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Thursday, 13th July a visit to St Teilo’s church at Llantilio Crossenny and Hen Gwrt moated site

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July 13, 2017
February 17, 2018

A visit to Llantilio Crossenny

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It was a beautiful summer’s evening on Thursday 13th July as the MAA led by Alan Aberg and Revd Canon Dr Arthur Edwards headed out to visit Hen Gwrt moated site and the church of St Teilo at Llantilio Crossenny.  The Church of St Teilo is the parish church of Llantilio Crossenny, Monmouthshire is a cruciform church with an early English tower crossed by a decorated chancel. Rev Canon Dr Arthur Edwards gave an interesting talk on the church, and we then spent time looking at a splendid ‘Green Man’, interesting graves and fine Victorian stained glass amongst many other treasures. Thanks must also be given to the Revd Heidi Prince who allowed access to the church and joined us on the visit.

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The church is important because St Teilo stayed in the vicinity on his visitations. All the Welsh historians believe that he died at Llandeilo, In the 6th century it was probably a timber church. The earliest relic is the 12th century Norman font. The tower is 13th century early English and the chancel 14th century. The Cil Llwch chapel on the left of the chancel is dated by the hair style of the two heads on its east wall to 1307-27. The nave is late 14th century. In 1708-9 the four great timbers in the tower made from one tree 60 feet high supported a ring of six bells and the spire. The ring increased to eight bells in 1978-9. A staircase leads to the door which gave access to the rood screen which was removed during the reformation and such screens are rare survivals. We recall the screen still in place at Llangwm which we visited recently with Maddy Gray.

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After a short walk to Hen Gwrt, Alan Aberg gave an informative and interring talk about the excavations and history of the site. There was little to see above ground but Alan brought the ancient site to life once more by describing the buildings that would have existed there. It was probably a manorial site belonging to the bishops of Llandaff in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, later used as a hunting lodge. Only the moat now remains. The site is defined by a rectangular platform, 39m by 45m, set within a moat, 72.5m by 76m overall. Excavation in 1957 demonstrated a sequence of occupation starting in the thirteenth century, the moat being the work of the fourteenth century. Such structures were high status and were most likely the homes of minor lords and well-to-do tenant farmers and in some instances they may also have represented outlying grange farms associated with monastic establishments. The site would have formed the focal point of an agricultural estate. They were less common in Wales than in many areas of England. In Wales in 1978, 136 had been identified but probably aerial photography will have increased this number.   The moat was the unifying feature for identifying such sites. There was obviously a defensive purpose to the moat, but the moat would have been connected to a series of fish ponds and would have varied in size.

After a hiatus in occupation during the fifteenth century substantial buildings were constructed/adapted in the sixteenth century when the site was used as a park lodge, occupation ceasing in the seventeenth century.

See Alan Aberg’s introduction to the Council for British Archaeology’s Research Report no. 17 for moated sites. Published in 1978.


Photos thanks to Adrian Smith

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