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Visit National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon

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At the National Roman Legion Museum, you can discover what life was like almost 2000 years ago, while the close by Caerleon has a fully explorable amphitheatre, Roman Baths and an uncovered barracks. The Romans were a formidable force and Wales wouldn't have been quite the same without them.

In AD75, Roman settlers built the mighty fortress of Isca Augusta in present-day Caerleon. One of only three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain, it housed a 5000-strong force and defended the furthest outpost of their empire for two centuries. You can find out about this fascinating period of history at the National Roman Legion Museum, which contains artefacts found in and around the site.

The Bath stone coffin

Of all the treasures found in and around Caerleon since the 1600s and displayed at the National Roman Legion Museum, this stone coffin is a major highlight. Using forensic technology, a 3D computer model has been made from the skeleton inside, which belonged to a man of moderate build who died around 40 years of age. A painting in Roman style shows what he might have looked like.

The oldest writing in Wales

In pride of place at the museum is a first century wooden tablet, found in a well on the site. It’s not complete, but you can still make out the words on it, written in ink. Also on display are several memorial stones including a beautifully carved stone for resident Tadia Vallaunius and her son, soldier Tadius Exuperatus, who died on an expedition to Germany campaign.

Coins and gemstones

Heaps of treasure are on display at the museum. You can admire one of the finest hoards of silver coins from second century Roman Britain, 599 in all, found by a local metal detector enthusiast in 2006, and the largest collection of engraved gemstones in Britain, as small as a fingernail with exquisite designs of gods and animals on them, discovered in the bathhouse drain.