St Mary’s Church, Caerhun
This church was built in early medieval times. Various additions and changes were made in the 15th and 16th centuries. Some of the yew trees outside are thought to be c.1,200 years old.
Before you enter the churchyard, notice the steps to the right of the lychgate. Those leading up to the small stone platform were to help people mount their horses after services.
The slate steps which jut out from the churchyard wall are said to be a facility for people to use whenever a coffin was blocking the lychgate. Pall bearers would rest the coffin in lychgates to await the arrival of the priest, who would perform some preliminary rites there. However, a Victorian painting shows parishioners using the slate steps when leaving the church after an ordinary service. If that was a faithful recording (rather than the fruit of artistic imagination), it suggests that the lychgate may have been the entrance for the well-heeled and the steps were for commoners.
The church stands on what was once the north-eastern corner of a Roman fort, called Canovium. The red sandstone blocks which can be seen in the walls of St Mary’s Church may have been recycled from ruined Roman structures. Mostly the walls are of rough stone. The bellcote has space for two bells but only one bell, which is dated 1657, hangs there.
The roof over the nave and chancel dates from the 14th or 15th centuries. The transept, or chapel, was built by Edward Williams and his wife Grace built in 1591, according to a Latin inscription there.