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The Castle Mound Caerleon

This photo showing the Castle Mound inside the Mynde comes from the 1933 publication The Vale Of Usk, Official Guide. Caerleon, like the best bit of a meal, is saved as the last tasty treat in the leaflet. The description begins:

"To the lover of the legend, the student of history and antiquities, also to those who appreciate scenic beauty, this fine old historical Township makes its appeal. Delightfully situated on the right bank of the Usk, well below its tidal limits, three miles from Newport, Caerleon still maintains its old-world appearance. Viewed from any point of the surrounding hills a pleasing spectacle is afforded to all who have an eye for pastoral beauty, whilst from points of the "Olde Citie" itself, the traveller has unfolded before her or him, miles of mountains, wooded valley and river scenery."

...and ends:

"Enough has been said in this short article to justify the claim that no visitor to the Vale of Usk should omit a visit to Caerleon from her or his itinerary.
The beauty of its situation as well as the interest caused by its antiquities will amply recompense all who pay a visit, however prolonged, and its excellent health record entitles it to very serious consideration as a residential center."


The photo was taken when the trees did not have such a hold on the man made mound. There are a few interesting features. First, notice the 3 bases of Roman pillars alongside the path that spirals up and around the mound. These were uncovered during excavations in the 19th century. (Follow this link for a full description and more pictures.) Also facing us in the centre of the mound you can see an entrance. What a story there is behind this! The then owner of the mound (in 1878) had a tunnel driven in to its centre to find out more of its history and, he said at the time, to dispel local stories that King Arthur was lying in there waiting for a call to save Britain once again! You can read more about this, including the full text of his report, by following this link.

The photograph shows such a resemblance to a sketch made of the area by Maybery for the owner of the Mynde in the early 1930s that we are pretty confident he used it as the basis for this work. To see the unusual Christmas Card bearing this picture Atwood Thorne distributed to his friends follow this link.

When was the mound constructed? This is still open to debate. It definitely was part of the old Norman Castle, but may be older, Roman or possibly even pre-Roman. It offers an excellent view up the Usk Valley where there is at least one other such mound (alongside the Bulmore Road). Some locals believe it may have been connected with observation of sunrise at different times of year.

It's good to have a mystery in the heart of the town!

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