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St Gwyndaf's Church, Llanwnda

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Map ReferenceSM93NW
Grid ReferenceSM9322039590
Unitary (Local) AuthorityPembrokeshire
Old CountyPembrokeshire
Type Of SiteCHURCH
PeriodPost Medieval
St Gwyndaf's Church is situated within a quadrilateral churchyard, nuclear to a system of informal field boundaries. It is in a prominent hilltop location. A Neolithic chambered tomb, Carreg Samson (NPRN 305197) is situated some 340m south of the church. The presence of eight early medieval stones suggests that the site was a significant one during the early medieval period. During a watching brief in advance of development at Ty Isaf Farm, the remains of two corn-drying kilns, thought to date to the early medieval period, were identified some 90m to the south-east of the church. Corn dryers of early medieval date would represent evidence of a domestic settlement associated with the early medieval church site and involved in agrarian activity. The parish was an important prebend of St Davids during the post-Conquest period, when the church was a parish church, belonging to the Deanery of Pebidiog. The church, along with Mathry Church, was reportedly despoiled by insurgents between 1200 and 1204. In the 13th century the church and its appurtenances were granted to the Chapter of St Davids Cathedral by Bishop Anselm le Gras. Giraldus Cambrensis was the (pluralist) vicar during the 13th century. There were at least two subordinate chapelries within the parish, Capel Degan (NPRN 525508) and Llanwnwr (NPRN 422437). During the French Fishguard landing of 1797 the church's chalice, paten and communion table church was reportedly looted by French troops, although they were later recovered.

The church is a Grade II* listed building, constructed of limestone rubble. It consists of 2-bayed nave, 3-bayed chancel, 2-bayed north aisle (incorporating possible former north chapel) 2-bayed south aisle (incorporating possible former south chapel), and south porch. The square, limestone font bowl with cylindrical stem and square base is thought to be 12th-century in date. It was reportedly recovered from a local farm in 1880?1882. The nave and chancel date to the thirteenth?fourteenth century. The north and south aisle east bays, which may have formerly been chapels, date to the 14th century. The north and south aisle west bays date to the fifteenth century. The porch was built against the south aisle west wall around 1500. The nave retains most of its medieval features and the east bay side walls are corbelled for the former rood loft, which would have been entered via the small door high in the north wall. The south door has a thirteenth?fourteenth-century 2-centred surround. An internal stone bench extends around the south wall and is thought to be contemporary with the core fabric. The nave's western trusses are substantially medieval ? one of the tie-beams bearing the carved head of a tonsured priest, which probably dates to the fifteenth century and is a unique survival of medieval carving in the region.During repairs in 2002/2003 a fragmentary painted inscription was uncovered in the south aisle. The church was restored in 1882, to the specifications of E.H. Lingen Barker of London, Hereford and Tenby, although the upper 2m of the chancel were rebuilt at this time by Ewan Christian. The porch floor was lowered at this time and new windows were inserted into existing openings in the nave and aisles. The three medieval windows were rebuilt to varying extents and the interior was replastered. Six cross-incised stones (NPRNs 422430, 422431, 422432, 422433, 422434, 421734) were found at this time and incorporated into the current fabric.

Sources include:
Cambria Archaeology, 2000, Carmarthenshire Churches, gazetteer, 48
Cambria Archaeology, 2003, Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Sites Project, Pembrokeshire gazetteer

N Vousden, 12 January 2018