough to house a fully-manned legion of between five and six thousand men. The defences of the fortress are aligned towards the north-west, which implies that the most significant threat was expected to come from that quarter.
|Plan of Isca Silurum (from Webster, fig.33)|
The original Flavian timber fortress was built sometime between AD70 to 80, which may place the foundation during the campaigns of governor Sextus Julius Frontinus in 74-75. It was certainly built by the men of Legio II Augusta, who continued to garrison the fortress until the mid-fourth century. An inscription of Trajan gives us a fairly precise dating for the replacement of the fortress walls to AD99/100, when the original earth and timber ramparts of the fortress were strengthened by the addition of a stone revetment at the front. Defences of this "composite" rampart consisted of a stone wall 5 to 5½ feet thick, backed by a clay bank and fronted by a single ditch.
|DEDICATVM VIIII A D KAL OCTOBRES PVPIENIO MAXIMO II ET VRBANO COS|
|"Dedicated nine days before the calends of October when Pupienus Maximus - for the second time - and Urbanus were consuls."|
(RIB 328; dated: 23rd September AD234; see also RIB 327)
Between AD140 and 200 occupation evidence is slight, and it has been suggested that most of Legio II Augusta was away in Scotland during this period. The fortress was damaged c.196/7, but by the turn of the third century the legion was evidently back in residence, an inscription records repairs made c.197-211 and another records that the barracks were rebuilt in stone during 259. The coin sequence in the fortress stops in 296, coincident with the period when the legionary fortress at York was rebuilt, and it seems that Caerleon was abandoned at this time, the Legion perhaps moving for a short while to garrison the Coastal Fortress at Cardiff - which had just been rebuilt - before being relocated to Rutupiae on the coast of Cantium.
During excavations at Caerleon over the years a number of animal bones have been uncovered, including those of domesticated Ox, Sheep, Goat, and Pig, also game animals such as Red Deer, Roe Deer, Boar and Hare, and even those of Fox and Wolf; the latter animals very likely being hunted and killed for sport and as a means of pest control. In addition, the soldiers' diet was supplemented by seawater molluscs including Oyster, Mussel, Limpet and Cockle.
|COH I C STATORI MAXIMI P XXXIII S|
|"The First Cohort, Century of Statorius Maximus, established thirty-three paces.¹"|
(RIB 395; boundary stone)
|COH II > LIVIANA PE XXIIX||"The Second Cohort, century of Liviana, [made] twenty-eight feet.¹"||336|
|COH III C RVFINI PRIMI||"The Third Cohort, century of Rufinus Primus."||339|
|CHO V > PAETINI||"The Fifth Cohort, century of Paetinus."||340|
|CHOR VI HAST PRI > ROESI MODERA||"The Sixth Cohort, century of the Hastatus Prior,² Roesius Modera."||341|
|VIII > VALER MAXSIMI||"The Eighth Cohort, century of Valerius Maximus."||352|
|COHO VIIII||"The Ninth Cohort."||342|
|COH X > FL IVLINI||"The Tenth Cohort, century of Flavius Julinus."||343|
|> VALERI MAXIM||> G IVLI CAECINIANI||> LICINI NERV|
|"The Century of Valerius Maximus."||"The Century of Gaius Julius Caecinianus."||"The Century of Licinius Nerva."|
|(RIB 351)||(RIB 346)||(RIB 347)|
|LEG II AVG|
|"[Property of] the Second Augustan Legion."|
A large amphitheatre built c.AD80 could hold six thousand people within its wooden superstructure, and was probably used for parades, displays and exercises by the garrison of the fortress as well as for the usual gladiatorial entertainments. This (Period I) building was destroyed by fire in the early-second century, and the second (Period II) building erected c.AD138 was destroyed around sixty years later c.196/7. It was rebuilt for the third and last time during the campaigns of Severus and Caracalla in Britain c.197-211. The Period III building finally fell into disuse around the middle of the fourth century at the same time that the Caerleon fortress was evacuated. The latest coin from the site is that of Valens (AD364-378).
Beside the River Usk was a massive quay which could accomodate ships with a draught of up to five feet (1.6 metres) at high tide. Nearby, the large baths complex with a swimming pool was still in use in c.AD345 when final rebuilding took place. Repairs to the local road network outside the fortress was last carried out c.301-306.
|IMPP VALERIANVS ET GALLIENVS AVGG ET VALERIANVS NOBILISSIMVS CAES COHORTI VII CENTVRIAS A SOLO RESTITVERVNT PER DESTICIVM IVBAM V C LEGATVM AVGG PR PR ET VITVLASIVM LAETINIANVM LEG LEG II AVG CVRANTE DOMIT POTENTINO PRAEF LEG EIVSDEM|
|"For the emperors Valerianus Augustus, Gallienus Augustus and the most noble Valerianus Caesar,¹ the centuries of the Seventh Cohort, restored [this building] from the foundations, under the most honourable Desticius Juba,² pro-praetorian legate of the emperors, and the legate Vitulasius Laetinianus of the Second Augustan Legion, under the direction of Domitius Potentinus, prefect of the forementioned legion"|
(RIB 334; CIL VII.107; ILS 537; dated: AD256-258)
|D M AVRELIVS HERCVLANVS AEQVES VIXIT ANNOS XXVIII CONIVX FACIENDVM CVRAVIT||"To the shades of the departed Aurelius Herculanus, a horse-soldier who lived for twenty-eight years, his wife saw to the making [of this]."||356|
|D M T FL NATALIS VETERANVS VIXIT AN LXV CVRATVM PER FL INGENVINVM ET FL FLAVINVM FIL ET FL VELDICCAM CONIV||"To the shades of the departed Titus Flavius Natalis, a veteran soldier, sixty-five years old, attended by his sons Flavius Ingenuinus and Flavius Flavinus, and his wife Veldicca."||358|
|D M TADIA VALLAVNIVS VIXIT ANN LXV ET TADIVS EXVPERTVS FILIVS VIXIT ANN XXXVII DEFVNCTVS EXPEDITIONE GERMANICA TADIA EXVPERATA FILIA MATRI ET FRATRI PIISSMA SECVS TVMVLVM PATRIS POSVIT||"To the shades of the departed Tadia Vellaunius, who lived for sixty-five years, and her son Tadius Exupertus, who lived for thirty-seven years, who died on the German campaign, Tadia Exuperata her daughter, for the most loyal mother and brother, whom she has buried separately from her father."||369|
|D M CAESORIA COROC CA V A XLVIII RENATVS CONIVX EIVS ET MVNATIVS ET LESTINVS ET LECONTIVS FECERVNT FILI EIVS||"To the shades of the departed Caesoria Corocca, who lived for forty-eight years, Renatus her husband and her sons Munatius, Lestinus and Lecontius have made this."||371|
Aside from those tombstones with undamaged or restorable funerary inscriptions shown and translated here, there are another fourteen damaged stones, none of which are shown.
|D M IVL NVNDINAE VIXIT AN XXX AGRIVS CIMARVS CONIVNX PIISSIMVS F C||"To the shades of the departed Julia Nundina who lived thirty years, Agrius Cimarus had this made for a most dutiful wife."||372|
|D M MEMORIAE IVLIAE SECVNDINAE MATRI PIISSIME VIXIR ANNIS LXXV G IVL MARTINVS FIL F C||"To the shades of the departed Julia Secundina who lived seventy-five years, Gaius Julius Martinus had this made for his most devoted mother."||373|
|D M IVLIE SENICE VICS ANOS LX||"To the shades of the departed Julia Senica who lived for sixty years."||374|
|D M IVLIA VENERIA AN XXXII I ALESAN CON PIENTISSIMVS ET I BELICIANVS F MONIME F C||"To the shades of the departed [and] Julia Veneria aged thirty-two; Julius Alexander her most devoted husband and Julius Belicianus her son had this monument made."||375|
|D M IVLIA IBERNA VIXSIT ANNOS XVI MESSE XI F C FLA FLAVINA MATER||"To the shades of the departed Julia Hiberna who lived for sixteen years eleven months; Flavia Flavina her mother had this made."||377|