|A new "old
photo", captured by a local in Autumn 2000. Shortly after the
grass was cut, it rained and rained. The grass clippings blocked
the drains and hey presto!
Now, this picture means a lot to our editor, Merlin.
When he was a lad he used to visit the amphitheatre with a school
friend. The two would scour the ruins sure they would discover
something that had previously gone un-noticed.
In those days there was a small building near
the entrance to the grounds where visitors paid to enter (nowadays
entry is free). From time to time a man in a smart uniform would
appear from the hut and answer visitors' questions. The lads were
never short of questions! The two had heard that sometimes the
Romans flooded amphitheatres and held mock sea battles in scaled
down ships. They asked the curator if that ever happened here.
He must have been having a bad day, or they had caught him at
a bad moment
He pulled their suggestion to pieces. "Where
would the water come from? The river?" The Roman Baths hadn't
been excavated and the boys didn't know about the huge quantities
of water the Romans piped to Caerleon from miles away, so they
agreed: "Yes the river." They were done for now
didn't they know water only flows downhill? After laying it on
thickly he walked away. Well Merlin has the last laugh because
this picture shows it was possible!
HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE FOR THE ROMANS TO FLOOD THE
- The arena was (as it is now) below the level
of the surrounding ground.
- A large drain ran under the arena and out to
the River Usk. (This is still functioning - when not blocked
with grass!) It would have been an easy matter to cover the
entrances to this drain.
- Huge quantities of water were piped to Caerleon
for the Baths, ablutions etc. Flooding the arena would have
been an easy matter, it is considerably lower than the Roman
Baths. Also it could have been drained in a very short time.