A little way out of Dolgellau, adjacent to Llanelltyd, lie the ruins of an ancient Cistercian abbey. It was a dull, wet & windy day today but since we needed to visit Doll anyway, an educational walk around the abbey seemed in order.
Cymer Abbey was founded by Maredudd ap Cynan in 1198 and populated by monks from Abbey Cwmhir. The monastery was abandoned in the Dissolution of 1536 and today there remains the ruined walls of its main place of worship, a 30m nave:
The architecture is certainly beautiful but also plain, this must have been a hard place to live; records show that the monks lived in poverty for most of the abbey’s life. The foundations of cloister, dining hall & chapter also remain today but it would appear any remaining quarters could only be built from lighter weight materials, leaving little trace today. It is thought that the neighbouring farmhouse may be built around the Abbot’s original house or the guest quarters.
At its height the monks farmed sheep, mined precious metals and kept a stud of high quality horses to supply the local Welsh prince, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (the Great).
Part way through its history a tower was added to the abbey structure, part of this survives today:
The abbey is located at the join between the Wnion & Mawddach rivers and also at the most convenient point to ford the river estuary. So despite its poverty the abbey was on a busy route and may have been visited by passers by, including the Princes of Wales.