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Kenric's Stone and Llanelltyd Church

Christianised Site

<b>Kenric's Stone and Llanelltyd Church</b>Posted by KammerImage © Kammer
This site is of disputed antiquity. If you have any information that could help clarify this site's authenticity, please post below or leave a post in the forum.
Nearest Town:Dolgellau (2km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   SH717195 / Sheet: 124
Latitude:52° 45' 26.79" N
Longitude:   3° 54' 5.1" W

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Photographs:<b>Kenric's Stone and Llanelltyd Church</b>Posted by Kammer <b>Kenric's Stone and Llanelltyd Church</b>Posted by Kammer Artistic / Interpretive:<b>Kenric's Stone and Llanelltyd Church</b>Posted by Kammer

Fieldnotes

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Visited 9.12.11

The church you need is actually St Illtud's in Llanelltyd and is easy to find as it is right on the A470 just north of the A496 junction. There is a car park right next to the church.

It was starting to get dark and I was half expecting to church to be locked as there were no lights on. Fortunately the gate leading into the church yard was closed but not locked – as was the church door. It was very dark inside but I managed to find the light switch.

The stone is propped up against the far wall on the right and is held in place by a small chain. There was a portable heater on the floor in front of the stone. The stone is about 1.5 metres high and 0.5 metres across at the base.

There was a pamphlet available in the church which refers to the stone although I was unable to make out the footprint said to be carved in it. This could have been due to the poor lighting or perhaps it was on the reverse side of the stone?

The pamphlet gives some interesting information about the stone:
'This famous stone was found in 1876 amongst debris in an outbuilding near the church.
On the stone is an inscription of mid 12C date – 'Vestigium Kenyric tenetur in capite lapidis et ipsemet antequam peregre profectus est'. 'The footprint of Kenyric is imprinted at the head of this stone before he himself set out for foreign parts'.
On the stone is clearly carved a footprint which is said to be that of a pilgrim. It is said to be the only stone of its kind in existence.
Why did Kenyric have an imprint of his foot made on the stone? One theory is that placing a foot on the stone was considered by the pilgrim to guarantee a safe return from a visit to foreign lands. There is some evidence for a superstition of this kind amongst Welsh sailors.
Kenyric was possibly a local chieftain.
Within the churchyard there are four ancient yew trees'.
Posted by CARL
15th December 2011ce

I visited Llanelltyd on the 31st August 2006. There is what appears to be an external fountain or spring in the southern quadrant of the surrounding circular wall. One of the meanings of 'llan' is of an enclosure, and the church is right in the middle of this circular, sacred enclosure; a local (Gwynedd) man told me he thought 'llans were druid enclosures' and I cannot see any ecclesiastical reasons for 'enclosures' instead of Christian 'houses of god' (or indeed village 'preaching' crosses which preceded early churches?). The church gloss on the interior stone seems to fall apart on inspection - at one point it is described as 'shaped like a coffin', at another, a pilgrim's footprint is described on the stone, ensuring 'a safe return' from a pilgrimage - so the anecdotes appear to contradict one another?

St Elltyd also features in South Wales where he is associated with deer symbolism - I think this is the early Church building on pagan traditions in the area? Elltyd does not appear to be connected with deer hear by Dolgellau, however - at least not within the fabric of this church?

The road outside this church is very busy - beware!

ric
Posted by megalith6
7th August 2006ce
Edited 7th August 2006ce

Visited 15th June 2003: Julian mentions this site in the Modern Antiquarian book, and includes a photo of Kendric's Stone. This was my second attempt to see the stone (the first time there was a service going on). We found the stone at the opposite end of the church to the altar, next to a tiny wooden vestry. It has a plaque next to it, and when we visited there was some sort of dried grass propped up against it. This stone really doesn't look very prehistoric, and it does look heavily worked.

The other point of interest at this site is the raised circular churchyard that surrounds Llanelltyd Church. It's sheltered by trees, and has a wall running around most of it. At the back of the church some buildings are built up against the churchyard, so that you could walk onto their roofs from ground level. It must be weird sitting in a one of these buildings, knowing that there are human remains just on the other side of your wall! All in all it's a pleasant place to visit, but I have yet to be convinced that this type of churchyard necessarily has a prehistoric link.
Kammer Posted by Kammer
28th June 2003ce
Edited 4th August 2003ce

Folklore

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A story about the circular churchyard. TP Ellis doesn't believe its druidic roots either.
The church stands in the middle of a circular graveyard, one of the most perfect specimens of the type left to us.. ..The reason why it is circular is this. In olden times, the altar in a church was a very holy place indeed; more holy than it is generally regarded now, for people believed that, on the altars of the Church, Christ was, in the strictest literal sense of the word, actually present. That being so, anyone who claimed the protection of the altar, no matter what he had done, could not be touched. He was at once protected by the altar and by God from the vengeance of man, and round the sacred altar a circle was drawn, within which a man, so long as he remained within that circle, could claim sanctuary for seven years and seven days.

The graveyard at Llanelltyd was a sanctuary circle of the church, and the limits of the circle were settled in this way: the ploughman stood at the foot of the altar,with his arm outstretched, and, in his outstretched hand, he held the yoke of his plough-team. A plough team consisted of eight oxen, yoked two abreast, and the yoke extended from the front of the first couple to the end of the plough. Holding the yoke in his hand, the ploughman, no doubt with assistance, swept it round in a circle, and all land within that circle, which was called the "erw," became holy ground. That is the origin of the phrase "God's acre," for "erw" means "acre." It was the immediate circle of God's protection, not of the dead, but of the living, however guilty.

People, I think rather fancifully, go a great deal further back than that in explaining the old Welsh circular graveyards. They associate them with the ancient stone-circles of the Druids, or whoever it was who made stone-circles.

Another object worthy of notice in the Llanelltyd church is an old stone, on the top of which there is incised a footprint, and underneath an inscription which reads in Latin, "The mark of Rhodri is on the top of this stone, which he placed there when he set out on a pilgrimage." Nothing is known about Rhodri, for that or Rhydderch appears to be the name..
From chapter 9 of The Story of Two Parishes Dolgelley and Llanelltyd, by TP Ellis (1928)

From the Merioneth Local History Website / Merionnydd Gwefan Hanes Lleol:
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wlsmer2/DolgaLLan/llanchch.htm

Seems like there's some confusion over the names.. Rhodri.. Kenric.. hmm.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th March 2007ce
Edited 30th March 2007ce