"In the parish of Darowen is the township of Noddfa, the name of which implies a place of refuge or a sanctuary, its limits probably being described by three stones - one called Carreg y Noddfa, standing about a mile to the east of the church, another large stone standing about one mile to the south of the church, and a smaller one about the same distance north-east of the church." (Lewis, Top. Dict. of Wales, 1833, s.n. Darowen'). From An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Wales and Monmouthshire: 1 - County of Montgomery, p31.
These stones, which may have served in medieval times to have marked off an area devoted to the right of sanctuary or some other ecclesiastical purpose, appear to be at present reduced to two in number.
One is placed at the spot indicated above, at the cross roads 1/4 mile of Talyweren, and in the centre of the field called 'Cae yr hen eglwys,' 'old church field'. The stone is of mountain grit, 6 feet above ground and 12 feet 6 inches in circumference.
The farmstead is called Rhos Dyrnog, and Arch. Camb. 1856, III, ii, 193, notes the presence of "two erect stones at Rhos Dyrnog," but the tenant of the neighbouring farm of Caerseddfan has always known of only one. It would, however, appear that there must have been two stones in the field, as the Tithe Schedule [...] gives its name as 'Cae Meini Llwydion.'
-- Visited, 27th May, 1910.
This is the stone 'about one mile to the south of the church'. But then if there was more than one here, how does that fit into Lewis's description with three in total in different places? It's all a bit tangled. (The stone 'to the north east' must be Maen Llwyd (Commins Coch).)
The Inventory goes on:
Cae yr hen Eglwys, 'Old Church Field' [...] the field within which the larger of the two meini hirion called 'Cerrig Noddfa,' 'sanctuary stones,' still stands.The Plot Thickens. What can it all mean. (Not that we'll ever know now. but at least it's easier to plough, tch).
Mr Edwards Hughes, Rhos Dyrnog, who has 40 years' personal experience of the field, stated that when ploughing it about ten years ago, he struck on some masonry to the east of and very near the maen hir, and about 6 inches below the surface. He uncovered all he could trace, which then showed foundations of a solidly constructed building, 25 feet by 18 to 20 feet, with the foot-stone of a door, "very deeply foot-worn," in situ at the north corner. To the east of the foundation stones, and close to them, his plough struck a roughly circular boulder, beneath which was an empty cavity, 2 feet wide by 3 feet deep. All the stones were removed and taken up, "so as to plough easier." Local tradition affirms an old church to have stood close to the sanctuary stone. -- Visited, 27th May, 1910.
Posted by Rhiannon
16th January 2014ce
Edited 23rd January 2014ce