Ysbyty Cynfyn

Ysbyty Cynfyn was a hospital of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It is located along the pilgrim road to St. David’s and, later in history, to Strata Florida Abbey. It consists today of a church, dedicated to St John, situated within a wall that incorporates ancient standing stones. This is one of three standing stones built into the churchyard wall. Their presence indicates that the medieval church may have been built over a pagan site. The fact that the churchyard is circular is a further indication that worship has taken place here for possibly thousands of years. On the other side of the Rheidol gorge (accessed by a stiff hike, not for the faint of heart!) are the remains of a bronze age burial mound that has eroded away to reveal the stone circle Read more…

Basingwerk Abbey

In 1132, King Madog of Powys brought an order of Benedictine monks to Teigengl, a cantref in Northeast Wales. They settled first at Hen Blas, a former llys of the Princes of Gwynedd, before moving in 1157 to the current location of Basingwerk Abbey. Surviving ruins, which are extensive, include the 12th century chapter house, which is the oldest part of the abbey, a dormitory, the dining hall with its own through to the kitchen, and the outline of the cloister. The church itself is also a significant ruin. The area around Basingwerk was fought over by the kings of Gwynedd and Powys for decades, if not centuries. Particularly after the arrival of the Normans, King Madog of Powys often allied with Earl Ranulf of Chester against King Owain Gwynedd in their contest for control of northeastern Wales. By 1147 Read more…

Wiston Castle

Wiston Castle is located in the Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth, in South Wales. It’s one of the best-preserved motte and bailey castles in Wales, built by an early Flemish settler to Deheubarth with the exceptional name of Wizo. (a motte is a small hill, usually fortified, surrounded by an open area, or bailey, inside an outer wall). Wiston Castle first appears in documents in 1147 when it was attacked by the Welsh, in an attempt to evict the Flemish from Wales. Flemish settlers and fighting men had been brought in by Henry I, actually to counter one of his own barons, Arnaulf de Montgomery. They stayed to be a countering force to the Welsh in the region. Wizo seems to have chosen an existing Iron Age settlement as the basis for his castle. The motte was thrown up across the bank Read more…