The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological
Trust Historic Environment Record
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LLANTHONY PRIORY (LLANTHONY PRIMA)
Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 01720g Trust : Glamorgan Gwent Community : Crucorney Unitary authority : Monmouthshire NGR : SO28852785 Site Type (preferred type first) : Medieval Priory Status : Scheduled Monument , listed building I
Summary : The community which became Llanthony Priory was founded at the very end of the 11th century, and soon adopted the Augustinian rule. Following a period in 12th century during which most of the canons left to form a second community near Gloucester, the community was re-established, and there was major rebuilding at the end of 12th century. Dissolved in 1538.
Traces of structures were found during groundworks, as were fragments, stone field drains and pieces of iron slag (Bates 1997).
Description : A conventual priory. Community founded at the very end of the 11th century by William, a former knight of Hugh de Lacy, with a few companions; joined in 1103 by a hermit Ernisius. Church consecrated in 1108; community adopted Augustinian rule the following year, but was probably not fully established before 1118 (Cowley 1977, 30). Evans 2003: GGAT 73 Early-Medieval Ecclesiastical Sites Project database
Excavation here has failed to find any evidence for earlier occupation (Evans 1985) and, although it is just possible that William chose a site that already had eremitical associations, it was never a clas (Evans 2009).
When the community adopted the Augustinian rule, canons came from other Augustinian houses in England to swell the numbers.
The priory was attacked by the Welsh in 1135, leading to the creation of a second house, known as Llanthony Secunda, near Gloucester, although Llanthony Prima seems still to have retained a small group of canons. During the period 1205-1213, following an upturn in the fortunes of Llanthony Prima, the properties of the joint community were formally divided between Prima and Secunda. Llanthony Prima seems to have been back up to, and probably over, the minimum required number of canons by the middle of the 13th century, but recruitment seems to have been still from the Anglo-Norman community (Cowley 1977).
The priory's fortunes declined in 15th century; it was merged again with Secunda in 1481, and both houses were supressed in 1538.
The original buildings were replaced at the end of the 12th century in a building campaign that also included work on the conventual buildings. Further building work took place in the mid 13th century (east claustral range) and 14th century (gatehouse and some details of the west claustral range). A series of prints from the 18th and 19th centuries document the decay of the buildings. Conservation has taken place at various times in 20th century. (Newman 2000)
An excavation took place in 1978 (Evans 1985).
The priory complex consists of the monastic church (PRN 09575g), the conventual buildings (PRN 09576g), the probable infirmary now converted into the parish church (PRN 01737g), the outer precinct (PRN 09577g) with its wall pierced by a gatehouse (PRN 01740g), containing a dovecote (PRN 01731g) and fishponds (PRN 01732g). Further remains of the conventual buildings are incorporated in the Abbey Hotel (PRN 01721g) .
An archaeological evaluation undertaken in 2008 associated with Court Farm located an east-west running wall foundation was present in the evaluation trench. The foundation was truncated by a modern north-south running water pipe. There was evidence f the wall remaining overlying the foundations (Hart 2008).
The precinct of the monastic complex at Llanthony Priory extended to c. 16 ha and comprised a core 'inner area encompassing the church and main monastic buildings surrounding the cloister, and possibly the infirmary and associated chapel (currently in use as the Parish Church, St Davids), and its enclosure, and an outer area for agricultural activities. Detailed descriptions of main monastic buildings are available elsewhere (e.g. Evans 1980 and 1984, and Newman 2000). To the SW of the core is an area of the precinct known as the Inner Court, which contained the monastic gardens and orchards (c. 12 acres in extent), the remains of the dovecote, rere dorter, and three fish ponds (one surviving) are located at the N edge of this area, close to the monastic core. The 'outer area extended in an arc from the W of the monastic core complex to the SE. Near the W corner of the precinct is a single surviving gatehouse (converted into a barn), standing and roofed, adjacent are surviving sections of walling, elsewhere the precinct boundary survives as earth and stone banks, and scarps, fossilized in the agricultural landscape. To the E of the gatehouse an embanked track leads W towards the remains of a possible inner gate to the inner monastic core, just NW of the infirmary site (after Proctor 2007; Evans 1984). The outer area is divided into a North enclosure and South enclosures (after Evans 1984). Within the North enclosure to the NW of the church is a rectangular Outer Court with the remains of the Priorys main estate barn, the 'Tithe barn, at its SW edge. Beyond the precinct boundary, to the S, is a corn mill, the possible site of a monastic mill and the remains of a probable millpond. A number of areas have been identified as being suitable for geophysical survey at Llanthony Priory: the area of the 'Tithe barn/Outer court and the Trackways, and the Fish Ponds (Proctor 2007; Bowden and Roberts 2012).
The area of the monastic core, the Inner Court and the North enclosure with its Outer Court are currently protected through scheduling (SAM ref MM004), and are covered by the SAM polygon. The polygon area defined for the current project takes in the Abbey Hotel, and farm and St David's Church, excluded from the SAM, and also the area of the South enclosures, to the SE of the Priory monastic complex, though follows the surviving boundary slightly to the E (after Proctor 2007), for convenience (Bowden and Roberts 2012)
Traces of structures were found during groundworks, as were fragments, stone field drains and pieces of iron slag. More investigation is needed (Bates 1997)!