St Seiriol’s Church, Penmon

button_lang_frenchSt Seiriol’s Church, Penmon

This building was originally the church of an Augustinian priory. It’s dedicated to St Seiriol, a 6th-century descendant of the prince Cunedda Wledig. According to legend, he built a cell on Ynys Seiriol or Priestholme (now commonly known as Puffin Island) and a causeway so that he could walk between Penmon and Penmaenmawr, on the mainland opposite.

A clas, similar to a monastic community, continued at Penmon after Seiriol’s death. Its buildings were damaged by Vikings in 971.

The oldest parts of the priory church, including the nave and tower, date from the 12th century. The building was subsequently enlarged, particularly after the religious site here was granted to the prior of Priestholm in the 1220s. The prior made Penmon his base. A three-storey building was erected south of the church to accommodate dormitories and catering facilities. The ruined walls of this building still stand.

Penmon Priory was damaged when the forces of King Edward I attacked Wales. He later paid £46 in compensation. The priory was dissolved in the 1530s and its church became the parish church.

In the church’s south transept is a stone cross which dates from c.1000 and bears elaborate Celtic carvings. The church’s font is of similar age.

Another cross, probably from the 11th or 12th century, is inlaid into the chancel’s north wall. Both crosses originally stood outside.

Also in the south transept you can see a carving of a man holding an axe, and a 12th-century sheela-na-gig – a pre-Norman fertility symbol depicting a woman which might seem lewd to modern eyes!

Postcode: LL58 8RR    View Location Map

Parish website

More about the priory – Monastic Wales website

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