St Celynnin’s old church, Llangelynnin

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St Celynnin’s old church, Llangelynnin

This rustic church stands in a spectacular and remote spot in the foothills of Snowdonia’s Carneddau mountains. In prehistoric and Roman times, people travelled across the uplands in this region. The old track which passes outside the churchyard was once a main route between Penmaenmawr and the Conwy Valley.

The church is of rubble construction. The nave is thought to date from the 12th or 13th century, the remains of the rood screen from the 15th and the roof from the 16th. Inside, on the east wall, is a drawing of a skull and crossed bones, uncovered in 1993. It is part of the prominent Creed and Ten Commandments, which were uncovered in the early 20th century.

In 1840 the church was replaced by a new building, also dedicated to St Celynnin, in a more accessible location near Rowen. The newer church is deconsecrated but services are still occasionally held, usually in summer, at the old church.

In the churchyard outside is a well which, like the church, is dedicated to St Celynnin. The well was once thought to have healing powers, especially for children.

St Celynnin lived in the 6th century and was reputedly one of the 12 sons of Helig ap Glannog, who lost his court, known as Llys Helig, when the sea inundated it. As a result of this loss, the sons lived devout lives, some as monks.

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