Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Church of St Brynach, Nevern, Pembrokeshire

(Click photos to enlarge).

The small village of Nevern lies just a few miles east of Newport in Pembrokeshire, and is well worth a visit for a number of reasons. Its church has some very interesting features, whilst a short walk away from the church is the Pilgrims' Cross (which I shall feature in a separate post).

The church of St Brynach is said to date back to the 6th Century. That is not to say that all of the building we see today is from that era. The tower in the first photo is a Norman addition.

To the east of the porch stands the Vitalianus Stone. Believed to date back to the 5th Century the stone features both Ogham and Latin inscriptions (VITALIANI EMERETO in Latin, and VITALIANI in Ogham).

A short distance further to the east stands a magnificient "Celtic" cross known simply as the Great Cross. This is thought to date to the 10th or 11th Centuries.

Standing at 13 feet in height the Great Cross is believed to be one of the most perfect specimens of its kind.

Inside the church in the nave there are a pair of stones embedded into the window sills.

The first is known as the Maglocunus Stone and again we see more Ogham and (fainter at the top) Latin inscriptions. The translation reads "(THE MONUMENT) OF MAGLOCUNUS (MAELGWN) SON OF CLUTORIUS".

In the adjacent window sill there is embedded the Cross Stone. This shows a form of "Celtic" cross made of intertwining cords, and resembling a prone human figure.

Outside again and on the north wall of the church on the sill of the second chancel window, we find the so-called "Imperfect Incised Stone". You can just make out a few letters from a vertical Latin inscription that has been turned through 90 degrees and is most likely an example of a stone being re-cut and re-used.

Finally, in the avenue of yew trees leading from the gate to the porch, there is one particular yew tree that has a legend all of its own. Known as the Bleeding Yew, this tree has been "bleeding" its red sticky sap from a lower limb for as long as everyone can remember. The legend apparently is that the tree will bleed "until a Welshman is once again Lord of the castle on the hill". As a small child I remember visiting this tree and the story I heard at the time was that the blood was supposed to be (or represent) the blood of Christ. I cannot back up this alternate "legend" as it was only hearsay or perhaps being only six or seven years old at the time I got the wrong end of the stick.

However, I was somewhat alarmed to discover on this visit that the branch in question has been removed, but as can clearly be seen in my photo above there are two openings in the stump of the missing branch through which the sap has been flowing.

Date visited: 13 February 2009

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm is that vandalism to the tree, or what?

    I am very impressed with the Great Cross. That is high art. Never seen anything like that.

    Also, the legendary Bleeding Yew which I have read about in Heritage Trees of Britain & Ireland by Archie Miles. It's probably got some protected status so it's a bit worrying about the branch being removed.