Powys Digital History Project 

Stephen W.Williams 3

Early interest
Williams was a keen archaeologist, attending his first meeting of the Cambrian Archaeological Association at the age of 20. He joined the Cambrians at 27 and his involvement was to be a lifelong passion. He travelled with the Cambrians to Brittany and was a regular contributor to the Association's journal Archaeologia Cambrensis. He also joined the Powysland Club and contributed to the Montgomeryshire Collections.
Strata Florida
He first became interested in Cistercian sites when he first worked on the railway surveys, visiting both Abbey Cwmhir and Strata Florida. He retained a keen interest in the latter and in 1887 spent an intense fortnight clearing and surveying the latter site which was in the Association's care. The following year he directed excavations at the site with the help of a professional assistant. Although working at a time when archaeological techniques were fairly crude, the excavation was carefully recorded and revealed much information about the construction and history of the site, as well as a great fire which damaged it in 1285. He published a volume on the excavations 1889 with plans of the site and further material based on documentary research into a variety of relevant records.

Williams (top left)
on the site at Strata Florida in 1888

By kind permission
of the National Library
of Wales

Strata Florida in 1888
  Strata Marcella
In the summer of 1890 the Powysland Club worked on excavations at the site of the abbey at Strata Marcella near Welshpool, under Williams' direction. He travelled as often as he could to the site, leaving the day to day supervision in the hands of Morris Jones of Gungrog.
The site had been much disturbed since the dissolution of the monasteries by local people removing stone for later building. Even so the excavation brought to light much useful information about the site and its construction. Some of the finds from the excavation are today on display at the Powysland Museum at Welshpool.
Photograph by kind permission of the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust 

aerial photograph of Strata Marcella

An aerial view of the site
of the abbey
at Strata Marcella
in recent years,
showing earthwork remains
of the complex.

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