By Janet Burton, Karen Stöber

This quantity is a entire, richly illustrated consultant to the non secular homes of Wales from the 12th throughout the 16th centuries. It bargains an intensive advent to the heritage of monastic orders in Wales, together with the Benedictines, Cluniacs, Cistercians, and so on moreover, it offers designated debts of virtually sixty communes of non secular women and men. Descriptions of the extant continues to be of the constructions, in addition to maps, floor plans, and traveller info make this not only a piece of scholarship, yet an essential advisor for pilgrims to boot.

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An example for the latter is the ancient island site on which the Augustinian priory of Bardsey came to be erected in the thirteenth century, where ‘a vast number’ of saints were said to lie buried. The presence of a saint, or of his or her relics, or even the mere association of a place with a saint, was potentially very beneficial for a religious community as, on the one hand, it greatly enhanced its religious significance and prestige, indicating continuity, and on the other it created the possibility of turning a monastery or a church into a profitable pilgrimage site.

This was also of considerable interest to Abergavenny’s patron (since a poorly run monastery might reflect badly on a patron) and to local churchmen. John de Hastings, the priory’s patron, took action when in 1319 he discovered things that troubled him. So concerned was he that he requested Pope John XXII to instigate reform at the priory. And so the following year Bishop Adam de Orleton of Hereford was appointed to conduct a visitation. On his arrival, accompanied by the bishop of Llandaff and other clergy, Bishop Adam summoned the prior and monks to appear before him for questioning.

The church lay at the heart of a monastic complex and as the locus for communal worship, the Opus Dei or work of God, it was the most important building. Churches were generally cruciform, or cross-shaped, and the monks’ choir generally lay under the crossing (where the long and shorter arms of the cross intersect) and in the easternmost bays of the nave. The nave itself would have been used by visitors or by parishioners where the nave had a parochial function, and, in Cistercian churches, by the conversi.

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