The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological
Historic Environment Record
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ROMAN FORTRESS, USK (BURRIUM)Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 01998g
Trust : Glamorgan Gwent
Community : Usk
NGR : SO37520069
Site Type (preferred type first) : Roman Fortress
Legal Protection : scheduled ancient monument
Roman legionary fortress founded under Nero, during the earliest campaign against the Silures. Excavation has revealed a number of structures, mainly in the central area of the fortress, including the colonnaded via principalis, a group of granaries, an officer's house and barrack blocks.
Usk (Burrium) has long been considered a military site that predates the main Roman push into South wales under the Flavians. The original (Neronian) installation was a large fortress, probably for the Twentienth Legion Valeria Victrix, and is likely during the latter part of its occupation to have been a vexillartion fortress, occupied by a cavalry unit as well as all or part of the legion. The fortress is clearly distinguishable from the later (Flavian) fort PRN 10976g, whose defences cut across some of the fortress's internal buildings.
Excavations from the 1960s to the 1980s have firmly established Usk as the location of a legionary vexillation fortress (Manning 1981; 1989; Marvell 1990; 1996). The fortress is known to relate to the Neronian campaigns, and although the precise date of its foundation is not entirely certain, it is thought most likely to have been built around AD 54. The installation's lifetime was relatively brief, however, for by AD 74 or shortly after it had been replaced by a new fortress 10 km downriver at Caerleon. Activity within the Usk fortress may already have been scaled down by this date, if, as Manning suggests, the garrison had been markedly reduced in AD 67.
Habitation at Usk may not have entirely ceased after AD 74, but there is nevertheless little evidence of significant occupation in the following decade. However, a revival of the site is attested by the presence of a small defended enclosure in the northwest portion of the demolished fortress, built during the late AD 80s.
The Neronian fortress was situated on roughly level ground at the 15m contour, on land between the Rivers Usk and Olway. The defences measured some 480m north-south and 400m east-west, and now lie largely underneath the southern part of the modern town.
Pearson 2002, 27
Marvell, A.G. and Maynard, D.J , 1998 , Excavations south of the legionary fortress at Usk, Gwent, 1994 , Britannia : 29 : 247-267
Sir R Colt Hoare , 1804 , Tour in Wales
Manning, W H , 1981 , Report on the excavations at Usk, 1965-1976: The Fortress excavations 1968-1971
Manning, W H and Scott, I R , 1989 , Report on the excavations at Usk, 1965-1976: The Fortress Excavations 1972-1974 and Minor Excavations on the Fortress and Flavian Fort
02/PM Note/Manning WH/1973/Arch in Wales p41 no56
03/PM Note/Jackson RP & Manning WH/1975/Arch in Wales pp49-50 no62
01/PM Desc Text/Manning WH/1965/Arch in Wales no41 p13
04/Desc Text/Cadw/ Full Management Report/200/Copy in further information file
E000307 : ROMAN FORTRESS, USK, PARTIAL EXCAVATION, 1965-76 (year : 1965-76)
E003362 : Excavations south of Usk legionary fortress, 1994 (year : 1994)
E002352 : Usk Rising Main, Archaeological Excavations (year : 1995)
E002317 : Old Cattle Market, Usk (year : 1973-74)
Related PRNs :
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