Initially situated on the Afon Fflur two miles away from the present site, the remains of Strata Florida Abbey are now situated on the banks of the River Teifi about a mile South East of Pontrhydfendigaid.
After its founding in 1164, building was begun at the present site in 1184, and the abbey was consecrated in 1201. Some of the stone used in its construction was shipped from as far as Somerset, landing in Wales at the small port of Aberarth.
In the years after its construction it became an important regional centre for scholarship, politics, and agriculture. The monks cleared and improved land keeping herds of sheep and establishing a prosperous business in wool exportation in the early 13th Century, having a significant influence on the whole local economy and landscape.
It was an important political meeting place and several welsh princes (particularly from the house of Deheubarth) are buried here, as (it is said) is the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, a memorial to whom can be found under a yew tree in the adjacent graveyard.
The abbey was damaged by lightning in 1285, and harmed further in the campaigns of Edward I against the Welsh. It was occupied by the military during Owain Glyndwr’s war of independence, and was finally dissolved in the reformations of the 1540s.
It is now comprised of a group of ruins with several interesting and well preserved elements that suggest the former scale and magnificence of the abbey. The most striking of these is the west doorway: a beautifully carved archway that would have been the entrance to the church. The completion of this entrance in 1220 marked the end of the main period of building here. A floor made up of intricate 14th century patterned tiles is protected under a modern roof, and other artefacts can be seen in a small indoor exhibition on the site (seasonal opening).
The site is managed by CADW:
1st of April – 30th September (10am-5pm). Admission charges apply.
All other times 10am- 4pm with free entrance.
For more information on the abbey see: www.castlewales.com/strata
1) There are several nice walking loops that can be made around Strata Florida. For one that takes in a stretch of the Teifi on its way towards Pontrhydfendigaid, park at the abbey. At the last bend in the road before the abbey, a side road continues off to the left. Return from the abbey to this road – the footpath start is marked and begins a few metres from the corner of the graveyard. The path ascends the hill opposite the abbey and passes by the interesting buildings of a disused tin mine. Above the mine the path skirts a lovely section of oak forest before descending near Pontrhydfendigaid and returning to the abbey along the still young Teifi. A map is essential as sign-posting is not always good. 5 ½ km (3 ½ miles) (approx. 1 ½ hrs). Variations to the route are possible.
2) The circular walk around the Teifi Pools (see previous section) can be joined at its southern edge by heading up the valley from Strata Florida for approximately 2 ¼ km (1 ½ miles).
Location (grid ref. and general): SN746657
The abbey: mainly even grassy surfaces.
The walks: include styles, gates, and fields.
Bus: Service to Pontrhydfendigaid is limited.
For days and times see: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=483
Parking: Car Park at Abbey, and at the road side.
Facilities: Small exhibition with artefacts. Information boards, toilet and shop (seasonal).