Amy is a PhD researcher at the University of Bangor and an alumnus of Aberystwyth University. She is researching medieval mid-Wales, focusing on the Cistercian monasteries of the Welsh/March borderlands in central Wales. She has spoken on her research online and in person, including a range of academic conferences and for local history groups. Her other research interests include Welsh saint’s cults and the role of Welsh women in medieval religious expression.
Amy works as part of the House and Collection Management team at Powis Castle for the National Trust in Wales. She works to conserve, research and interpret the 800 year old Castle and collection for visitors. ‘A refuge for Welshmen to fly unto’ was how Matthew Paris described ‘an Abbey five miles from Montgomery’ after it was burned by royal troops in 1228. Paris’ abbey was more likely Cwmhir’s Gwerny-go Grange, but it illustrates the tightrope of allegiance that border monasteries had to walk. Despite the Cistercian ideology of isolation, the white monks played an integral part in the political infrastructure of medieval Wales. Monastic communities and individuals acted as administrators and diplomats and the Abbey buildings became dynastic mausoleums.
The interpretation of the monasteries and rulers of Wales has tended to focus on what the rulers gained from monastic patronage. Primarily using medieval charters, the aim of this research is to see what the monastic community gained, and how the White Monks perceived their relationship with the native rulers. We shall also challenge the idea that the Cistercians shared a natural affinity with Wales, by illuminating the extent that Welsh monasteries benefited from Anglo-Norman patrons and the Anglo-Norman monasteries from Welsh patrons.