ONE of the most historically significant sites in Gwent will be front and centre on a BBC history programme this evening. 

The five-year YEAR programme of conservation works at Tintern Abbey will be the focus of BBC’s Digging for Britain tonight.

The soft medieval stonework of the Gothic Church on the banks of the River Wye has been eroded by more than seven centuries of British weather.

A large-scale conservation project is under way to preserve the monument and make it safe for visitors.

Archaeological investigations began in the summer to help inform the works, which will address natural erosion and weathering.

This included detailed recording of the remains and excavations to improve understanding of the archaeology underground.

The works will go ahead this year, requiring a very high and heavy scaffold.

Before the scaffold is installed, further evaluations must take place in order to avoid any ancient fragilities buried in the ground.

The Digging for Britain team has been on site at Tintern following the excavation works and some finds will be featured in Thursday’s programme – including the remains of some former occupants being analysed by Cardiff University.

Many interesting artefacts have been recovered from the site, helping to paint a picture of the abbey’s long life. These include fragments of medieval window glass, floor tiles, pottery, 13th-century coins and more.

Digging for Britain presenter Alice Roberts said it was a “huge privilege” to visit Tintern while an array of exciting discoveries took place.

South Wales Argus: Torchlit carol service at Tintern Abbey in December 2011Torchlit carol service at Tintern Abbey in December 2011

“I loved seeing some of the original decorated floor tiles, buried under the demolition rubble of later periods. The archaeological work is part of a bigger project to conserve this wonderful building, keeping it safe for future generations,” she said.

Gwilym Hughes, head of Cadw, added: “For over 700 years the abbey’s church has been welcoming worshippers, wealthy patrons and visitors to this tranquil location, and once again it requires some attention.

“What has been discovered so far has taught us so much more about and enhanced our knowledge and understanding of Tintern Abbey, its history, buildings and archaeology.

“I’m delighted that the viewers of Digging for Britain will get the opportunity to get an insight to the work that is being carried out.”