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The Exploration and Excavation of Cistercian Sites in Wales Delivered at the One Hundred and Forty-first Annual Summer Meeting at Caerleon, 1994 By THE Reverend DAVID H. WILLIAMS, M.A., Ph.D., ES.A. It was a great pleasure when I heard that I had been elected your President for the coming year. A pleasure, especially, because I was born but a few miles from this college at what was, in 1933, the Kensington Nursing Home at 11 Kensington Place in Main- dee, Newport. Sixty-one years later I live in Buttington Vicarage in Powys; a house which had hardly been built when in it was born, on Boxing Day, 1837, the future Professor Sir William Boyd Dawkins, F.R.S., Professor of Geology at Manchester, and President of the Cambrians not only in 1911 but also again in 1913. On account of that link I am doubly pleased to stand here as your President. As for myself, in infancy my father's job meant that for three years I lived at a mining camp high up in mountains a day's march from Mount Sinai-whether it was that which led me to embrace the cloth, I cannot say. After the war, I went to Bassaleg School, the other side of Newport, where two teachers, Gwyneth Meara and the late Edward Evans, imbued in me a life- long interest in geography and Welsh history, which laid the foundations for my studies in all things Cistercian. This evening, therefore, I propose to look at an activity in which nineteenth-century Cambrians were very much to the fore; the clearance, recording, and even excavation, of Cistercian sites in Wales, from the first endeavours of the fifth Duke of Beaufort down to the advent of Crown involvement with the guardianship of Tintern Abbey in 1901. This exploration and survey of Cistercian sites dates from no later than the second half of the eighteenth century, and did not fail to benefit from the 'Romantic Movement' which reached its zenith at the close of that period, and about which Jeremy Knight published an interesting booklet some years ago. Monastic ruins received increasing attention from early historians and topographers, as well as from artists and poets. Tour- ists, too, generally from the better classes, played their part. Tintern was in all these respects much to the fore. Visitors came in considerable numbers, many using specially adapted river boats on the Wye to facilitate their progress. Showing them around was perhaps a source of income to the local inhabitants, the meanest of whom lived within the ruins, as the 'poor, old woman' who directed Gilpin (1770) to the cloister at Tintern;2 or the 'old woman, bent nearly double', who showed Barber (1803) around Neath.3 But, by 1787 Tintern Abbey was kept locked and the Duke of Beaufort em- ployed 'a person to show it to strangers'-this was for a time the landlord of the Beaufort Arms.4 Some early visitors to Tintern sought permission to dig and search in