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Holy Wells in the Kidwelly area
Ffynnonau Sanctaidd yng Nghydweli
Christine Davies
Topics covered:
• Key wells in the Kidwelly area
• Why so many wells?
• Why were they ‘holy’?
Mediaeval wells in Kidwelly
from ‘Archwilio’
From ‘Archwilio’, the Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER
[http://www.cofiadurcahc...
From: Carmarthenshire Gleanings (Kidwelly)
by Rev. GRUFFYDD EVANS,B.D.
[http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Articles/Gleaning...
From: Hughes, E. (1999) Kidwelly: A History
And even more!
4
4
5
3
2
6
9
1
5
7
Key
1. Ffynnon Mihangel
2. Pistyll Teilo
3. Ffynnon Stockwell
4. Ffynnon Cobswell
5. St Ellen’s Well
6...
Modern OS map
Spring
Well
More details of individuals wells
Ffynnon Cobswell
From: Ings, M. (2012) Mediaeval and Early Post-Mediaeval Holy Wells: A threat-related assessment. Dyfed
A...
Ffynnon Stockwell
From: Ings, M. (2012) Mediaeval and Early Post-Mediaeval Holy Wells: A threat-related assessment. Dyfed
...
More about Ffynnon Stockwell
Re: PRN:1636
“The site was visited during the Cadw Holy Wells project of
2011. A dressed, sto...
Ffynnon Fair/ Ffynnon Fair yn yr Alefed
From:
Jones, F. (1952) Holy Wells of Wales. University of Wales Press.
“…in Arvell...
Ffynnon Fair
From: Hughes, E. (2003) Kidwelly: Memories of Yesteryear.
Location of Ffynnon Fair
From: National Library of Scotland online maps,
http://maps.nls.uk/view/102179936
Ffynnon Fair, Jan 2017
Setting of Ffynnon Fair
Ffynnon Mihangel
http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32247/details/ffynnon-
mihangelsaint-michells-wellmichaells-wellst-mich...
Pistyll Teilo
from: Excavations at Capel Teilo, Kidwelly, 1966–1969, by G. R. JONES
[http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Arti...
Ffynnon Sul
http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32251/details/ffynnon-sul-kidwelly
Ffynnon Saint, Llansaint
From : http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32249/details/ffynnon-
saint-llansaint
“…its waters are reputed to cure eye and stomach complaints and were frequently
drunk with brown sugar. The latest date wh...
Why so many wells? Role of Geology
Limestone
seam
around
coalfield
Mediaeval wells throughout south-west wales
Source: Archwilio
Why are so many of Kidwelly’s wells ‘holy’?
Criteria for a ‘holy’ well:
• Dedication to a saint
• Location close to place ...
Key holy wells in Wales and the UK:
association with saints
By Nabokov at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,
https://commons...
Carmarthenshire Gleanings (Kidwelly)
by Rev. GRUFFYDD EVANS
[http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Articles/Gleanings.htm#27]
“...
From: John, T. and Rees, M. (2002) Pilgrimage: A Welsh Perspective. Llandysul: Gomer Press.
Holy links: Pilgimage routes i...
Gerald of Wales
Gerald of Wales (1188): The Journey through Wales
/ The description of Wales
Picture from: http://michaelf...
Pilgrims in Kidwelly
• Approaching via Pembrey
Mountain and Pont Spwdwr:
(Pont Yspydwr): the bridge of
the Knights Hospita...
Pilgrimage route out of Kidwelly
• Portway / Ferry way?
(and is the labelling in
Rees’ map correct?)
• Ffynnon Sul/
Stockw...
Pilgrimage west of Kidwelly
• Crossing the Tywi: the Knights
Hospitaller? (based at
Slebech)
• St. Antony’s Well (Ffynnon
...
Ffynnon Sant Antwn, Llansteffan
St. David’s / Tyddewi
A long history of ‘holy’ wells in this area?
• Prehistoric times: good source of clean
drinking water
• Iron Age (approx. ...
To conclude…
• Still unsure about the past
role of some wells, and the
origins of some names
• Unclear about the location
...
References
• Bowen, E.G. (1969) Saints, Seaways and Settlements in the Celtic Lands. Cardiff: University of Wales
Press
• ...
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Holy Wells in the Kidwelly area

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A presentation given to the Kidwelly Local History Society on 26.1.17

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Holy Wells in the Kidwelly area

  1. 1. Holy Wells in the Kidwelly area Ffynnonau Sanctaidd yng Nghydweli Christine Davies
  2. 2. Topics covered: • Key wells in the Kidwelly area • Why so many wells? • Why were they ‘holy’?
  3. 3. Mediaeval wells in Kidwelly from ‘Archwilio’ From ‘Archwilio’, the Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER [http://www.cofiadurcahcymru.org.uk/arch/dyfed/english/dyfed_interface.html ] Ffynnon Stockwell and Ffynnon Cobswell Ffynnon Fair yn yr Alefed Ffynnon Mihangel Pistyll Teilo
  4. 4. From: Carmarthenshire Gleanings (Kidwelly) by Rev. GRUFFYDD EVANS,B.D. [http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Articles/Gleanings.htm#27 ] “The only special custom observed in Kidwelly at Easter was the visiting of holy wells, of which there is a large number in the parish. The best known are Ffynnon Fair yn yr Alefed20 (Ale-fed), another Ffynnon Fair on Tyhir Farm, Ffynnon Sul,21 Ffynnon Fihangel in Parc Shon Edward, the famous Pistyll Teilo,22 and possibly Ffynnon Cadwgan near the Gletwyn. There are other noted wells in the Borough, - Ffynnon yr Alderman23 near the Mill, Ffynnon y Gongell24 now in the bed of the Gwendraeth Fach above the Tinplate Works, Ffynnon dan y Gaer on Pantglas Farm, Ffynnon Stockwell, Ffynnon Shon Hugh, Ffynnon Diana,25 Ffynnon Cwm Hed,26 and Ffynnon Cobswell27 under The Arlais.28 … Yet more wells!
  5. 5. From: Hughes, E. (1999) Kidwelly: A History And even more!
  6. 6. 4 4 5 3 2 6 9 1 5 7 Key 1. Ffynnon Mihangel 2. Pistyll Teilo 3. Ffynnon Stockwell 4. Ffynnon Cobswell 5. St Ellen’s Well 6. Ffynnon Fair yn yr Alefed 7. Ffynnon yr Alderman 8. Ffynnon Sul 9. Ffynnon y Gongell 8 Approximate location of Kidwelly’s Wells Based on: Carmarthenshire Gleanings(Kidwelly) Rev. GRUFFYDD EVANS,B.D. [http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Articles/Gleanings.htm#27]
  7. 7. Modern OS map Spring Well
  8. 8. More details of individuals wells
  9. 9. Ffynnon Cobswell From: Ings, M. (2012) Mediaeval and Early Post-Mediaeval Holy Wells: A threat-related assessment. Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Dyfed Archaeological Trust: Historic Environment Record (HER): Cobswell definitely not the same as Stockwell, and still producing water today (see picture). Origin of name ‘Cobswell’ not clear: well for cobs? Link to ‘cob’ meaning a small headland? Anglicised version of a French word?
  10. 10. Ffynnon Stockwell From: Ings, M. (2012) Mediaeval and Early Post-Mediaeval Holy Wells: A threat-related assessment. Dyfed Archaeological Trust. From: Jones, F. (1952) Holy Wells of Wales. University of Wales Press. Origin of name? Odd that Ffynnon Stockwell isn’t actually near Stockwell Lane
  11. 11. More about Ffynnon Stockwell Re: PRN:1636 “The site was visited during the Cadw Holy Wells project of 2011. A dressed, stone lined square hollow, bordered by the hedge boundary to west and south and by loose boulders to east and north, was recorded in the southwest corner of the front garden of Rhiwlon Farm. An earth dug water channel feeds into northeast side of this feature, providing an overflow from the extensive pond. It was difficult to determine how much, if any, of the feature may have been original. The rockery surround and water channel look to be relatively recent alterations but the stone lining is possibly much earlier. The feature is apparently no longer used as a well and was dry/silted up at the time of the visit. It appears that any water runs off to the modern drain close by. A spring located to the north of Rhiwlon Farm (PRN 1637) feeds the pond. It is uncertain whether PRN 1636 or the nearby spring PRN 1637 is the site recorded on Rees’ map (1932)” Stockwell still producing water today (see picture) From: Ings, M. (2012) Mediaeval and Early Post-Mediaeval Holy Wells: A threat-related assessment. Dyfed Archaeological Trust:-
  12. 12. Ffynnon Fair/ Ffynnon Fair yn yr Alefed From: Jones, F. (1952) Holy Wells of Wales. University of Wales Press. “…in Arvell Meade, a field to the north of Kidwelly Castle” (Buckley, 1971) [is ‘Arvell Meade’ the origin of ‘Alefed’?]
  13. 13. Ffynnon Fair From: Hughes, E. (2003) Kidwelly: Memories of Yesteryear.
  14. 14. Location of Ffynnon Fair From: National Library of Scotland online maps, http://maps.nls.uk/view/102179936
  15. 15. Ffynnon Fair, Jan 2017
  16. 16. Setting of Ffynnon Fair
  17. 17. Ffynnon Mihangel http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32247/details/ffynnon- mihangelsaint-michells-wellmichaells-wellst-michaels-well
  18. 18. Pistyll Teilo from: Excavations at Capel Teilo, Kidwelly, 1966–1969, by G. R. JONES [http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Articles/CapelTeilo/CapelTeilo.htm ] From: Ings, M. (2012) Mediaeval and Early Post-Mediaeval Holy Wells: A threat-related assessment. Dyfed Archaeological Trust.
  19. 19. Ffynnon Sul http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32251/details/ffynnon-sul-kidwelly
  20. 20. Ffynnon Saint, Llansaint From : http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32249/details/ffynnon- saint-llansaint
  21. 21. “…its waters are reputed to cure eye and stomach complaints and were frequently drunk with brown sugar. The latest date when I am aware that this custom was practised at this pistyll was in 1953. In addition to its specific remedies, the water appears to have achieved a general reputation not only for its curative properties but also its holiness. An inhabitant of Llansaint told me that when his mother-in-law ‘was very low, indeed dying, nothing would satisfy her but that she should have a drink of dwr o Giniwil [Giniwil water]’. This incident occurred after World War II. It is probable that the meaning of Giniwil resides in the meaning of the element Gini [= ‘guinea’].” Pistyll Giniwil, Llansaint: (SN 30 378084) From: Buckley, K (1971) ‘Some Holy Wells of South Carmarthenshire’ [online] Available at : http://people.bath.ac.uk/liskmj/living- spring/sourcearchive/ns3/ns3kb1.htm
  22. 22. Why so many wells? Role of Geology Limestone seam around coalfield
  23. 23. Mediaeval wells throughout south-west wales Source: Archwilio
  24. 24. Why are so many of Kidwelly’s wells ‘holy’? Criteria for a ‘holy’ well: • Dedication to a saint • Location close to place of worship • Curative properties/ votive offerings (attractive to pilgrims)
  25. 25. Key holy wells in Wales and the UK: association with saints By Nabokov at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curi d=17668829 St. Winifrede’s well at Holywell, Clwyd, N. Wales St. Non’s well at St. David’s
  26. 26. Carmarthenshire Gleanings (Kidwelly) by Rev. GRUFFYDD EVANS [http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Articles/Gleanings.htm#27] “…Most of the holy wells, and indeed some of the others, were famed for their medicinal virtues. There was, however, no trace of the custom of hanging shreds of cloth on the bushes near by these “healing waters”. The bent pin and the wishing were not unknown, but the most common feature was the drinking of the waters, sweetened with sugar. For this purpose some persons kept special cups, which on no account were to be used in the domestic service… …It must be admitted that even fifty years ago the visits were not confined to wells which unquestionably had ecclesiastical associations, and Ffynnon Stockwell was the most popular well in the ‘latter days’.”
  27. 27. From: John, T. and Rees, M. (2002) Pilgrimage: A Welsh Perspective. Llandysul: Gomer Press. Holy links: Pilgimage routes in South Wales A large part of this route was referred to as the ‘Portway’
  28. 28. Gerald of Wales Gerald of Wales (1188): The Journey through Wales / The description of Wales Picture from: http://michaelfaletra.weebly.com/itinerarium-kambrie.html
  29. 29. Pilgrims in Kidwelly • Approaching via Pembrey Mountain and Pont Spwdwr: (Pont Yspydwr): the bridge of the Knights Hospitaller? • Then Monksford Street • St. Mary’s Church/ Benedictine Priory (St Cadoc before that?) (& Ffynnon Dewi?) • Ffynnon Fair (and other wells)? • Pilgrims may also have arrived at Kidwelly by boat from Gower/ South West England (John and Rees, 2002)
  30. 30. Pilgrimage route out of Kidwelly • Portway / Ferry way? (and is the labelling in Rees’ map correct?) • Ffynnon Sul/ Stockwell/ Cobswell? • Ffynnon Saint/ Giniwil? • St Leonard’s Chapel (& St Ishmael’s) Rees’ 1932 map of 14th Century Wales
  31. 31. Pilgrimage west of Kidwelly • Crossing the Tywi: the Knights Hospitaller? (based at Slebech) • St. Antony’s Well (Ffynnon Sant Antwn), Llansteffan • Llandeilo Abercywyn (Sant Teilo), and the ‘Pilgrim’s Rest’ • Llanfihangel Abercywyn (Sant Mihangel)- gravestones • Then to St. Clears, Whitland, and Roman road to Wiston, and finally St. David’sFrom: John, T. and Rees, M. (2002) Pilgrimage: A Welsh Perspective. Llandysul: Gomer Press.
  32. 32. Ffynnon Sant Antwn, Llansteffan
  33. 33. St. David’s / Tyddewi
  34. 34. A long history of ‘holy’ wells in this area? • Prehistoric times: good source of clean drinking water • Iron Age (approx. 2000BC- 0): possible association with Celtic veneration of water • Romans (55AD to 400AD): also had gods for water • Christian Church in Wales (approx. 400AD onwards): wells associated with Welsh saints (6th century) and pilgrimages? • Post-reformation (1534): old practices persist as local customs, linked to Christianity?
  35. 35. To conclude… • Still unsure about the past role of some wells, and the origins of some names • Unclear about the location of some wells • All information gratefully received!
  36. 36. References • Bowen, E.G. (1969) Saints, Seaways and Settlements in the Celtic Lands. Cardiff: University of Wales Press • Bowen, E.G (1954) The settlements of the Celtic Saints in Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press • Buckley, K (1971) ‘Some Holy Wells of South Carmarthenshire’ [online] Available at : http://people.bath.ac.uk/liskmj/living-spring/sourcearchive/ns3/ns3kb1.htm • Davies, W. (1982) Wales in the Early Middles Ages. Leicester University Press. • Evans, G. (?) ‘Carmarthenshire Gleanings (Kidwelly)’ [online] Available at: http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Articles/Gleanings.htm • Gerald of Wales (1188; published 1978) The Journey through Wales / The description of Wales. Penguin Books, Middlesex. • Hughes, E. (1999) Kidwelly: A History. Published by the author. • Hughes, E. (2003) Kidwelly: Memories of Yesteryear. Published by the author. • Ings, M. (2012) Mediaeval and Early Post-Mediaeval Holy Wells: A threat-related assessment. Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Available at: http://www.dyfedarchaeology.org.uk/projects/holywells.pdf • James, H. (1980) ‘Topographical Notes on the Early Mediaeval Borough of Kidwelly’. Carmarthenshire Antiquary • Jones, F. (1952) Holy Wells of Wales. University of Wales Press. • John, T. and Rees, M. (2002) Pilgrimage: A Welsh Perspective. Llandysul: Gomer Press. • Morris, W.H. (?) ‘A Kidwelly Town Rental of The Early 16th Century; Temp. Henry VII, 1499 to 1504’. [online] Available at: http://www.kidwellyhistory.co.uk/Surveys/svy1500.htm • Rees, W (1932) A map of Wales and the Borders. University of Wales Press. • Rees, W (1952) A Historical Atlas of Wales. University of Wales Press.

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