Ancient Monuments

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Cwmhir Abbey

A Scheduled Monument in Abbey Cwmhir (Abaty Cwm-hir), Powys

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Latitude: 52.3297 / 52°19'46"N

Longitude: -3.3874 / 3°23'14"W

OS Eastings: 305548

OS Northings: 271084

OS Grid: SO055710

Mapcode National: GBR 9P.V8NM

Mapcode Global: VH691.7PKX

Entry Name: Cwmhir Abbey

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2578

Cadw Legacy ID: RD012

Schedule Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Category: Abbey

Period: Medieval

County: Powys

Community: Abbey Cwmhir (Abaty Cwm-hir)

Traditional County: Radnorshire


The monument consists of an abbey, which is a Christian monastery or convent under the government of an Abbot, dating to the medieval period. Abbey Cwmhir was a Cistercian abbey, founded as a daughter house of the abbey at Whitland. The first foundation was in 1143 by Maredudd, and was probably at Ty-faenor about a mile to the east of the present site. The abbey was re-founded on the present site by Cadwallon ap Madog of Maeliennydd in 1176, was damaged by Henry III in 1231, and subsequently repaired under Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, when an ambitious rebuilding scheme was put in hand. The plan for a new church with a nave 94m long to accommodate 50-60 monks was however never fully realised, with the blocked western arch of the crossing representing the easternmost limit of construction. By the late 14th century the site was in Mortimer hands, making it a target for a damaging attack by Glyndwr’s forces in 1402. After this it is likely that only the easternmost five bays of the fourteen in the nave remained in regular use; certainly only three monks remained by the time of the Dissolution. The remnants of the nave survive today, reaching a height of c.4.5m in places. The associated monastic buildings to the south of the church were excavated in the 19th century and were much more modest in scale, probably still relating to the earlier plan superseded by the long nave. The monastic buildings passed to the Fowler family at the Dissolution and remained in use until the Civil War, when they were captured by Parliamentarian forces, and subsequently dismantled. An arcade of five arches in the church at Llanidloes is reputed to have come from the north aisle of the abbey church. The ruins of the church were later incorporated into a garden scheme, and the mound to the south-west of the structure may relate to this. The site is said to be the burial place of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of the organisation and practice of medieval Christianity. The site forms an important element within the wider medieval landscape. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of associated archaeological features and deposits. The structure itself may be expected to contain archaeological information concerning chronology and building techniques.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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