Tintern was a wealthy and powerful Cistercian foundation, thought to be the third wealthiest Cistercian abbey after Mellifont and St. Mary’s in Dublin. Tintern would have followed the standard format for all Cistercian Abbeys in Ireland based on the ‘Mother House’ of Mellifont. The cloisters were positioned at the south, and were surrounded by a range of domestic and spiritual buildings, with a cruciform shaped church to the North. Excavations have revealed a number of these features, including the discovery of a thirteenth-century sewer. Although a little unpalatable to some (ahh the glamorous life of an archaeologist), this stone lined drain produced real insights into thirteenth century life, and particularly the diet of the monks. They ate cereals, apples, figs, raspberries, sloe berries, hazelnuts, beef, mutton, pork and goat. They also had seafood with evidence being discovered for mussels, oysters, cockles, and whelks. This shows they had a rich and varied diet that was probably far above what the general population would have enjoyed in the thirteenth century.
I'm particularly fond of the unusual sandstone gargoyle heads that run along the northern side of the chancel wall of the church (facing the carpark). I'm sure one or two of them look familiar from a night out in Coppers!
|Close up of the decorative heads|
One of the most identifiable features of Tintern is the lovely castellated bridge over the head of a stream and tidal inlet. It dates to the eighteenth century. Nearby is the remains of a large limekiln which shows some of the more industrious activities needed on a large estate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/tinternabbey/. You’ll find Tintern roughly 16km south of New Ross off the R734, or 29km from Wexford off the Wexford to Ballyhack road R733.
I hope you enjoy our blog posts. Ireland has such a wealth of great heritage sites to visit and I hope to cover more around the country. Next week I’ll be visiting sites in Ulster, particularly in Counties Derry, Donegal, Antrim and Fermanagh so if anyone has any suggestions for places to visit I’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
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