Carmarthen Roman Amphitheatre
Carmarthen Roman Amphitheatre
Carmarthen was a Roman "civitas" or tribal town of the Demetae tribe. The Romans established a presence here in 75 AD with a military fort, but the civitas soon grew to include an amphitheatre, the remains of which are still visible.
The first Roman fort may have replaced an earlier hill-fort atop Merlin's Hill. The association with Merlin is just part of Carmarthen's early mythology; according to some stories Merlin the magician was born in a cave just outside of Carmarthen. The fort was occupied until around 120 AD when the focus shifted to the civilian vicus, or town. Most of the Roman sites lie under the streets of modern Carmarthen. Find include a ditch and bank around the town, and the remains of a late 1st century Romano-British temple.

The amphitheatre is the most westerly in the Roman Empire and is one of only 7 remaining in Britain. It is the only example of Roman Carmarthen to be visible today.

The inner seating area, called the 'cavea' is 46m x 27m and would originally have had wooden benches for spectators. It is now turf covered and slopes down to the reconstructed wall of the arena.

What happened here? The amphitheatre would have been used for a variety of spectator sports, from gladiatorial combats to public executions and contests between beasts and humans. Less bloodthirsty entertainments would have included civic and military parades and celebrations of religious holy days. It is worth noting that the amphitheatre would not only have been used by the residents of the Roman civitas, but by the neighbouring Celtic Demetae tribe.

Objects found during excavations at the amphitheatre and at other Roman sites around the town can be seen at the Carmarthenshire County Museum at Abergwilli.

Getting There
The amphitheatre is off Priory Street. From the St Peters car park head east for 300 metres and you'll find the amphitheatre on your left. There is not much in the way of information, so you are really left to use your imagination to picture what the amphitheatre would have looked like in the Roman period.