Roman Altar Stone

Contributed by Swansea Museum

The Romans built an auxiliary fort called Leucarum to guard the lowest crossing point of the river Loughor about eight miles north-west of Swansea. This pagan altar stone is from there. The sandstone altar would have stood in the open air, the depression in the top would have been used for burning sacrifices. In the 1850's the altar was discovered in the Rectory garden at Loughor, this was an important clue to finding the exact location of the Roman fort. It was used as the step of a stile in the Rectory hedge and later, as a birdbath ! In 1951 it was brought to Swansea Museum for safe-keeping. Along the upright edge of the altar stone is some Ogham script, which was a form of writing used in Ireland from about 400 to 700 A.D., so this writing must have been carved on the stone after the Romans left Britain. The letters are formed by groups of straight lines which are read from the bottom to the top. The inscription on this stone may read L ....LICA, meaning 'Stone of..' , or possibly GRAVICA, which was an Irish name, which may indicate a re-using of the stone as a memorial in the fifth or early sixth century.

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