the middle of the 19th century John Jenkins, the owner
of the Mynde, made substantial alterations to the grounds. In
the process extensive Roman remains were uncovered. He invited
amateur antiquarian John Lee to study and record the discoveries.
Lee had moved to South Wales from Yorkshire in 1841 to become
a partner in the Dos Nail Works, Newport. He took up residence
in the Priory, Caerleon, which was owned by the Mackworth family.
Both John Lee and Sir Digby Mackworth were keen amateur antiquarians.
It is largely due to their efforts that the 'Monmouthshire and
Caerleon Antiquarian Society' was formed and that the museum was
built (in 1850).
for us Lee worked systematically and made detailed observations,
which included plans of the remains and etchings showing the uncovered
remains and objects found. This was fortunate as it is the only
record we have of the Roman buildings there. (It seems Jenkins
later removed all trace of them.) Lee published his findings in
a pamphlet entitled: "Remains
Of the Roman Villa &c &c In The Castle Grounds Caerleon".
In the preface, dated 3rd November 1849 and written
in The Priory, he states:
(if any) arising from the sale of this pamphlet will be devoted
to the funds of the Museum of Antiquities at Caerleon. To those
who are unacquainted with the neighbourhood, it may be well to
state that a Museum is now in the course of erection in which
nearly all the Antiquities of Caerleon will be deposited. The
building is now covered in but though the sum of about five hundred
pounds has already been collected chiefly in the neighbourhood,
yet this amount has been found insufficient, and in order to complete
the interior so as to exhibit in a proper manner the large number
of antiquities which will be deposited there, a further sum of
about one hundred pounds is necessary. As the immediate neighbourhood
has contributed liberally, the kind assistance of Antiquaries
in general is earnestly requested. Any donation to this object
will be immediately acknowledged by the author and paid over to
the building fund."
The museum was
opened the following year.
was unusual in that all of the soil covering the remains was removed,
leaving the whole site visible. (Digging trenches and deducing
what lay between was, and still is, the usual method employed.)