Looking around Llantwit Major today, it seems hard to imagine that 1,500 years ago this sleepy little village a few miles to the west of Cardiff was an important academic centre, almost the Oxbridge of its day. Cor Tewdws, Britain's oldest centre of learning, was founded in 395, but was burnt down during a series of raids in the post-Roman period. Then St Illtud, after whom the Norman church in the village is named, came from Brittany in 508 and re-established the centre. St Illtud's church stands on the site of Cor Tewdws, the current building dating from the 11th century. It has a surprisingly imposing exterior for a village church, with some striking carved stones and effigies, earning it the title of the 'Westminster Abbey of Wales'. Another relic of the area's past is the Roman Villa at Caermead to the north-west of the village. A short distance from the village centre is the sand and pebble beach, backed by steep cliffs which are prone to erosion. The beach is popular with surfers, and there is yet more history to be found here in the form of the remains of an Iron Age hill fort called Castle Ditches..
Map of the area.
|The beach. Photo by Archangel12, via Wikimedia Commons.|