Monasteries in Wales

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow. was the first Cistercian foundation in Wales, and only the second in Britain. The present-day remains of Tintern are a mixture of building works covering a 400-year period between 1131 and 1536. Very little of the first buildings still survives today; a few sections of walling are incorporated into later buildings and the two recessed cupboards for b ...
Founded: 1131 | Location: Chepstow, United Kingdom

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory s a partly ruined former Augustinian priory. The priory dates back to around the year 1100, when Norman nobleman Walter de Lacy reputedly came upon a ruined chapel of St. David in this location, and was inspired to devote himself to solitary prayer and study. A church was built on the site, dedicated to St John the Baptist, and consecrated in 1108. By 1118, a group of around 40 monks from England founded ...
Founded: 1118 | Location: Crucorney, United Kingdom

Neath Abbey

Neath Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, located near the present-day town of Neath. It was once the largest abbey in Wales. Substantial ruins can still be seen, and are in the care of Cadw. Neath Abbey was established in 1129 AD when Richard I de Grenville, one of the Twelve Knights of Glamorgan, gave (3,200 ha of his estate in Glamorgan, Wales, to Savigniac monks from western Normandy. The first monks arrived in 1130. F ...
Founded: 1129 | Location: Neath, United Kingdom

Margam Abbey

Margam Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, located in the village of Margam, a suburb of modern Port Talbot. It was founded in 1147 as a daughter house of Clairvaux by Robert, Earl of Gloucester. Early Christian crosses found in the close vicinity and conserved in the nearby Margam Stones Museum suggest the existence of an earlier Celtic monastic community. The founding abbot was William of Clairvaux. The third abbot, Conan ...
Founded: 1147 | Location: Port Talbot, United Kingdom

St Dogmaels Abbey

St Dogmael"s Abbey is named after Dogmael, a 6th-century saint said to have been the son of Ithel ap Ceredig ap Cunedda Wledig, and also reputedly the cousin of Saint David. The abbey was built on or very close to the site of the pre-Norman conquest clas church of Llandudoch. It was founded between 1113 and 1115 for a prior and twelve monks of the Tironensian Order. In 1120 Abbot William of Tiron consented to fitz M ...
Founded: 1113 | Location: St Dogmaels, United Kingdom

Strata Florida Abbey

Strata Florida Abbey was founded in 1164 by the Cambro-Norman Knight Robert FitzStephen. In the 12th century, Cistercian monks from Whitland Abbey, Narbeth, Carmarthenshire started to construct a religious settlement on the banks of the Afon Fflur (from which the present Abbey takes its name), a short distance from the present site. This was at a time of fast expansion of the Cistercian order. The church was consecrated ...
Founded: 1164 | Location: Tregaron, United Kingdom

Talley Abbey

Talley Abbey is a ruined former monastery of the Premonstratensians in the village of Talley in Carmarthenshire, Wales, six miles (10 km) north of the market town of Llandeilo. It lies in the River Cothi valley. Access to the site of the abbey is free, and the site is maintained by Cadw. The monastery was founded by Rhys ap Gruffydd in or about 1185. In common with Strata Florida Abbey, it was once claimed to be the site ...
Founded: 1185 | Location: Llandeilo, United Kingdom

Ewenny Priory

Ewenny Priory was a monastery of the Benedictine order, founded in the 12th century. The priory was unusual in having military-style defences and is widely regarded as one of the finest fortified religious buildings in Britain. Over the centuries the priory has sustained some damage, and following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, was, like many of its kind, converted into a private house, Ewenny Priory House, which is ...
Founded: 1141 | Location: Bridgend, United Kingdom

Caldey Priory

Caldey Priory is on Caldey Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales, some 300 metres south of the modern Caldey Abbey. Sir Robert fitz Martin was granted the island in 1113 and his mother Geva founded the priory as a daughter house of the Tironensian St. Dogmaels Abbey in the 12th century. It was probably built on a preexisting Celtic Christian site, and lasted to the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, although t ...
Founded: 1113 | Location: Tenby, United Kingdom

Haverfordwest Priory

Haverfordwest Priory was a house of Augustinian Canons Regular on the banks of the Western Cleddau. The priory was first mentioned around 1200. At the time of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536–1541), it was acquired by Roger and Thomas Barlow, brothers of William Barlow, bishop of St David"s. From 1983 to 1996, the site (now under control of Cadw) was excavated and the outlines of the buildings ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Haverfordwest, United Kingdom

Pill Priory

Pill Priory is a Tironian house founded near Milford Haven in the late 12th century. It was founded as a daughter house of St Dogmaels Abbey near Cardigan, itself a priory of the Tironensian order of reformed Benedictine monks. The community may always have been small; it was recorded as five monks in 1534 and four in 1536. In 1536 St Dogmaels Abbey and its daughters at Pill and Caldey were dissolved in the suppression o ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Milford Haven, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.