St Hywyn's Church sits
on the edge of the sea on the edge of
Wales in the village of Aberdaron.
It's proximity to the sea almost led to it being
abandoned in the 19th century, but there was such an outcry
that it was saved and restored. The church is named after the son of
a Breton saint and missionary.
In the fifth century, when it was founded, St Hywyn's would
have been a simple wooden structure but the oldest portion of the present
church dates from the twelfth century. Aberdaron had a monastic community
linked to Bardsey Island the centre of great pilgrimages. The fine
12th century west door and the extension of the church in the 16th century
are evidence of the wealth brought to St Hywyn's by the pilgrims.
Hywyn's is also home to the Anelog Stones, a pair of 6th century grave
stones. The two stones were found at Capel Anelog on the eastern slope
of Mynydd Anelog (Anelog mountain) just a few miles north of Aberdaron.
It is thought that this may have been the location of the original
monastery that was established before Aberdaron and Bardsey.
record the graves of priests. One is inscribed VERACIUS PBR HIC IACIT
or : Veracius the priest lies here.
The other stone reads SENACUS PRSB
HIC IACIT CVM MULTITVDINEM FRATRVM
PRESB(IT)E(R) or : Senacus the priest lies here with the multitude
of the brethren, Priest.
Unfortunately I was unaware of the stones on the day I visited and the
pictures will have to wait until another day!
more recent times St Hywyn's is famous as
being the parish church of the parson and often
miserable Welsh poet R.S.Thomas. RS Thomas, who died in 2000, was vicar
of Aberdaron from 1967 to 1978 and he enjoyed a reputation for being
outspoken both in and out of the pulpit. Many
visitors come to Aberdaron each year to see for themselves the landscape
and people who influenced his writing so deeply.
There is an exhibition in the Church that commemorates his time as Vicar.
Aberdaron sits at the tip of the Llyn (Lleyn) peninsula in Gwynedd,
north west Wales. St Hywyn's Church is on the seafront.