Neath Abbey — a site that has witnessed Cistercian monks, Tudor splendour and thriving industry over its 900-year history — will share its story with visitors in a new digital reconstruction.
Part of a wider £548k project, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service (Cadw) has unveiled a series of interactive displays at the 12th-century site, to help visitors explore its rich and varied history.
On-site improvements include a giant ‘snakes and ladders’ game — allowing visitors to physically follow the ups and downs of the Abbey — new displays, audio points and even a ‘talking’ bench.
Online or by using their smartphones at site, visitors can also access a CGI reconstruction of Neath Abbey, showing the ruin rebuilt to its former glory as ‘the fairest abbay of al Wales’ — as it was once described by the Tudor antiquarian, John Leland.
The completion of the interpretation project coincides with critical conservation work that has seen a team of 15 skilled stonemasons conserve the Abbey’s undercroft to protect it against further rain damage. While the first phase of the conservation project is due for completion this summer, further work is to be carried out later this year and is due to be finished by March 2018. These works will include further conservation to the Tudor mansion including the raking out and repointing of stonework, repairs to stone-framed windows, consolidation of loose stonework and capping works to high level walls. This will eventually allow the reopening of sections of the site now closed to visitors.
Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “Neath Abbey is one of Wales’ hidden gems — a rugged, yet romantic ruin, that is too often bypassed in favour of better preserved monastic sites. The Abbey has a fascinating story to tell — one that captures different eras of Wales’ rich past. It’s absolutely vital that we not only safeguard the site for future generations to explore, but also look at new and innovative ways to bring its history to life for visitors to enjoy.
“2017 celebrates Wales’ Year of Legends — the incredible people from our past, captivating places, and stories that have shaped Wales’ rich heritage and culture — so it’s a fitting time to put the spotlight on this spectacular site.”