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St Cadfan's Church is located in the seaside town of Tywyn in the county of Gwynedd on the west coast of Wales.

St Cadfans Church, TywynThe Norman Church of St Cadfan, the earliest parts of which date from the 12th century houses two 14th century stone effigies and most importantly the Cadfan / Nitanam early Christian inscribed stone dating from the 8th or 9th century AD. The stone is inscribed with the oldest known written Welsh.

St Cadfan's is a cruciform monastic church but at first sight appears to be one of many Welsh churches that were built in the victorian age. However although the crossing, chancel and transepts are modern (rebuilt on ancient foundations)  the massive double aisled nave is original 12th century work.

The church is well worth a visit for the nave alone.The nave has great circular pillars and a simple arcade the pillars may look primitive but they make effective architecture and add great character to the church.

The inscribed stone is not to be confused with the Cadfan Stone in Llangadwaladr, Anglesey (the Anglesey stone was erected to commemorate Cadfan a 7th century King of Gwynedd )

The Tywyn stone or Cadfan / Nitanam stone was found in the early 17th century close to the present church. The 5ft stone had been used as a gate post and was broken before being brought to the church in 1761. The broken section now stands beside the main piece. The inscription is written vertically on all four sides. It reads both downwards and upwards. It is of such importance as it is the only inscription in Welsh among the early stone monuments of Gwynedd and is the earliest record of the Welsh language as it emerged as a distinctive form of British Celtic.

The inscriptions have been variously translated as:

"the body of Cingen" .... CINGEN HELEN
"lies beneath" ....TRICET / NITANAM
"the tomb ... four" .....MOLT / PE/TUAR
" Egryn, Mallteg, Gwaddian" ...TENGRUIN MALTE(C) GU/ADGAN
"......."   ........ M(C)/ARTR
"together with Dyfod and Marciau" ........ANTERUNC DUBUT MARCIAU

In this interpretation the stone marks the grave of Cingen and invokes the protection of other persons or local Saints.                                   (Ack. A guide to ancient and historic Gwynedd by Francis Lynch. HMSO)


Please - click on the pictures - for enlarged pictures of St Cadfan's Church. © All pictures and text copyright Bernard Wellings

St Cadfans Church with the 12th century nave in the foreground St Cadfans church pillars
St Cadfans Church with the original 12th century nave in the foreground
St Cadfans church showing the primitive pillars
St Cadfans church interior   The inscribed stone in St Cadfans church
St Cadfans church interior
The inscribed stone in St Cadfan's church. The inscriptions demonstrate the oldest known written Welsh
The inscription on the  back of  St Cadfans stone Side view of St Cadfans stone
Close up of the inscriptions on the
back and side of St Cadfans stone
Side view of St Cadfans stone

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