Through the centuries
the spelling of Caerleon has seen some twists and turns.
In old documents it is not unusual to see different spellings on
the same page! Having a unique spelling for a word is a relatively
appears in Roman sources as Isca. The commonly held theory
is that the Romans adopted the Old British word isca meaning
water. It would seem, though, that they did not call it
Isca Silurum - see Bob Trett's
discourse on this.
the 9th century it is referred to as Caer Legeion guar Uisc
(on Usk). Guar Uisc was added to distinguish it from the
other Caer Legeion (Chester).
then just about every conceivable spelling has been used. The
place name we are so familiar with arrived at the start of the
1700s. By the middle of that century Caerleon had become
the standard spelling.
are some of the variations I have come across while researching
the history of the area:
Carlion Carleion Karleon Karliun Carleon Carleun Carlyon Carliun
Karliwn Karlywn Karleun Karlyon Kerlyon Kaerlyon Kairlion Kaerlioun
Kaerlion Kaerleon Kerleoun Caerlion Kaerlyun Carlyoun Kaerlyoun
Kirlyon Karluyn Kayrlyon Kaerlyun Karlioun Kerlion Kairlyon Karlyons
Karlheon Kerleon Kayrlion Caerlyon Kayrlyon Kaireleon Caerlion
Kairlion Carlian Carlyon Carelion Carelyon Caerlleon Carlleon
assume that Caer Lleon means Fortress of the Legion
or City of the Legion. However, a Mr Owen made a strong
argument for a different meaning in an appendix to William Coxe's
Historical Tour in Monmouthshire published 1801. He stated
that the Welsh word for legion is lleng which he
said had been used in writing through the ages. If the meaning
were to be Fortress of the Legion he argued that it would
have been named Caer Lleng. He also pointed out that in
the very earliest manuscripts the ending is more often lion
not leon. He argued that Llion meant streams,
torrents or floodings. Thus City of the Flood would
have been an apt name considering the proximity of the River Usk
with its huge rise and fall with the tide and the flooding of
the adjacent low lying land that frequently occurs.
have argued that the name Caer Lleon predates the Roman
period, and that it means Fort of Lleon. Lleon the Mighty
they say was a British King whose base was Lodge Camp ten centuries
before London was built!
might like to visit our antique
maps section. You will find three variations there!