Monastic Wales.

Remnants of St Dogmaels Abbey

There are substantial remains of the abbey church and conventual buildings which are now in the care of Cadw. The ruins date from the twelfth century. The church which stands beside the medieval abbey is a much later building and dates to the Victorian era.

The foundations for most of the monastic church survive; the north and west walls are upstanding, as well as the impressive north transept (an early sixteenth-century rebuilding). A small thirteenth-century crypt with a vaulted roof lay beneath the presbytery in the east end of the church and is quite exceptional for a Welsh monastic church; it perhaps housed the relics of St Dogmael. These remnants reveal that the medieval church was cruciform in design. The presbytery in the east was divided from the nave by a pulpitum which had a central doorway; the base of the stair which led to the pulpitum survives. Rather unusually there was no entrance to the church in the west and visitors would have accessed the nave through the north door. The monks entered through a door on the south that connected the church to the cloister. Floor tiles in the nave seemingly date from the fifteenth century; prior to that the floor would have been flagged. The monks’ choir occupied the crossing. A grave slab in the centre of the floor allegedly belongs to the abbey’s founder.

The conventual buildings stood to the south of the church. The east range was two-storeys high with the dormitory on the upper level and the sacristy and chapter-house below. The monks' infirmary lay beyond the east range and was built in the late thirteenth century. It was evidently a fine building. Medieval remnants on the southern range include the doorway to the refectory and remains of the washing-trough and what may have been the warming house. The west range dates from the twelfth century and is the best-preserved part of the site. There are remains of the undercroft that was used as a cellar and the abbot’s quarters above. To the west of this range was the abbey guest house that was built in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. [1]

[1] J. B. Hilling, Cilgerran castle, St Dogmaels Abbey, Cadw Guide (Cardiff, 1992), pp. 38-46; Coflein database; Cooper, Abbeys and Priories, p. 78.

Monastic sites related to this article

St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire(Abbey)