Housed in a converted schoolhouse close to the medieval Margam Abbey church (still in use) the museum’s collection of 30 stones date from the 6th to 17th centuries.
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The site of Margam Abbey was on the line of the Roman post road that ran from Caerleon to Carmarthen, and these milestones first served the Romans using the road. The milestones were then reused as memorials for local chieftains. Most are inscribed in Latin and/or Ogham, an ancient alphabetic system using notches on or across a stem line.
In the collection are sculptured crosses dating from the 9th-11th centuries. These came from the pre-Norman monastery of Margam as well as other early churches nearby. Another collection is of ‘cart-wheel’ crosses with circular radiating heads.
Also found in the museum are 9-10th century disc-headed crosses. One is the Conbelin Cross, characteristic of Glamorgan. The stone has a hunting scene on its base, while its inscription reads 'Conbelin erected this cross for the soul of Ric…'.
Five 13th-14th century grave slabs of abbots are on display and were probably related to the abbey itself. One is the gravestone of Robert, an abbot at Rievaulx in Yorkshire (1201-07). His inscription reads ‘faithful and true, here lies buried Robert, abbot of Rievaulx, to whom God be merciful. Amen.’
One stone is an effigy of a knight lying on his back dressed in chain mail with a long belted surcoat and a pointed shield. A small dragon is at the foot of his shield. There is a collection of 16-17th century gravestones from Margam churchyard.
Margam Stones Museum
In early schoolhouse by Margam Abbey church
Port Talbot, South Wales, Cardiff and Coast
Tel. 0 1639 871 184
Open: April-end Sep, daily, 10.30am-4pm; Oct-March, by prior arrangement by phone
Cadw property; parking
Photo of stone courtesy Cadw
Photos of abbey ruins and church courtesy John Lord Geograph Britain and Ireland