The Roman conquest, occupation and settlement of Wales took place over the course of 360 years from AD 47 – AD410.
Evidence of this dramatic time can still be found in our country, providing a fascinating glimpse into the great cultural and technological changes the Romans brought to Wales.
What did the Romans do for us? They encouraged the widespread use of coins as currency and introduced mass production, sanitation, literacy and road networks. The Roman Conquest and Settlement of Wales trail will help you discover more about the profound effect these settlers had on our society.
What? Remains of a Roman fort built to defend the Empire against rebellious tribes.
Where? Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Situated in the heart of Gwynedd, Segontium Roman Fort stands a little over a mile from the magnificent site of Caernarfon Castle.
Established in AD 77, Segontium was the centre of Roman control in north Wales, with a force of 1,000 auxiliary soldiers stationed here at its peak. Visitors to the site can marvel at the remains of the fort while imagining what life would have been like for those who were stationed here.
Long after the final departure of the legions, Segontium passed into Welsh legend as Caer Aber Seint (the fort at the mouth of the river) and is mentioned in the dream of Macsen Wledig in the early tales of the Mabinogion.
Want more? A display at Caernarfon Castle includes the story of Macsen Wledig, referencing the town’s early beginnings in a new interpretive film.
Did you know..? Cadw recently reconstructed what Segontium would have looked like in its heyday using CGI technology. You can watch the video here.
Segontium Roman Fort
What? Remains of gold mine opened over 2,000 years ago
Where? Cothi Valley, Carmarthenshire
The Romans came to Britain to search out its mineral and agricultural wealth, and they quite literally ‘struck gold’ here at Dolaucothi, beginning an industry that lasted on this site through to 1938.
These goldmines are unique in Wales and the visible remains of the mining operations, water systems and aqueduct are truly impressive. You can see for yourself where the Roman’s would have hacked away at the tunnel walls, bit by bit as part of a highly planned and organised operation.
Looked after by National Trust, tours down into the site are available, while further Roman sites Y Pigwyn Roman Marching Camp, Brecon Gaer Fort and Carmarthen Amphitheatre are all within visiting distance.
Did you know..? Dolaucothi also benefits from breath-taking views out onto the wooded hillsides of the Cothi Valley
What? Extraordinarily well-preserved Roman fortress, amphitheatre and baths.
Where? Caerleon, Newport
Caerleon is at the heart of the nation’s Roman story. Once home to the Second Augustan Legion, the mighty fortress comes complete with an original Roman amphitheatre. Ringside seats at this amphitheatre, thought to have been able to seat at least 6,000 spectators, could have been a rather messy affair – just imagine man and beast fighting tooth and claw for their lives!
Visitors can also imagine life as a Roman soldier in the barrack blocks or, with the help of some digital wizardry, see bathers enjoying the fortress baths in what was once the settlers’ state-of-the-art leisure complex.
The National Roman Legion Museum is also situated in Caerleon. It tells the story of life in this far flung outpost of the Roman Empire, and displays artefacts found during excavations of Roman Caerleon.
Did you know..? Occupied from AD 75, the original timber site was steadily rebuilt in stone – much of what you see today dates from the second century AD.
Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths
What? Remains of a complete Roman town
Where? Caerwent, Monmouthshire
Caerwent’s local tribe, the Silures, resisted the Romans for over 30 years before surrendering in AD 75. In time the Romans gave them ‘civitas’ status – local self-governance. The town, known as Venta Silurum or “Market of the Silures was”, was then established as part of the arrangement.
The fourth century structures include excavated houses, a forum-basilica and a Romano-British temple, all enclosed within huge town walls that still stand up to 17 feet (5.2m) high in places.
Visit the West Gate barns area for fascinating interpretation panels.
Did you know..? Known as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Roman archaeology in Wales, the remains at Caerwent Roman Town are said to rival the quality of Hadrian’s Wall.
Caerwent Roman Town