Saturday, 26 September 2015

South Wales, Caerleon in Gwent, Roman Gems and King Arthur

Who's Casting a Shadow on St Cadoc's Church? ©Solange Hando

Have you ever heard of Caerleon?
Maybe not, but just three miles from Newport in Gwent, South Wales, this quiet flower-decked village reveals an amazing past.

Roman Amphitheatre in Caerleon ©Solange Hando

First it was the Celts, then the Romans arrived in AD 75, over 5000 of them, building a massive fortress which they named Isca after the river Usk.

But the Romans liked the good life and besides the remains of the barracks, you can still wonder at this lovely amphitheatre and the Baths -don't miss them, it's magic-, near the Legionary Museum where gems which slipped down the drain in Roman times are on display.

Living Arthurian Legends in Caerleon, South Wales ©Solange Hando

Later, they say, the Roman amphitheatre  became the seat of King Arthur's Round Table, after he was crowned in St Cadoc's, the parish church (top).

No one knows for sure but everyone loves a legend and along the High Street in Caerleon, the Forum greets visitors with a sculpture garden where Merlin, Guinevere and Morgan le Fey mingle with a host of legendary spirits.

The Famous Pub in Caerleon ©Solange Hando

Maybe this is what inspired the illustrious poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson, when he planned 'The Idylls of the King' in Caerleon's Hanbury Arms.

'The Usk murmurs by the windows,' he mused, 'and I sit like King Arthur at Caerleon... a most quiet village... with a little museum of Roman tombstones and other things.'

The River Usk seen from the Hanbury Arms ©Solange Hando

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