Caerleon Net

Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre flooded!
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!


  • 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.

(Left) The same view with the plug pulled out.
If you have any interesting or unusual photos of Caerleon, please get in touch. We will of course withhold your name if you so wish.

Email: Merlin