Following the Emperor Claudius’s invasion in 43 AD, Roman armies fought against the Silures, a fierce Celtic tribe in South Wales, from 49 AD. They took another 30 years to overcome completely.
Usk (Burrium) was established by the Twentieth Legion in about 55 AD as the Romans advanced. It was the main fort in the area until after 65 AD, when the huge military settlement at Caerleon (Isca Silurum) was begun. The eastern part of the fort’s main street (Via Principalis) can still be seen as a footpath between Usk Prison and the Sessions House, leading into Pook Lane and the fields behind.
After the move to Caerleon, the north-western corner of the previous fort stayed in use as an auxiliary fort until around 120 AD.
The Story of Usk - 1066 and all that
After the Romans left Britain around 410 AD, successive waves of invaders occupied most of what is now England – first the Anglo-Saxons, then various Scandinavians in the north-eastern half of the country. Wales remained (relatively) undisturbed and Offa’s Dyke seems evidence of an agreed border between England and Wales.
After 1066, however, the Normans gained rapid control of England and moved swiftly into Wales. Castles were built at strongpoints to dominate the surrounding areas.
The first Norman castle in Usk was probably built between 1071 and 1075 – a simple wooden structure on a Motte (Mound) with a Bailey (palisaded enclosure).
Later, 1160-80, a stone gatehouse/keep was built, nearer the present town.