Ryder Cup

Celtic Manor

Celtic Manor Golf Resort Archaeology


Celtic Manor Area 5

Main features:

The tower/mausoleum

Remains of Roman road (RR62a)

The tower/mausoleum (2009)

ST 37660 92277 centre

The remains of a rectangular Roman building were found during construction of the coach park for the Ryder Cup. The building, which was set back 20m uphill from and overlooking the Roman road linking Caerleon to Usk, were found under a 12m diameter spread of local sandstone rubble from the structure itself The greater part of the structure comprised its foundations but there were also short lengths of walling surviving. The building was orientated northwest/southeast and at foundation level, rectangular in shape, but with curved corners at the intersection of the east and west facing foundations with the north facing foundation. In the centre of the north elevation and facing the Roman road was an inset entranceway about 1m wide.

The external dimensions of the building foundations varied from 5.1m in length at the north to 5.7m at the east, with both the south and west sides about 5.3m long. The depth of the foundation was however consistent at 0.5m but the widths varied with the south side, the narrowest, measuring 1m wide, whilst the east, west and north sides were about 1.3m wide. Internally, the single celled room measured about 3m by 3m and if any flooring existed there was now no trace of any likely materials or its bedding. The 0.5m depth of the foundation trench was filled with two courses of interlocked, reused building stone, laid on edge to form a solid base for the superstructure; the lower half of a rotary quern and another worked stone were found in the stone of the southern foundation. The three short sections of walling that survived were laid directly onto a base of large flat sandstones, which capped the foundations. The fair-faced drystone walls were all 0.68m in width and on the south side survived up to three courses high (0.25m). Unfortunately, there was no trace of walling overlying the curved foundations at the north to indicate whether the superstructure corners were also curved.

There were few ceramic finds other than local coarsewares from the area of the structure but fragments of tile possibly indicated that the building was roofed. Other finds from the area included two joining fragments from an inscription found lying face-up in the rubble on the exterior of the southern wall, a military mattock (dolabra) and a sherd of brown glass with yellow marbling from a ribbed bowl.

At present the function of the structure is unknown but possibilities currently being explored include a tower/guardpost with visibility to the legionary fortress at Caerleon to the west and in the opposite direction along the valley toward Usk, that oversaw traffic entering and leaving the environs of the fortress and the Roman settlement of Bulmore, or perhaps a roadside mausoleum.

Immediately outside the entrance to the structure were the remains of a lightly metalled track, traced over a distance of 150m. The track was made-up of compacted brown-pink sandy clay and small sandstone fragments, between 0.1m and 0.25m in depth, deposited directly onto the ground. It seems likely that this track, which was laid broadly parallel to the main road, served the building and possibly branched off the main road possibly to overcome a difference in level of about 4m between the building and the road. However it is not known whether both roads were in use at the same time.

Roman road

A 107m long section of the Usk to Caerleon Roman road was traced between ST 37583 92267 and ST 37679 92314 on the lower slopes of the Wentwood ridge and on the southern side of the river Usk. The northeast/southwest aligned road did not follow the contours of the field but headed in a straight line on a bearing of 63 degrees with a fall in height to the west of 2.5m.

The road width varied from 3m to 5m and the surviving foundation course which was up to 0.1m in depth, was made up of a layer of compacted small cobbles with isolated larger cobbles, set directly onto the natural subsoil. The road was generally laid to a horizontal formation and where necessary terraced into the hillside but in places followed the general sloping trend of the hillside; there were no side drains.