Print of Caerleon's
first museum by James Flewitt Mullock (1818-1892).
Until the mid 1800s
many local finds were sold to visitors and collectors. In 1850 Caerleon's
first museum was opened thanks to the efforts of several local antiquarians
under the guidance of John Lee, an industrialist who moved to the area
to work at the Dos Works, Newport. Finds were turning up fast and furious
at this time - many being made by John Jenkins who was excavating/levelling
the grounds inside the Mynde (for
more details follow this link).
At first it was
proposed that the museum be built in the 'square' near the Bull in High
Street. The site was at that time occupied by Caerleon's market house.
This had been in a ruinous state for many years. William Coxe described
the building in his book An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire published
in 1801 and marked its location on a plan of the town [ text
] [ plan ]. Residents and traders around
the square protested and the position further along High Street was
settled on. The market house was demolished and some of the reclaimed
stone was used for the new museum. The old columns, thought to be of
Roman origin, were employed in the basement to support the ground floor.
(For a drawing of the Market Hall and a photo of the columns follow
In 1987 the new
Roman Legionary Museum was opened on the same site. The only part of
the old museum to survive was the façade. The old columns from
the basement have since been tansported to the National Museum
Collection Centre in Nantgarw for conservation and storage. It is hoped
it will not be too long before they return to Caerleon to be used in
an imaginitive way to match their age and interesting history.