|What of the monastery itself in
Llantwit Major? It grew in size and importance as its
reputation expanded. A small Christian town grew up around
it. Apart from being a centre of learning, it developed
culturally. A number of monuments have survived and these
are on display at the west end of the Church.
From the late
9th century on, Llantwit Major was the centre of a
flourishing school of sculpture, probably attached to the
monastery. Study of the inscriptions suggest that during
this period Llantwit Major was the burial place of local
kings, an indication of its importance. There are references
to Illtud and Samson, the latter evidence of the continued
existence of the monastery.
The monastery survived until the Normans under Robert
Fitzhamon annexed the Vale of Glamorgan. He confiscated the
monastery's land and property and used them to endow the new
Abbey at Tewkesbury. From the Vita Sancti Iltuti, we learn
that the Clas Church became a collegiate Church, served by a
number of clerks.
The Normans rebuilt the primitive Celtic
church, its site probably comprising the present "West"
Church, but only the round doorway of the main porch
entrance and the lower sections of the walls, together with
the stone font, date from that period.
During the 13th
century, the Church was extended eastwards in Early English
style, and there remain relics of that time, evidence of
several altars, with niches for statues and piscinae. The
tower was constructed at the same time. In the 15th century
the Norman building was re-built, the chancel extended and
the Rood erected over the chancel arch. A chantry chapel was
built and endowed at the west end of the church, and a
chantry priest employed.
It is asserted that Cadoc founded the monastery at
Llancarfan about 535 on land given him by his uncle.
Accompanied by young men with the same aspirations as
himself, Cadoc travelled westwards from Gwent looking for a
suitable site. The believed they had fund it at Llancarfan,
a swampy valley rarely visited by humans, with a small piece
of dry hill land. It was not a pleasant spot, full of snakes