Celtic monks first settled Caldey Island (Ynys Pyr), a couple of miles offshore from Tenby, in the sixth century. This community may have been wiped out in Viking raids, but in 1136 Benedictine monks founded a priory here. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the island was bought and sold until 1906, when it was again sold to a Benedictine order, and subsequently to Reformed Cistercians, who have run the place since then.
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A short woodland walk from the island’s jetty leads to its main settlement: a tiny post office, the popular Tea Gardens and a perfume shop selling the herbal fragrances distilled by the monks from Caldey’s abundant flora. The narrow road to the left leads past the abbey to the heavily restored chapel of St David, whose most impressive feature is the round-arched Norman door.
A lane leads south from the village to the old priory, and the remarkable, twelfth-century St Illtud’s church, which houses one of the most significant pre-Norman finds in Wales, the sandstone Ogham Cross, under the stained-glass window on the south side of the nave. It is carved with an inscription from the sixth century, which was added to, in Latin, during the ninth. The lane continues south, climbing up to the gleaming white island lighthouse, built in 1828, from where there are memorable views.