A journey of discovery: welcome to my literary landscape.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Postcard 24: Neath Abbey, Wales, UK
We visited Neath Abbey (founded by the Cistercians c.1130) on a grey afternoon. It was a much larger site than I had remembered from a previous visit; and although it lies in a post-industrial and rather built-up area, it has a certain feeling of tranquillity about it, induced to some extent by the ambience of the canal that runs along the abbey grounds. Gerald of Wales, aka Giraldus Cambrensis, alludes to one of the Welsh poets, Meurig, aka Mauricius Morganensis, whose brother, Clement was Abbot of Neath. It seems likely that Meurig was the author of several books in Welsh, in addition to a volume of Latin epigrams. He appears to have been Treasurer of the Diocese of Llandaff in South Wales. It has been asserted that Meurig was responsible for a Welsh translation of St John's Gospel, but this has not been proved and may not, in fact, be true.
Neath has been described in very different ways over the centuries. You will find two opposing descriptions here, showing how its appearance was radically altered between the 16th and the 19th centuries. The abbey was dissolved in 1539, and copper and lead ores were being smelted on the site during the 18th century. These days, Neath is well known as the home of the singer, Katherine Jenkins.
Postscript: I find it curious that the words ambience and ambiancecome under the same entry on the AskOxford site, and yet are given distinct meanings in my copy of The New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors.