Llanllyr Nunnery, Talsarn

Rhys ap Gruffudd founded Llanllyr Cistercian nunnery in about 1180. Following its dissolution in 1535 some of its buildings were probably converted into a mansion. This mansion was probably demolished when the current house was built in the late 18th – early 19th century.

Surprisingly the exact location of the nunnery and the mansion is not known, and thus there is the danger that important archaeological deposits could be unwittingly damaged or destroyed. It was anticipated that excavations in 2014 would locate the location of the nunnery and mansion.

The excavations revealed extensive cobbled surfaces and foundations which correspond with buildings and formal gardens shown on a 1768 estate map, which may be the mansion before it was demolished. However, it was not possible during in the time available to obtain dating evidence for the revealed archaeological remains.

In 2015, excavations explored the stratified deposits associated with the cobbled surface revealed in 2014. Structural evidence for buildings was investigated. These buildings had been systematically dismantled, and evidence for artefacts associated with them indicates that they dated to the 16 th century or later. An earthwork survey in woodland close the cobbled surface recorded the remains of water management features, possibly fishponds. What seem to be the remains of a timber sluice associated with these remains have been dendrochronologically dated to the 13th century by Trinity St Davids University.

Thomas Dinley’s drawing of 1684 possibly showing Llanllyr mansion

The cobbled surface exposed during the excavation possibly of the formal garden shown on the 1768 estate map

Aerial photograph of the cobbled surface and 2015 excavation

Fragment of a 16th century floor tile

Llanllyr Nunnery Interim Report 2014 (in PDF format – opens in a new window)

Llanllyr Nunnery Interim Report 2015 (in PDF format – opens in a new window)

Llanllyr Report 2017 (PDF -opens in  new window)

Llanllyr Nunnery Archaeology in Wales Report (PDF – opens in new window)

Heneb - The Trust for Welsh Archaeology