St Beuno's Church
Clynnog Fawr on the Llyn
peninsula is one very big church in a very small
village, indeed in
the late 20th century the village had a population of only 130 persons.
The church is dedicated to Beuno who was born in Powys, and who
became an active missionary under the protection of Cadfan, King
of Gwynedd. Following a dispute with Cadwallon, King Cadfan's son
and successor, Beuno was awarded the township of Clynnog Fawr
where the saint founded his church
in the early 7th century.
The site developed into a monastery of some importance and
Welsh law manuscripts say that the Abbot of Clynnog was entitled
to a seat at the court of the king of Gwynedd.
The church mostly dates from the late 15th
and early 16th centuries. The west tower and detached chapel of St Beuno
are probably early 16th century. Foundations of earlier buildings, including
the original chapel of St Beuno, have been discovered beneath and near
the present chapel. It is likely that it is the site of the 7th century
monastery of St Beuno.
The church was burnt by both the Vikings and later
the Normans. In medieval times the church was an important stopping
place for pilgrims heading for Bardsey Island.
To this day important artefacts are to be found at St Beuno's Church
ancient wooden chest hollowed out of a single piece of ash (Cyff Beuno),
and used to keep alms donated by the pilgrims (nothing changes). The
chest is believed to date from the middle ages and the padlocks from
around 1600. The choir stalls and screen are believed to be 16th Century.
A barrel-vaulted passageway leads to the16th Century chapel that is believed
to have been built on St Beuno's cell. A stone known as Beuno's Stone
(Maen Beuno) has markings reputed to be those of Beuno's fingers and
outside in the churchyard there is a sundial dated between the late 10th
century and the early 12th century. And of interest to twitchers there
are house-martins nesting in the rafters of the Lychgate.
Travel west on the A55 north Wales and head toward Caernarfon and continue
west to the Llyn peninsula. As I write in 2007 the main road ( A499 Caernarfon to
Pwllheli ) passes through the village of Clynnog Fawr between the pub
and the church, however as I understand it there is soon to be a by-pass
constructed (to the annoyance of some villagers) which will entail a
short detour into the village. But it will be well worth the detour if
not only for the church but also for the pub and restaurant adjacent
to the church offering an excellent selection of local Welsh sea foods.