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Llwydfaen the Lost Church . The dry summer of 2006 produced a surprise for the aerial archaeologist Toby Driver while working for the Royal Commission for Ancient Monuments in Wales. While flying over a field near Llwydfaen in the Conwy valley there appeared to be the characteristic View across the Conwy Valley close to the location of the lost church of Llwydfaenoutline of a small medieval church in a place where no church is ever known to have existed. Toby Driver spotted it during one of his regular flights to monitor known archaeological sites and discover new ones. Some time later, (May 2008) members of the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust met him on the site with their geophysics kit and confirmed that there were remains below the ground, even though by then the parch-mark had disappeared completely.

The shape of the building vividly appeared in the resulting computer chart. Unusually for a church, the building is not aligned west to east, and no associated remains were identified, but the shape of the remains confirmed by geophysics is unmistakably that of early Norman churches.The church is aligned NNE/SSW, with an apse at southern end. The overall dimensions of the church are 19.5 (20m) NNE/SSW by 8m. The nave measures approximately 14m long internally. The apse measures approx. 4.1m deep and 4.3m wide internally. No convincing remains of a churchyard or walled enclosure, circular or otherwise, are visible either on aerial photographs or the magnetometry. There does appear to be a slight wall- or fence-line on the west side of the church, parallel to the church wall. In addition, cropmarks show five stony buried features just to the south-west of the church, conceivably buried stone slabs or graves. One particular magnetic signal, perhaps from a buried stone or slab, some 7.5m west of the apse matches the evidence on the aerial photograph and might indicate a particular fragment of masonry, or a slab or burial, close to the church.

The church may have been established around 1088 during attempts by Hugh of Avranches, earl of Chester, and his cousin Robert of Rhuddlan, to extend Norman control into Gwynedd; the pristine outline of iBend in the river Conwy close to the location of the lost church of Llwydfaents buried foundations suggests that the church may never have been completed beyond its footings.

The vicar of the Church at Caerhun is to hold a service on the site of the lost church (2008).

The church came to my attention while watching a television programme about the Royal Commission's work in Wales,  and fortunately the site of the old church is just about five miles from my home and is well worth an exploratory visit.  More >

Directions:    [ Map of Llwydfaen the Lost Church location  ]

Leave the A55 at junction 19 , head south down the Conwy Valley on th.e A470 as far as Tal y Cafn. Turn right over Tal y Cafn Bridge Llwydfaen is on the western bank of the Conwy River

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Sorry, but understandably we have no pictures of Llwydfaen the Lost Church, Conwy Valley © All pictures and text copyright Bernard Wellings


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