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Chance to see latest Strata Florida archaeology discoveries at open day

A COMMUNITY open day is being held by The Strata Florida Trust on Saturday, July 13 when visitors can talk to archaeologists, tour excavations and see the latest finds from the site in the Cambrian Mountains.

The trust’s annual archaeology field school at Strata Florida, a former Cistercian abbey at Ystrad Meurig, near Pontrhydfendigaid, ends at the weekend. Archaeologists are excited to have uncovered more of the courtyard following last year’s early radiocarbon dating results.

There’s still plenty of ways for people to get involved over the last week of the excavations, including the open day, from 11am to 3pm.

In addition to tours of the excavations, there will also be a range of children’s activities, homemade cakes and refreshments and a performance by Choirs for Good at 1.30pm. No booking is required.

Each year, the field school is run as a training dig, with participants travelling from across the world to learn excavation skills at the significant and iconic site. This year, participants have travelled from as far as Australia, the United States and Sweden.

Over the past five years, the field school’s excavations have focused on the courtyard of Mynachlog Fawr farm buildings which stand next door to the abbey and are being refurbished by the trust.

These excavations have revealed structures and features under the courtyard, including a major aqueduct and medieval buildings which once formed part of the abbey.

Following last year’s field school, three charcoal samples were collected from the medieval buildings and sent to specialists for radiocarbon dating. The samples provided dates between 1166-1268 AD, 1028-1172 AD and, most intriguingly, 1017-1158 AD.

“The last two of these dates are from the earlier building and, given that the Cistercian abbey was not founded on this site until 1184, they seem to suggest that it is pre-Cistercian in date,” said Carys Aldous-Hughes, trust director.

Jennifer Guthrie from Kentucky, a field school participant, said: “ I came here to learn skills and my expectations have been so far surpassed. Wales has been amazing and everyone has been so kind and helpful.”

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Strata Florida Trust is restoring Mynachlog Fawr farmhouse and farm buildings, bringing new economic, social and cultural life to the area, whilst also celebrating abbey’s unique landscape and history. 

A free ‘Mynachlog Fawr Exhibition’ is being held in a building on the site, giving visitors of all ages a chance to explore the social and agricultural history of the house and the local area.

The exhibition also contains an interactive Virtual Histories educational experience, which allows visitors to travel back to see a day in the life of Mynachlog Fawr farm in 1947 and the abbey in 1238.

The trust is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Ceredigion, Powys and Southern Snowdonia. For more information, visit https://www.mwtcymru.co.uk/ .

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