The writers’s view

Caerleon in literature

The place I was taken to, at one month old, was the place in which I should like to have been born; my private and adopted native town, Caerleon-upon-Usk. It is a fitting origin for a literary man, especially a poet, to see against his name in Who’s Who…It’s as rich in romance as a novel by Jeffrey Farnol…

I was often with the other children of Ashwell Terrace, playing, but what I liked doing most of all was standing at the door of our cottage in the hot sunshine – it was always sunny in Caerleon – watching for the two big events of the day. The first was the arrival of the baker’s cart at about eleven o’clock in the morning…The other big moment was the passing of the cows…for milking

The Railway Game, An Early Autobiography by the poet
Clifford Dyment, published 1962 by J M Dent

[King Arthur decided] to summon to that feast all the kings and princes which he had made subject to him…and decided to hold that feast in Caerleon-on-Usk in Glamorgan. For that was the fairest place in Britain and the richest…to be compared with Rome for the beauty of its houses, its wealth and its dignity…And in that day Caerleon was adorned with 200 schools with teachers of numerous arts.

Dingestow Chronicle (13thC) tr. D M Lloyd

Caerleon today is having a hard task to retain its ancient reputation for mystery and high romance. The suburbs of Newport creep nearer every year and the traffic thunders through the streets in what seems to be a one-way racing circuit…Yet, for all that, Caerleon still reminds us at every turn of its two great claims to fame – its associations with the Romans and King Arthur.

Alun Llewellyn
 The Shell Guide to Wales 1969

I shall always esteem it the greatest piece of fortune that has fallen to me that I was born in that noble, fallen Caerleon-on-Usk in the heart of Gwent…When my eyes were first opened in early childhood they had before them the vision of an enchanted land.
Autobiography Arthur Machen (1863-1947)

Newport…stands some miles below Caerllion ar Wysg and was probably built when that place, at one time one of the most considerable towns in Britain, began to fall into decay…Wysg or Usk is an ancient British word, signifying water, and is the same as the Irish word uisge or whisky, for whisky, though generally serving to denote a spirituous liquor, in great vogue amongst the Irish, means simply water.

Wild WalesGeorge Borrow (1803-1881)

We then pursued our journey thro’ a beautiful country, with fine views of…the meandering River Usk and of the town of Caerleon in the vale; to a survey of which we were recommended, as abundant of Roman antiquities and the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, which when Mr Osborn enquir’d for, he received the answer ‘That they knew no such person’.

Rides Round Britain John Byng (1743-1813)

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