We have been reflecting on what makes a good guidebook to a site. My shelves have strategically situated Department of the Environment ‘Official Guidebooks’ in their standard blue covers. The one for Caerleon states “Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre and Barrack Buildings, Monmouthshire”. There is a parallel title in Welsh, “Theatr Gron Rufeinig Caerllion a Llety’r Milwyr, Sir Fynwy”. The cost was 10p.
The text is authoritative, penned by Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Dr V.E. Nash Williams. The guide is divided into sections: ‘Caerleon in legend and history’, ‘The amphitheatre’, ‘The Prysg field barrack-buildings’, and ‘Caerllion’ (in Welsh). There are few photographs (one of the barracks, the amphitheatre, ovens in the corner of the fort), a double page reconstruction of the amphitheatre, and two large fold-out plans in the back.
The tone is academic, and was probably not very practical. But it was a solid text to consider after the visit.