Newport has been a port since medieval times, when the first Newport Castle was built by the Normans.
The town outgrew the earlier Roman town of Caerleon, immediately upstream, and gained its first charter in 1314. It grew significantly in the 19th century, when its port became the focus of coal exports from the eastern valleys of South Wales. Until the rise of Cardiff from the 1850s, Newport was Wales' largest coal-exporting port. It was the site of the last large-scale armed insurrection in Britain, the Newport Rising of 1839 led by the Chartists.