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Maen Morddwyd

Standing Stone / Menhir (Destroyed)


I noticed that elsewhere on the internet people say the stone was in a different church, St Nidan's in Llanidan. So I started wondering why I'd thought the church at Llanedwen. But there's definitely books that mention it. This is from 'The history of Wales' by John Jones (1824). Mr Rowland died in 1723 - he was the vicar at both Llanidan and Llanedwen, which makes for more confusion.
Near this place, on the banks of the Menai, is the greatest Cromlech in Anglesey, and supposed to be an altar on which the Druids offered to the Sun the sacrifice of human victims. The church of Llanedwen is said to have been erected in A.D. 640 - about A.D. 1440 would be nearer the truth. The Rev. Mr. Rowland, author of the Mona Antiqua, lies buried here, under a tomb-stone of Anglesey black slab, bearing a Latin inscription, written by himself.

The wandering stone, Maen Morddwyd, is secured in the wall of this church, and deprived of its locomotive impositions.
A History of the Island of Mona, or Anglesey, by Angharad Llwyd (1833), suggests the Llanedwen church, since it mentions nearby Porthamel. And why would you say that if you meant Llanidan - I'd just say Llanidan?
Thus "Maen Morddwyd" (concerning which there has been so many marvellous stories related) "is now well secured in the wall of the church," at Porthamel, not far from Llanidan, famed for being the place where Suetonius landed, in 61.
The Latin of this note has been translated as follows:
Here also, in the church-yard wall, the thigh stone, commonly called Maen Morddwydd, which has been so curiously and largely described by Giraldus Cambrensis, obtained a place for itself a long time ago; but of late years it was pulled off and carried away, either by some papist or other, or by some ignorant person, (its miraculous virtue not displaying itself as formerly, having entirely languished or exhausted itself by age,) with no loss indeed to the place, nor any gain to him who took it away.
The thing is, just before this excerpt, the church of St Aidan is specifically mentioned - that's the other church! But I can't work out what this document is or who wrote it? Everything is so contradictory. Pennant's Tour In Wales is from 1770 and also says the stone is at Llanidan. But did he really go there, or is he just reporting the legend? I sense the parish name vs the specific church confusion arising again.

But at least here's some straightforward folklore. Here (on page 136) in the National Library of Wales journal, there is an extra bit of the Itinerary translated. It's not included in the other translations I've seen, possibly for reasons of rudeness this time. The original latin can be seen here. It says:
If a lustful act be committed near the stone it immediately breaks into sweat. So, too, if a man and woman commit adultery there. If intercourse be had nearby no conception follows, and so the cottage that once stood there has fallen into ruin and the fateful stone alone remains.
Geraldus's 13th century Itinerary reads somewhat like the Fortean Times, it's full of bizarre stuff and you wonder if any of it was true. But the idea that an actual stone existed seems to stick. I can't see any reports of people who've actually looked for it on the church or churchyard walls. But judging by the pages on the 21st century internet, people still want it to be there.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th March 2014ce
Edited 18th March 2014ce

Comments (7)

According to Coflein Llanedwen church was almost completely rebuilt and a new church built at Llanidan later in the 19th century. Both were after the date of all of your references, which might explain the problem.

Wikipedia is quite keen on Llanidan old church being the site, citing Rowlands and Pennant.

(Edit - looks like it's not at either church anyway if it went missing before either of them was rebuilt)
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
21st September 2016ce
Ahh I didn't realise the Victorian obsession of rebuilding churches ran to Wales as well. Shame it's not there. I expect it is really, just unseen. I mean you wouldn't pass up a big bit of stone if you were building a church would you.

Also, having trailed round after many a church in this country, I can definitively say that half the time they are not where you think they're going to be (it's part of the fun really). Sometimes they're really miles away, and sometimes the casual visitor would think they belonged to an entirely different village. So that makes the business of getting the right name even worse.

Anyway it's nice to have had crazy magic stones about, even if they're rather imaginary now. Thanks for the information.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd September 2016ce
Went to Llanedwen church yesterday. May have something to report but is there any record that says how big the stone is?

Llanidan old church is now in private ownership and locked.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
23rd September 2016ce
Ooh how thrilling.

Well something says that someone strapped the stone to their thigh (inspired by its shape??) so it can't be enormous. Assuming the author of the story wasn't confused and like me had never seen the thing in their life.

Llwyd (or is it someone else... so confused...) blames its disappearance on the Papists. Ah isn't religious tolerance brilliant. It reminded me of a random thing I learnt today - Oliver Cromwell apparently died of malaria because he refused to have anything to do with quinine because the bloody Papists grew all the cinchona trees from whence it came. Silly man.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th September 2016ce
According to Breverton; The later church contained the 'Maen Morddwydd - thigh bone' "possibly a small Bronze Age carved pillar which always returned to its original spot". Shackled to a larger rock it was thrown into the sea but came back again, Gerald of Wales said that the Earl who had done this built a protective wall round it, decreeing that no one should touch it..
So where is (as mentioned by Breverton) the Tre'r Dryw Bach stone circle with 12 stones recorded in 1772. In 1872 there were just two left, one measuring 18 feet high by 10 feet wide?
Or is he muddled as well ;)

The ruined church was dedicated to St.Nidan - 6th century and his church was built over a spring, so there was an ever-filling stoup Rhiannon..
moss Posted by moss
24th September 2016ce
Rh. Thanks, found a thigh-shaped stone in the churchyard at Llanedwen. Bigger than a human thigh but not enormous. Pics once I get myself organised.

Moss, thanks for this, "small" may be very useful but only if Llanidan isn't! :)
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
25th September 2016ce
This is so very cool. I look forward to the photos.

And I do like the idea of your ever-filling stoup, Moss.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th September 2016ce
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