The Topographical and Environmental SettingTopography: the lands occupied by the Abbey precinct and its demesne lie at the top end of the broad glaciated Teifi Valley. The ancient farms and sites identified from documents and archaeology lie on the best agricultural land between the bog and flood lands of the valley floor and the steeper slopes of the mountain (mynydd) edge. The precinct itself lies on the flat glaciated valley floor between two rivers, the Teifi and the Glasffrwd (its tributary), and is enfolded to north and south by high ridges each of which has an Iron Age hill-fort on it (Pen y Bannau to the north and Gilfach y Dwn Fawr to the south). To the east, immediately beyond the Presbytery of the Abbey church are the Cambrian Mountains of which the northern and southern ridge form a part. In effect the Abbey lies in a horseshoe of hills, opening to the west and the flat approach from the village of Pontrhydfendigaid.
Rivers and streams: The Afon Teifi flows eastwards past the Abbey along the northern edge of its precinct. At this point it is not far from its source, Teifi Pools. There is some slight evidence to suggest that this river was managed in the Middle Ages, but this is not as clear as the Afon Glasffrwd which forms the southern boundary of the precinct and which appears to be bedded into an artificial channel.
The Afon Glasffrwd stops being a fast-moving mountain river just at the point where it meets the south-eastern angle of the precinct and then becomes more slow moving along the glacial valley floor. This stretch is retained by a substantial wall which may also be the south wall of the precinct. It is from the valley of the Glasffrwd that the water supply for the Abbey was drawn and a sophisticated leat and pond system controlled the water east of the precinct.