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ST BRYNACH'S CHURCH, NEVERN

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 300317

Map Reference SN04SE

Grid Reference SN0833340028

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Nevern

Type of Site CHURCH

Broad Class RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period Post Medieval, Medieval

Site Description St Brynach’s Church is situated within a rectilinear churchyard, delineated by the Afon Gamman on its west side. The churchyard may formerly have sat within a larger, curvilinear enclosure (the western half of which is occupied by housing), defined by a road to the south-west and field boundaries to the west and south-east. The site is thought to have been an early medieval 'clas' site, as its glebe lands were referred to as ‘clastir’ in mid-15th century documents, which made reference to an area of noddfa (sanctuary): ‘a certain immunity called the “Northvabernach”, alias the sanctuary of St. Bernachius, where those who wish to dwell and to flee for sanctuary to the said church lands or glebe, and especially to the said “Clastir” enjoy safety and liberty without any hindrance, etc.’. The large outer enclosure may represent this noddfa. The church is situated some 100m south-east of Castell Nanhyfer/Nevern Castle Iron Age defended enclosure (NPRN 304392). It has been suggested that the two represent a paired ecclesiastical/secular site. Nevern parish is very large – even larger before the parish of Newport was carved out of it in the 12th century – and is thought to possibly represent the early parochiam or patria of St Brynach. During the post-Conquest period the church was an important cult and pilgrimage centre of St Brynach, with a large number of chapels on the pilgrimage route – eight of them within the parish. A pilgrimage cross (NPRN 304396) is hewn into natural rock behind Chwarel Cottage, with a natural kneeling ledge below. The church houses three early medieval inscribed and incised stones and a churchyard cross, Nevern 3 (NPRN 304393).

The church is a Grade 2* listed building, constructed of limestone rubble. It is a 15th century Anglican parish church with a 12th century tower with spiralled stairway and crenellated parapet. The church was restored by R.J. Withers, architect of London in 1864. The tower is broad with a battered plinth, has small two-light bell-openings and a corbelled embattled parapet. The nave has a 1864 blue lias ashlar porch. The south aisle is unusually two-storey, with a priest's chamber in the loft. There is a fine 1864 Bath stone font and pulpit.

N Vousden, 15 October 2018

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