During the Roman era, Roman Britain included all that is today Wales. For the most part, Roman Britain did not include what is Scotland (except for periods when the Romans ruled as far north as the Antonine Wall in Scotland). Both Scotland and Wales were quite peripheral to Roman Britain but there are still Roman ruins to be found.

One of the best places in England to see old Roman ruins is the stunning Tudor and Roman city of Chester. There one will see one of the most charming small English cities built on an old Roman fort. But if one wants to see really impressive Roman ruins, then go to Italy, southern France, and Turkey.


What To Know About The Roman Occupation Of Wales

The Roman era in Wales began in 48 AD as the Romans commenced their conquest of Britain. Their conquest was complete by around 78 AD and Roman rule continued unabated in the Welsh region until they abandoned it in 383 AD.

  • Occupation of Wales: From 78 AD to 383 AD

While many cities in England were founded by the Romans (like London, Chester, and others), only one town was founded by the Romans in Wales - Caerwent in South Wales.

  • Caerwent: The Only Town Founded By The Romans In Wales
  • Peripheral: Apart From Southwestern Wales, Much of Wales was Peripheral

Wales was valuable as a source of mineral wealth and during this time, the Romans extracted large amounts of lead, copper, gold, and smaller amounts of other precious metals. But still, outside of South Wales, the rest of Wales was quite peripheral to the Empire and to Roman Britain. Today most of the Roman archaeological remains in Wales consist almost entirely of military roads and fortifications.

Related: See The Best Roman Ruins In Scotland (North Of Hadrian's Wall)

The Roman Fort of Caerleon

The most notable Roman attraction in Wales is the fort of Caerleon (or known as Isca to the Romans). It was one of only three permanent fortresses in Roman Britain (the others being at Chester and York in England) and covered around 50 acres of land. It is located on the south-eastern extreme of Wales close to the border with England.

  • Permanent Fortresses of Britain: Caerleon (Isca), Chester, and York

Much of the old Roman legionary fortress and settlement (or vicus) lies beneath parts of the present-day suburban village of Caerleon. This fortress is regarded as uniquely important for studying the conquest, pacification, and colonization of Britannia. Fortunately, archaeology is aided here as the archaeological ruins have lain mostly undisturbed through the centuries. New discoveries are happening all the time.

The amphitheater there began construction in AD 90 and it used a timber grandstand (as opposed to stone as in most places in Europe). It would have had a capacity for around 6,000 people.

  • Seating: Around 6,000 People

Today the fortress is a Museum and it is free to enter. At the museum, one can see the galleries and exhibits and tour the most complete amphitheater in Britain, the Fortress Baths, and the only remains of a Roman Legionary Barracks on display anywhere in Europe.

One will be able to see the excavated open-air swimming pool and the cold bath suite (called a frigidarium). The parts one sees today are only a fraction of the original complex.

  • Admission: Free
  • Amphitheater: The Most Complete Amphitheater In Britain
  • Capacity: The Amphitheater Would Have Seated Around 6,000 Spectators
  • Legion: It Was The Headquarters of The Legion "II Augusta"

Related: Do The Baths Of England Live Up To The Hype? Here's What To Know

Other Roman Ruins of Wales

Most of the Roman ruins outside of South Wales are military roads and fortifications and Caerleon is by far the most significant in Wales.

Dolaucothi Gold Mines:

The Dolauchothi Gold Mines is the only gold mine in Britain that is known for certain was worked by the Romans. There is a guided tour offered on-site that delves into the more modern workings of the mine from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. But as one enters the tunnels one will also see the legacy of the Romans.

  • Location: In The Valley of The River Cothi in Carmarthenshire, Wales

The mines are important for showing advanced Roman technology. The mines are open seasonally and only on certain days. When they are open, they are open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Llawern Roman Settlement:

In Llawern in Wales, a settlement of three stone buildings dating from between the 2nd and 4th Centuries AD have been unearthed recently. Included in the finds are a mosaic floor, a circular building, and a number of burials.

This is a new find and the purpose of the buildings is not yet fully known. They were discovered while a new housing development was being constructed.

A fuller list of Roman ruins in South Wales is listed on South Wales Argus.

Next: These Are Some Of The Best Preserved Roman Roads To Explore