A Welsh Icon in a
Strata Florida is an enchanting spot in the western heartlands of Wales among the folds of the Cambrian Mountains. A once a great Cistercian monastery in a landscape of immense spiritual importance to the Welsh people for a thousand years.
about strata florida...
What it is
The conserved ruins of the old Abbey church and part of the cloisters are in the care of Cadw, the Welsh Government's heritage agency, and can be visited by the public from Easter to late autumn. In fact, these remains are only a small fraction of what was once a much larger Abbey stretching over an area of 126 acres where the rest survives below ground as a well-preserved archaeology.
The Strata Florida Trust has bought the complex of historic farm buildings, called Mynachlog Fawr or Great Abbey, which lie immediately to the south of the monument. This includes a house which was once the home of the gentry family, the Stedmans, who owned the Abbey site after the Dissolution of 1539. Later it became a farm run by the Arch family.
All these lie in a fascinating historic landscape which contains the vast remains of human activity including the work of the Abbey monks themselves. There are footpaths and heritage walks which take the visitor out into woodland, along riversides, up mountains and onto the edge of the great bog of Cors Caron.
Where it is
The ruins of the Abbey lie just to the east of the village of Pontrhydfendigaid, near Tregaron in Ceredigion, and on the western edge of the Cambrian Mountains in mid Wales.
Post code: SY25 6ES. OS grid reference: SN 7467 6569.
When was it
A brief history tells us that it was once a great Cistercian monastery in a landscape of immense spiritual importance to the Welsh people for a thousand years. A longer history shows that the narratives stretch back deep into prehistory and continue as a story of Welsh estates and farming communities right up to the present day.
The Cistercians chose the place to worship and contemplate God because of its solitude and isolation in a beautiful enclosed valley in the fold of the Cambrian Mountains. It was also a particularly sacred piece of landscape chosen since the Bronze Age as a place of special veneration and it is probable that there was a monastery here in the centuries before the Cistercians. It is still a place with palpable spiritual presence.
Here the Cistercians worked hard on the practical business of improving the land for agriculture as well as exploiting the huge mineral wealth of the mountains. Traces of this lie all around the site, including the woodland planted by the monks themselves. Perhaps, though, their most enduring legacy was the immense part they played in immortalising on vellum and in the Welsh language the ancient culture of Wales, its myths, traditions, history and literature.
What are we doing now?
In partnership with the Prince's Foundation, the Trust is conserving the buildings and turning them into long-term use as a visitor, education, research and retreat Center. The Strata Florida is also a vast store of archaeological remains throughout its landscapes. The Strata Florida Research Project has been exploring this wonderful archive through survey, excavation and document study. This will continue with Strata Florida Summer School where you can join and help us reclaim an even richer history.