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ARC Home > Projects > Sacred land :
Pilgrimage | Walsingham pilgrimage trail | The Cistercian Way | Cistercian Way map | Words along the Cistercian Way | Story of a 20th century shrine | Shropshire’s Orthodox monastery

Words along the Cistercian Way


"The problem is we can't recreate a medieval pilgrimage. We are not medieval people... we cannot think or see things in the same way. Our values about landscape are totally different. They would have valued settled, cultivated, ordered land as we now value wilderness and isolation because its what we haven't got much of any more. Wilderness and bleakness to them was an ever-present threat and that's what they had to fight against and they would not have wanted it. They for example wouldn't have looked to go over the top of the mountain for example but would have stayed on the edges of cultivated land where they could. So we can't really create what a medieval pilgrim would have felt going for example from Strata Florida to Cwmystwyth and so to a certain extent we have got to work out what works for us as well..."

"I haven't got any strong religious views at all. But to me it was a great walk and I have got to admit that there were places that we went to where you could sense people had been there before..."

"We walked from Whitland up to Cwmystwyth and [one pilgrim] was obviously having difficulty walking the first few days. She's not built like a walker – she's short and quite plump and we were quite snooty about her boots because they weren't proper walking boots. She was having difficulty going up the hill and we thought oh dear she's not fit. After about a week she finally plucked up the courage to tell us that that she thought she had been walking on a broken foot. She had slipped very badly two days before she set off and the foot had swollen up and the toenails had gone black. She couldn't wear her proper walking boots which is why she was wearing this pair of soft shoes but she was so determined to go on the pilgrimage..."


‘Okay, so the weather is wet, but you realised that the monks had to do this and you were doing something that someone else had done before you.’
Cistercian Way website.

Read what pilgrims on the Cistercian Way had to say>

Find out more about the Cistercian Way project from the Heritage Tortoise blog run by Professor Madeleine Gray

The project was supported by Shell Better Britain and the Welsh Historic Monuments Executive Agency (CADW)

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Related information

New Cistercian pilgrimage trails
In 1998 a group of walkers followed a route leading to all the Cistercian Abbeys in Wales. They were not trying to reconstruct a medieval pilgrimage – but to use medieval routes to make their own pilgrimage.
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January 12 2004:
Pilgrims plan return to Wales
THE Western Mail reports how ARC is helping the sacred and often secret history of Wales to be celebrated with the mapping of a 650-mile pilgrimage route around the nation.