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John Lee's Excavations Within The Castle Grounds,
published 1850

John Lee moved to South Wales from Yorkshire in 1841 to become a partner in the Dos Nail Works, Newport. He took up residence in the Priory, Caerleon, which was owned by the Mackworth family. Both John Lee and Sir Digby Mackworth were keen amateur antiquarians - and they started systematically recording the (mainly Roman) local findings. It is largely due to their efforts that the 'Monmouthshire and Caerleon Antiquarian Society' was formed and that the museum was built (in 1850).

Lee was given the opportunity to carry out excavations within the castle grounds when the owner, Mr John Jenkins, removed "the heap of earth" which had for so many centuries covered the ruins there. He was mainly interested in the Roman remains, but observed and recorded the medieval finds as well.

Lee observed that little remained of the castle - due to the "ravages of war " and the efforts of the locals using the ruins as a quarry, "which supplied the materials for a large portion of the present buildings". The red markings on this plan indicate medieval remains.

At the foot of the mound he uncovered the foundations of two round towers and a square stone just before them. These are almost certainly the remains of the 'dilapidated buildings' locals had described to Coxe fifty years before - a gateway guarding the steps up the mound. It seems likely that there was a drawbridge over a surrounding moat. The square area of stone may have been part of the structure.

Approximately two hundred and twenty feet (70m) to the south west of these towers Lee discovered the foundations of a round medieval tower.

Lee considered it likely that the castle was originally very large and formed an extension of the old Roman Walls rather than being a separate building outside them.

The engraving from Lee's publication shows the two towers at the foot of the mound. Roman remains in the foreground.

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