Ancient Monuments

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St Dogmaels Abbey

A Scheduled Monument in St. Dogmaels (Llandudoch), Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

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Latitude: 52.0805 / 52°4'49"N

Longitude: -4.6806 / 4°40'50"W

OS Eastings: 216412

OS Northings: 245847

OS Grid: SN164458

Mapcode National: GBR CY.C5N6

Mapcode Global: VH2MN.TZD0

Entry Name: St Dogmaels Abbey

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2675

Cadw Legacy ID: PE073

Schedule Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Category: Abbey

Period: Medieval

County: Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

Community: St. Dogmaels (Llandudoch)

Built-Up Area: St Dogmaels

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire


The monument consists of an abbey, a Christian monastery under the government of an Abbot, dating to the medieval period. St Dogmael’s was founded by Robert fitz Martin, the Norman lord of Cemais in 1115 as a priory for the Tironensian monastic order, a movement with a simplified liturgy and austere life-style based on the rule of St Benedict. The site is likely to have originated as the celtic church clas (or monastery) of Llandudoch as early Christian inscribed stones now in the parish church are presumed to have belonged to it. Thirteen monks were originally brought from France and within five years St Dogmael’s was made an abbey. The buildings follow the usual claustral layout with the abbey church to the north, the cloister to the south with a west range to house the Abbot’s apartments, the monk’s refectory to the south and the sacristy, vestibule and chapter house to the east.

The church was originally planned to have an aisled nave, transepts with apsidal chapels and a short presbytery with an eastern apse but before it was completed was remodelled in the early 13th century to a simple nave and square-ended presbytery over a crypt. To achieve this arcade of the southern aisle was blocked to become the new nave south wall with the cloister then extended further north to disguise the asymmetry. The monk’s choir lay in the crossing, separated from the nave by a stone screen or pulpitum. In the 14th century, perhaps to repair damage after the Edwardian conquest of Wales, a major rebuilding programme to the church was undertaken. The nave was remodelled with a large west window and fine decorated door. The vaulting in the crypt was rebuilt over capitals with reeded and stiff-leaved foliage decoration. The crypt vaulting rose above the floor of the presbytery so the high alter must have been on a raised floor of some kind, at this time substantial alterations were also saw the cloister and refectory. Later in the 14th century or possibly the 15th a plain tiled pavement was added to the church and the pulpitum strengthened possibly for the insertion of an organ in the gallery above. A final and major series of alterations were carried out in the 16th century when the north transept was extensively modified and given an elaborate vaulted roof with decorated corbels to support the timbers: an angel for St Matthew, a lion for St Mark, the archangel St Michael, an eagle for St John an example of which was found during excavations. Elements of the earlier transept can still be seen, including the piscine on the east. There is the base of a small stone altar against the east wall and there are two tombs recesses in the north east corner. After the Dissolution the church was altered to become the parish church. The rood screen was given a central door and new walls blocked off the west end of the nave to form a porch.

The remaining walls of the cloister date to the 13th century and held arcades to support a timber pent roof over the pavement. The sacristy is fragmentary and lies between the church and the chapter house vestibule. The chapter house was rebuilt in the 14th century at an angle to conform with an infirmary built to the south east which stands to roof level. Little remains of the refectory, and masonry remains to the south west represent a 16th century rector’s house built after the Dissolution which incorporated parts of the kitchen and the abbot’s house. The west range has a projecting west wing built in the 14th century for guest accommodation.

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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