Recent excavations at Bulmore / Celtic Manor Resort

The presence of a Roman settlement at Great Bulmore was first identified when a large masonry building incorporating re-used tombstones was discovered in 1815. Subsequent excavations have demonstrated that there was an extensive settlement, with stone buildings lining either side of the Roman road that linked Caerleon to Usk on the east bank of the river and its own cemeteries separate from those of the fortress. Dating evidence from coins and pottery suggested that the settlement was founded around AD 90 and abandoned around AD 300.

The site lies towards the foot of the steep escarpment overlooking the River Usk and about 2 km upstream from the fortress at Caerleon, on land now owned by the Celtic Manor Resort. The Celtic Manor, with advice from the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, has taken care to design its amenities to protect the archaeology as much as possible. However, the extension to its Wentwood Hills Golf Course required extensive earth-moving to conform to the standards laid down for the Ryder Cup, which will take place there in 2010. The Trust therefore carried out a programme of excavation in 2005 on the areas which were to be affected.

These excavations discovered further evidence of Roman occupation in the area, including masonry buildings, a cremation cemetery and a stone cist burial. Industrial structures, such as a pottery kiln, probable workshop building and a drying kiln, were discovered further up the hillside. The kilns appear to have been used to produce ‘Caerleon Ware’, a good-quality red earthenware pottery, and together with the Abernant kiln, found when the Wentwood Hills Course was first built, these kilns appears to be part of an extensive industrial area on the south slope of the Usk valley above Great Bulmore. More evidence for industrial activity and structural remains of Roman date was discovered buried under alluvial deposits on the floodplain.

Pottery kiln at Wentwood Lakes site, Celtic Manor Resort. Copyright Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust.