Caerleon Net

Written account of William Coxe, 1801

In 1801 William Coxe published "An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire". His observations in Caerleon were based on visits over several years. During just this short time he saw parts of the castle remains being dismantled for building-stone.

His writing is very informative. A summary follows, however you can see the full text relating to the castle by clicking here.

This is a section of his map of Caerleon:

f - castle wall

h - castle wall

a - the castle mound (citadel)

e - castle walls

k - tower

d - the 'Gatehouse Tower'

g - castle walls

c - round towers

b - the Hanbury Tower


a on map) - On one visit to Caerleon, Coxe observed massive foundations near the summit of the mound. They were "not less than twenty feet (6m) in depth, ten (3m) in breadth and thirty (10m) in length". Workmen were in the process of separating the stones, which were then sold to a Mr Williams who built a house with them. Residents told Coxe that early in the 18th century the tower walls were not less than forty feet (13m) high and that they had fallen down in "enormous fragments" sometime after severe frosts in 1739.

THE MOUND - Coxe observed the situation, in the side of the mound, where a Roman sarcophagus had been recently discovered. Constructed of large bricks two feet (60cm) square and two inches (5cm) in thickness it measured over six feet (2m) in length. From this he deduced that at least some of the mound had been in place in Roman times.
According to Coxe, the oldest inhabitants remembered dilapidated buildings at the foot of the Mynde (see Lee's findings later) and a flight of stone steps leading up the mound.

TOWERS NEAR THE HANBURY ARMS - He identified the Tower 'near' the Hanbury Arms (
b on map) as part of the castle. (This tower still exists today.) Also two round towers or bastions (c on map) which were "built upon the rocks on the verge of the river".

Illustration from Coxe's book. The caption says "Remains of Castle Works."  These are probably the towers ( c ) mentioned above.
Illustration by S Hooper, 1783. It seems likely that this is the tower mentioned below ( d )

TOWER IN THE STREET LEADING FROM THE BRIDGE- By the time of Coxe's last visit to Caerleon this tower had been taken down. Luckily he recorded its presence and location for us, though not on the map. He said it was situated in the street leading from the bridge and that a public house, called 'The Gatehouse', marked its location. (d on map probably). A groove for a portcullis suggested that this could have been an entrance to the castle. This view, drawn by S Hooper in 1778 and published in 1783, may well show the tower.

CASTLE WALLS (e, f, g and h on map). Coxe indicated four places where the castle walls still stood. Note that the wall at 'e' can still be seen (see present remains - hyperlink).

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