The site of a 12th century Cistercian Abbey, Strata Florida is situated in the hills above the Ceredigion town of Tregaron and has been shaped by both human and natural influences.
As the Ice Age ended, the retreating glacier widened the valley and left behind ridges known as moraines. Over the last 12,000 years, Tregaron Bog (Cors Caron) has formed in the lake created by one of the moraines and within the bog, scientists have found pollen evidence to help them piece together the site's dynamic history.
Extensive clearance and cultivation of the mixed woodland covering the slopes began in the Bronze Age, spread to the valley floor in the Iron Age and was more or less complete by the end of Roman times. Following the Roman departure, the forest began to regenerate until the Cistercians arrived in the 12th century and reinstated the clearing.
These monks grazed their numerous sheep on the uplands, converting land that had previously been used for cattle and arable crops. They also made use of other natural resources such as mines and quarries in the mountain, peat and iron in the boglands and power generated by the rivers and streams. The ruinous remains of the abbey they founded are visible thanks to 19th century excavations. After the dissolution of the monastery in 1539, the land passed into the hands of the landed gentry who used intensive methods to farm the now arable land.
Since the 19th century, the land has been used extensively for cattle and sheep, and more recently for timber planted by the Forestry Commission.