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Lodge Hill Fort

Sketch by Harry de Caux showing the ramparts of Lodge Hill FortSketch by Harry de Caux

Fact and Legend

Photo of a section of overgrown rampartCaerleon's history did not begin and end with the Romans. A large hill fort was constructed just North West of the present village some 300 to 500 years before their arrival. Some claim that this was the stronghold of Beli, King of Britain.

By the time the Romans arrived in the area it was occupied by the Silures. This fierce tribe fought back vigorously against Roman might - the large number of Roman fortresses in the area (more than any other part of Britain) are proof of this.

There is some dispute as to whether the Silures were actually defeated by the Romans or persuaded to work with them. Certainly the walled Roman City of Venta Silurum (Caerwent), nearby Caerleon, soon became the administrative centre and capital of the Silures. The Romans needed the co-operation of the Silures - the cost of maintaining a large garrison in the area was enormous and supplying the many remote forts was difficult.

When the Romans left Britain, around the year 400, many of the ancient hill forts were reoccupied. It is during this period that King Arthur is said to have lead the fight back against the Saxon take-over of the country. The legend of Arthur has long been associated with Caerleon and maybe Lodge Hill is the site of Camelot!

UWCN conducted excavations on the site during the Summer of 2000...

Preliminary Findings of Summer 2000 Excavations

UWCN archaeologists excavated three trenches at the western end of the hillfort: one in the interior (trench 1 in plan below); one at the western entrance (trench 2) and one through the top of the inner rampart and ditch (trench 3).

The excavations suggested the hillfort was begun in the early-middle Iron Age, c.600-300BC, and was occupied perhaps up to the point of the Roman conquest. The ramparts and entrance were modified on at least two occasions.

Within the small area of the interior excavated, post-holes and stone surfaces of buildings were found - evidence of Iron Age settlement. There was evidence of industrial activity - iron working slag.

Among the artifacts unearthed were middle and late Iron Age pottery and an iron brooch (c.300BC).

Findings, including sherds of pottery and post-hole settings,  indicate that the hillfort was reused, possibly reoccupied, in the late Roman period. It is possible that the inner rampart may have been rebuilt during this time (3rd-4th century) or during the immediate post-Roman period.

Plan view of hill fort showing locations of trenches

Read the full interim report, written by Ray Howell and Josh Pollard, SCARAB, University of Wales College, Newport.