In 1878, an inscribed Roman era stone, known as the 'Goldcliff Stone', was discovered near the sea wall at Goldcliff.
The inscription on the small limestone block reads “COH I, C STATORI, M…XIMI, P X…XIII S”, which has been translated as “From the first cohort of Statorius Maximus (built) 33 1/2 paces…”. It probably records either the building of a section of seawall or a drainage ditch by Roman soldiers of the first Cohort of the Second Augustan Legion based at Caerleon, lead by Centurion Statorius Maximus.
In 43 CE, the Romans invaded Britain. By 48 CE the legions had reached the border of Wales and began subjugating the Welsh tribes.
In 75 CE, after a difficult campaign, the dominant tribe in South Wales, the Silures, were defeated by the Roman general Julius Frontinus. To cement their control of the region, the Romans built a fortress at Isca (modern day Caerleon), one of only three permanent legionary camps in Britain. The fortress was home to 5000 soldiers and contained barracks, workshops, granaries, bath houses, a harbour and a large ampitheatre.
The fortress was the headquarters of the 2nd Augustan Legion and was in use for almost 300 years, until about 375 CE, when it was abandoned as a military base. At about this time, the legion was transferred to Richborough in Kent to protect the coast from Saxon raiders.
Sometime around 100 CE, the Romans began to enclose and drain the Levels, probably to create year-round grazing for cattle and their cavalry horses on the lush, wet grasslands. Roman military engineers built embankments along the shoreline, linking areas of higher ground, and created a network of ditches to drain the land. At this time, the sea wall was probably not one continuous feature but a series of low embankments protecting sections of the Levels.
It was common practice for Roman soldiers to record their building efforts by inscribing a stone, called a centurial stone, which would be placed next to (or in the case of a building, in) their construction. The Goldcliff Stone is thought to date from the late 2nd or early 3rd century.
Passus XXXIII Semis
- Goldcliff Stone inscription