Medieval monk's missing tombstone from Rufford Abbey found

The grave slab of Robert de Markham Image copyright Nottinghamshire County Council
Image caption The "elaborate" gravestone of Robert de Markham dates from 1399

A missing tombstone commemorating a medieval monk laid to rest in Nottinghamshire has been rediscovered.

The grave slab of Robert de Markham dates from 1399 and was set in the floor of Rufford Abbey's chapel before its demolition in the 1950s.

Its whereabouts remained unknown until it was tracked down in Bedfordshire.

Archaeologist Peter Ryder identified the missing stonework as part of research into the Southwell and Nottingham Church History Project.

The "elaborate" gravestone was found in one of English Heritage's national collection stores at Wrest Park and is one of 153,000 items in the collection.

Image copyright Nottinghamshire County Council
Image caption Rufford Abbey's chapel was demolished in the 1950's

Mr Ryder said: "It is one of the best medieval grave slabs in the county, and was in the chapel at Rufford until the 1950s, when Professor Lawrence Butler made a rubbing of it.

"It commemorates Brother Robert Markham 'of this monastery' and is dated 1399, although older accounts had misread the date as 1309 or 1329.

"It is definitely the same slab.

"I think the slab has quite a story to tell - for one thing it is unusual for monks to have as elaborate a memorial as this - and it may be connected with him being from an important family."

English Heritage's collections team said it initially assumed the slab was from Bolsover because it had been stored with stones from that area.

Councillor John Knight, committee chairman for culture at Nottinghamshire County Council, said visitors to Rufford Abbey were often fascinated by the era when it was home to Cistercian monks.

"Rufford Abbey has an enthralling history and this story underlines the different periods of history that our wonderful country park has witnessed," he said.

"Rediscovering this tombstone helps us to further understand the country park's past and we'd like to learn more about this monk."

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