Grid reference on route: SO 53250 00144
Tintern Abbey is everyone’s idea of a Cistercian ruin, its Gothic arches soaring above the river. It was founded in 1131 by the marcher lord of Chepstow, and the lords of Chepstow gave the abbey generous funds for rebuilding. In the eighteenth century it was discovered by the tourist industry. Turner painted the ruins and Wordsworth wrote his famous poem ‘Lines Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, 13 July 1798’ here.
Around the abbey, a village developed by the fifteenth century. The little ruined church above the abbey was originally built by the monks to serve the needs of their tenants, though all that survives of the building is Victorian. To the north of the abbey ruins is the Angidy brook, which powered a number of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century iron works. This whole area was at the heart of the early Industrial Revolution in south Wales. Iron was mined in the Wye Valley and the local woods provided charcoal to smelt it. The best quality iron went to the wire works near the abbey ruins. There were also a brass foundry, paperworks, tanneries and saw mills.
The abbey’s corn mill was converted into an iron forge and furnace in the seventeenth century: it is now a heritage centre. Up the Angidy valley is the Abbey Furnace, an excavated blast furnace with interpretative boards. The whole valley is full of leats, ponds and old mills. A trail leaflet is available from the Old Station 1km up river from the abbey.
Lots more detail on the Monastic Wales site at http://www.monasticwales.org/site/34 and Castlewales (with wonderful photos); more about the village (including accommodation) on the Tintern Village web site.