Roman Garden Opens At National Roman Legion Museum

By Louise Adcock | 24 September 2008
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a photograph of a garden with neatly laid out plots

The new Roman Garden at the National Roman Legion Museum. © Amgueddfa Cymru

A Roman-style garden opens today, September 24 2008, at The National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, South-East Wales. The museum has recreated the Roman garden as a fresh attraction for the site that will compliment the military components of the 2000-year-old stronghold.

The fortress at Caerleon was built in AD 75 allowing the Romans to protect one of their furthest flung outposts, Wales, and the new garden offers a glimpse into the horticultural habits of the Romans whilst introducing their influence upon our gardens today.

Romans were among of the first to use their gardens as a place of relaxation and decoration and this has been drawn upon for the recreated garden.

a photograph of a woman hoeing a garden

One of the Museum staff, Abigail Kenvyn, who's been helping to create the garden. © Amgueddfa Cymru

“We’ve used archaeological remains and research to interpret a Roman Garden,” explained Andrew Dixey, Estates Manager at The National Museum Wales. “The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD and brought their gardens designs with them. We’ve tried to recreate what a Roman garden could have looked like.”

The garden features box hedges, bay trees and vines to offer a taste of how the Romans may have lived.

Whilst the Roman gardens visually modernised the use of outdoor space, they also introduced techniques and plant species that are still around today. Techniques such as springtime planting and composting have both been attributed to the Romans; whilst the introduction of the domestic version of the Welsh wild leek went on to become the Welsh national emblem!

a photograph of roman pillars with vines leaves and a Roman plant pot in the foreground

© Amgueddfa Cymru

“The Roman garden enhances our interpretation of Roman Caerleon and is a special addition because it’s Museum staff and volunteers who’ve actually researched and created it,” added Bethan Lewis, the manager of The National Roman Legion Museum.

“We currently attract about 70.000 people a year and look forward to welcoming new visitors wanting gardening tips from the Romans.”

The garden replicates the Romans’ use of vegetables, fruit and herbs like rosemary, thyme and mint. It is a setting that places a range of recognisable plants alongside the more unusual, including the black and white Horehound.

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