Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Cat in a Box and some local churches

Snowy . . .

This is Snowy (properly Snowy II, Son of Snowy aka White Cat) who arrived as a stray a few months after his father, also a stray, died last year. He was completely feral - no cat could have been wilder than this one was - he would run off at the sight of a person, though he came twice a day to be fed by us. However, we managed to catch him in a live-catch cat trap, and took him to be neutered. After that we continued feeding him and very gradually he became tamer, allowed us to touch him, stroke him, then just before Christmas last year he came into the kitchen and never left! He is SUCH a softy, and loves to be fussed and stroked (and FED). Here he is showing the natural affinity of the cat and the box (which my friend Leanne - who is moving house - has already remarked upon - several times in fact!) The fact that this is merely a shoe box leaves him undaunted and he spent last night asleep in it.

Today the rain continued and it was thoroughly miserable. We (my husband and myself) had planned to visit two local churches which were mentioned in a book we have from the library, "Around God's Acre in south-western Wales." Now at this point I feel I must stand up and be counted. I must now be officially "old". Even two years ago I thought that only old fogies could possibly be interested in church architecture. I mean - it was so . . . boring, wasn't it? I can't quite pin down the exact moment I changed, but I did, and now we go and visit old churches and take photos, but only when there isn't an old house or a museum or some decent archaeology to seek out.

Our first church was at Llangunnor, which is just outside of Carmarthen, and has the most stunning views along the Towy Valley towards Black Mountain and the Brecon Beacons beyond. Today you will just have to take my word for it, as this was the only photo of the view that I took, and that was from inside the car:

The white blob must be a raindrop, and the ivy flowers really were pretty in an understated way . . .

Had it been sunny, you would have seen a view something like this, which we took last year:

"Behold Llangunnor leering over the Vale
Portrays a scene to adorn romatic tale.
But more than all the beauties of the site,
Its former owner gives the mind delight.
Is there a heart that can affection feel
For lands so Rich to boast a Steele
Who warm for freedom and with virtue fraught,
His country dearly loved and greatly taught,
Whose words the pure Stile conveys
T'instruct his Britain to the last of days."

(This verse from a memorial to Sir Richard Steele inside the church).

The church is surrounded by ten massive yew trees, each in excess of a thousand years old. The red colouring of this yew trunk is reminiscent of the "Bleeding Yews" of Nevern in Pembrokeshire, another ancient church.

It is dedicated to St Cynnwr, who is said to have been one of the disciples of Wales' patron saint, Dewi Sant (St. David) and the name of Llangunnor is a corruption of Llan and the saint's name. The site is very old, and the church would have been established on the site where St Cynnwr preached. "Llan" means meeting place, enclosure, in Welsh - often associated ecclesiastically with the age of saints from the 5th - 8th centuries. Just inside the porch of the church at Llangunnor is a small early Celtic cross embedded in the wall. The actual church was locked, a sad reflection on society in this day and age.

The rain scarcely eased when we arrived at our next local church at Llanarthne. This was locked too, which was a great disappointment as we wanted to see and take photographs of the inscribed cross from Cae'r Castell, an earthwork some two miles distant. It is apparently 7 feet tall, with a rounded top and equal arms. There is some simple interlace and a badly cut inscription which could be a mixture of Latin and Norman French, which would give it a 12th century date. In Cyril Treharne's book, which we had with us today, he states the reading as:

'Dierci et grace mare dic elmon fecit ho crucem'. "If this reading is correct we might believe it refers to Meredic who is none other than the great chieftain who appears in early Welsh genealogies as Moreuddig Warwidd whose descendants are said to have lived around Talgarth in Breconshire. This chieftain's burial took place at Llanarthne during a raid of the followers of Bernard Newbarch from Brecon around the end of the eleventh century. However, according to Professor Brown of Cambridge, there is another reading of the inscription as follows: 'Elmat fecit hank crusom pro anima sua' - 'Elmat erected this cross for his own soul.' "

There is some suggestion that there may have indeed been an Abbey within the parish, and I have noticed the wording 'Cefn Abbey' (Abbey Rise) on the road from Llanarthne towards Porthyryd, though there is no record of any Abbey here.

1 comment:

Cookie Sunshine said...

Even with the rain your photos are beautiful.