Monmouth had one of the earliest Roman garrisons in South Wales and a wealth of artefacts including pottery, glass and armour has been unearthed from numerous cremations. There is evidence of a Celtic settlement, largely destroyed during the Norman occupation and the foundation of the modern town plan.
William Camden (1551-1623) was the first to record a link between the Romans and Usk (Monmouthshire) - identifying it as the site of Burrium. However it was not until the late 1960s that an early legionary fortress was discovered beneath the southern half of the town.
It was built in about AD55, probably by the Twentieth Legion, as a base for the conquest of south Wales and was located to control routes south to the coastal plane and north to the hills of Brecknockshire.
The fortress covered an area of 19.5ha (48 acres) and was defended by an outer V-shaped ditch, and a clay and turf rampart faced with timber. This had a walkway on top, wooden towers at intervals and a gateway on each side.
Reconstruction of the East Gate, Usk (by Martin Dugdale).
Built of timber, as was all the fort, it consisted of twin towers flanking a double carriageway, linked by a walkway above the road.
Large-scale excavations between 1965 and 1976 revealed two groups of granaries - used to store the provisions necessary to feed the large invasion force - a workshop and part of an officer's house, all built of wood. More recent work suggests that an auxiliary cavalry regiment (known as an ala) may also have been stationed with the legion.
Reconstruction of the three large granaries at Usk (by Martin Dugdale).
The floors of these buildings were raised clear above the ground to prevent damp and vermin reaching the grain and other food stored inside.
THE NAVAL TEMPLE - KYMIN HILL Designed to perpetuate the memory of many victorious admirals, construction began in 1800 with the foundation stone being laid on the second anniversary of the Battle of the Nile. A painting of the battle originally decorated the arch and the monument was guarded by four guns and surmounted by the figure of Britannia. Property of The National Trust.
HABERDASHERS' MONMOUTH SCHOOLS
The "free grammar school for boys" was built at Monmouth in 1615 at the bequest of William Jones who was born either in the town or in the nearby village of Newland, and who became, by today's terms, a millionaire: his generosity provided education for poor boys in Latin, Greek and religious instruction. The Haberdasher's Company, of which William Jones was a liveryman, also run the century-old Schools for Girls.
Chapel House is a boarding house for Monmouth School. Dating from the 1700s.
The Building covered about an acre and had the appearance of a castellated mediaeval fortress housing a chapel, infirmary, living quarters and a treadmill. Public hangings took place here until the 1850's, one of the last being witnessed by some 3,000 people. The gaol was demolished in 1884 and today only the gatehouse remains.