The tiny Llanveynoe isn’t even on my AA map so it is a lot easier to find if you have an O/S map! The best advice I can give is to follow the signs for Longtown (home of a pretty ruined castle – E.H. site) then take the minor road north. Llanveynoe is about 2 miles along this road; the church is easily seen on the left of the road.
For Christmas I was given the book ‘The Early Medieval Church in Wales’ by David Petts. Not the sort of book I would have bought myself but as it was a present I eventually got around to looking through it. One picture that jumped out at me was of the ‘Crucifix Stone’, embedded into the inside wall of the church.
David Petts states that the inscribed figure of Christ is on the flat surface of a stone which also has prehistoric cup and ring marks on it. Other sources state that the cup and ring marks are in fact natural and not man made. I wanted to see for myself.
The church is very pretty and sits on the side of a valley. The views along the valley are wonderful and that alone made the trek here worthwhile. I was very pleased to find that the church was unlocked and I let myself in. The inscribed stone has been built into the wall on the right and is easy to spot, as were the possible cup and ring marks – there are about a dozen of them.
I am no rock art expert and certainly no cup and ring expert but I have seen my fair share over the years. To my untrained eye they appeared natural although they do certainly look like small cup and ring marks. However, if they are natural I wonder why this stone was used to carve the figure on? Why not use and ‘unblemished’ stone? Was this stone specifically used because of the ‘cup and ring’ marks?
I picked up a leaflet in the church which gives a brief history of the church. I found this bit particularly interesting:
‘The church is believed to have been founded by St Beuno (c600AD). The remains of the ‘llan’ below the west wall of the churchyard may have been where the original church stood. Two ancient stones, including the ‘Crucifix Stone,’ were found on the slope west of the church in 1860 and 1888’.
Although not religious, I love old churches in picturesque settings. If they have any prehistoric connections all the better. It was therefore no hardship for me to visit Llanveynoe (although Karen may disagree as she was driving!) I would certainly recommend a visit if you happen to be this way. Have a look at the stone, draw your own conclusions – man made or natural?