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'Roman' Arches In The Bull Cellar

Mr Humphrey Jones, proprietor of the Olde Bull Inn in the 1930s, is pointing out some Roman brick in one of the arches in the pub's cellar. The arches were said to be Roman in origin. Our photographer recently visited the Bull to get some shots of the cellar. He was disappointed to find that the arches were filled in and the walls plastered and painted white. The only feature linking present with past was the stone steps.

When you look at these arches it's not surprising that according to local folklore the Bull and Priory were connected by a tunnel.

Excavations in Caerleon have revealed quite a few Roman underground passages - mostly drains. Gerald of Wales wrote the following after visiting Caerleon on his tour of Wales in 1188:

"Wherever you look, both within and without the circuit of these walls, you can see constructions dug deep into the earth, conduits for water, underground passages and air-vents."

Peter van Renswoude-Davies has contacted us to say the tunnel is not just folklore, he said:

"I am aware that the use of such passages merely proves a relationship between the two buildings. However I can testify to it's existence and an off-shooting branch heading in the direction of the Hanbury wharf. In the late '70's / early '80's I accompanied my Father and Grandfather (Terance and Cecil Gomer Davies) to the Cellar of the Bull where we took out and replaced the stone blocking the entrance of the tunnel - my Grandfather having taken over Bill Hutchins Building business. Being small and curious I ventured inside, much to the concern of my paternal guardians!"

"The entrance to the tunnel from the Bull is on the right hand side (looking from the entrance end of the cellar, about a metre up the wall). The stone blocking lies some distance into the tunnel, but less than a Metre, and is quite rough, (as I insisted on being the one to place the stones back in, and I wasn't very old at the time). At least that is an accurate description of it as I recall. The last time I took someone down there (with permission) for a look was in the early 1990's."


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