Llantwit Major: Celtic crosses' new St Illtud's church home

image captionConservation work has been carried out on the stones before they are moved to their new home

Celtic crosses which are more than 1,000 years old are being moved into a new visitor centre in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The ancient stones will be housed in the refurbished 13th Century Galilee chapel at St Illtud's church in Llantwit Major.

It is part of a £750,000 project to tell the story of the church's role in developing Christianity across Wales.

The new visitor centre will open in June.

"We have some very ancient Celtic stone courses here which date from the 8th to 10th Century that need to be displayed properly, as we have many visitors to the church," said the Reverend Huw Butler, the rector at St Illtud.

He said the church site was important as it dates back to the year 500 and the beginnings of Christianity in Wales.

"The whole of our heritage is based on Christianity through many, many centuries and we can learn so much from it," he said.

The church already attracts large numbers of visitors because of its history.

"For those who visit, some just want to learn about the history and the culture and learn something about their past, whilst others come through their faith," he added.

Viv Kelly, a church historian who shows visitors around, said: "Outside of the National Museum this is the most important collection of stones in Wales and three of them are particularly important because they have inscriptions on them."

image captionThe chapel had been a ruin for many years before the project to house the stones

The stones have not always been protected from the elements, and many were found in local gardens in the town during major restoration work at the site between 1890 and 1900.

Stone conservator Corinne Evans has been working to limit the marks left by time, weather and humans.

"A lot of it has come off with gentle steam cleaning whilst others have had chemical poultices on them," she said.

"A lot of scalpel work has been done too, just picking our way at very small paint splashes."

If everything goes to plan the stones should be moved in the next two weeks and the new centre open by June.

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