I do enjoy visiting old churches and associated graveyards; all the more so if there is something interesting and/or prehistoric to see. Old Radnor church certainly does not disappoint. As it was raining Karen and the children stayed in the car as I walked up into the graveyard and headed straight for the grave of Herbert Edmund 1846? who decided to have a ‘standing stone type’ headstone. In fact at first I thought it was a standing stone! No doubt an antiquarian would describe this as a ‘rude stone’! The grass was long and very wet but it was worth getting wet boots for.
I then entered the church to seek out the pre-Norman font. It is very large with four feet and made from a single block of stone. The church also boasts a superb wooden screen and a huge organ which has a stone Green Man carved head next to in on a corbel. I was able to pick up a booklet on the history of the church and two colour postcards (one of the font). The usual honesty box rules apply. This is a great church to visit and I highly recommend doing so when visiting the nearby stone circle.
[A] curiosity in [Old Radnor] church [is] the extraordinary font, of the date of which it is impossible to form any opinion beyond the fact of its being a very early one, from the enormous dimensions of the bowl. It stands upon four clumsy feet, the under portion of the original mass having been cut away, leaving these rude supports.
The material is of a hard porphyritic rock, unlike any stone known in the vicinity, but said to be identical as to its character with the stones below in the valley, known as the Four Stones; so that if this is the fact, it is probable that it has been removed at some very early period from this so-called Druidic group, and converted to Christian use.
It's so easy to get confused when you're not a geologist. But if you are.. get down to the church immediately! Whatever the truth, it's a nice romantic thought. And ties in nicely with other speculation about the church.
from p366 of Archaeologia Cambrensis, v9 (third series), 1863.
Here's a picture of it, at 'Gathering the Jewels'. It really does have some resemblance to the squat Four Stones? but it is weird anyway, and seriously old if it really is 8th century as GTJ suggests (much older than the church). http://www.gtj.org.uk/item.php?lang=en&id=24339&t=1
I also spotted this intriguing stoney snippet in the Gentleman's Magazine (p514 in the Jul-Dec v11 for 1861):
..it was still a saying in Wales, "I would gladly carry a stone to his grave,"* and at Radnor it was, until very lately, the custom for mourners to carry a stone, which they cast down outside the churchyard.