Venta Silurum (Caerwent) Temple

Temple Or Shrine

Close to the basilica of Caerwent is the substantial remain of a temple complex built in about AD 330 – which was relatively late in the life of Caerwent town. The temple would have been entered through a long hall facing the street through a raised porch. It had a passage leading onto a sacred courtyard enclosure. From the courtyard you pass to a walkway or ambulatory around a square inner sanctuary, the most sacred part of the site, with a niche at the rear for sacred objects and statues. The temple was located within a sacred courtyard enclosure. The worshipers would have stood.

Located in a temenos beside the forum. This square temple has an “eccentric” apse on the north wall of the cella and buttresses on the outer portico walls which may be an indication of some height to the building, but it is essentially a temple of the Romano-British type. The outer portico measured c.46 x 43 ft. and the cella c.24½ x 23 ft., with all walls a uniform thickness of c.2 ft. The temple faced south. (Type Ic or Id)

There are indications that an earlier shrine was associated with the temenos while a Romanised “temple” was later built on the same site, post 265AD.  We do not know what deity or deities were worshipped here.  Although in this time period Christianity was nominally the official religion of the Roman Empire the temple was probably not related to Christian worship.

The phase 2 additions to the temple were a range of five rooms added to the inner side of the entrance hall and two half domed niches either side of the temple porch (see plan). The niches were probably designed to hold statuary.

The temple was kept in good repair until the late forth century.

Excavations of Venta Silurum (Caerwent) Temple

The temple was first excavated in 1908 and recently in 1984 and 1991. A finger-ring with a glass cameo in the form of an infants head  was found during the excavation.

Plan of Venta Silurum (Caerwent) Temple

Venta Silurum (Caerwent) Temple