Llanddew : near Brecon, Powys, South Wales    Llanddew : near Brecon, Powys, South Wales
Historical Notes & Points of Interest

Home | Llanddew Well & Saint Eluned | The Name & A History | John Lane Davies | Church of Saint David | Reginald F. Vincent


A Victorian History & The Village Name Debate

Contents of this Page:-


Introduction to John Lane Davies

Lane Davies’ Notes & History of Llanddew 1872

Notes from the Brecon meeting of the C.A.A. 1872

Record of C.A.A. field-trip to Llanddew 1872

First letter from “CERETICUS” about origin of Llanddew

Lane Davies’ reply to “CERETICUS”

Last word from “CERETICUS”

Closing notes on the debate


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It would be impossible to compile a history of Llanddew without, at some point, mentioning the life and times of The Rev. John Lane Davies.

A separate article about Lane Davies will be posted elsewhere on this website; but at this point, it will suffice to say that he was the energetic Vicar for Llanddew and Battle, for most of the second half of the 19th century, and was the driving force behind the building of the Rectory, and the restoration of, the then dilapidated, Church of Saint David in Llanddew.


Below, we reproduce the text of A History of Llanddew, presented by Lane Davies, to the Brecon Meeting, of the Cambrian Archaeological Association in 1872 (and published in ‘Archaeologia Cambrensis’ in 1873 ).

This is followed by the report of the Associations “field trip” to Llanddew which occured latter that year (1872).


Within the text of JLD’s article, we reproduce the engravings included in the original “Archaeologia Cambrensis” article; these engravings were NOT produced by JLD's hand, but were by Longueville Jones, and others by Freeman. They were produced many years before JLD's article. We also insert recent photographs of some of the same items, for comparison.


In his initial presentation, Lane Davies proposes that, it is impossible to be certain of the derivation of the name “Llanddew”, but he continues to offer the three main hypotheses; he only suggests a personal leaning toward the idea of “the-church-of-David” LlanDewi….. 


….but, the publication of his article sparked off an exhaustive (and largely contradictory) debate on the subject, conducted by public letters in the journal ‘Archaeologia Cambrensis’, and instigated by an enigmatic character, who chose to go by the pseudonym “CERETICUS”.

We include this public correspondence bellow… not just, because the topic is relevant, but also, because the letters provide an interesting insight into the intellectual pursuits of two sparring members of mid-Victorian gentry, (with CERETICUS insisting on getting in, the last word ! ).




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 (Read at the Brecon Meeting, of the Cambrian archaeological association 1872.)


LLANDDEW, like many other Welsh proper names which have occupied the attention of the philologist, has at best a doubtful derivation and an unsettled orthogra­phy. The most common way in which the word is at present spelt is Llanthew. This is simply an Anglicised form, and claims no further notice. In the manorial records and in Pope Nicholas’ Taxation the word is written Landon, but upon what ground does not appear. The other two forms, Llandduw and Llanddew, call for some attention, as they are deduced from independent sources, each of them laying claim to the correct deriva­tion. The former, Llandduw (the church of God) agrees with the derivation given by Giraldus, who says, “Llandeu ecclesia Dei sonat”. The latter, Llanddew, as an abbreviation of Llanddewi (the church of St. David’s), is the orthography and derivation adopted by Mr. Theo­philus Jones, the historian of Brecknockshire. Those who follow the derivation given by Giraldus extend the word Duw to mean the Holy Trinity; and in confirma­tion of their opinion quote Ecton, who states that the church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity; and they add that the wake, or feast, is still held on Trinity Sunday. But against this argument it may be urged that there is no instance in the Principality of a church dedicated to the Triune God under the form Llan-dduw. Llan y Drindod we have; and if this church had been Trinity Church, it would, doubtless, like a church in Radnorshire, have been called Liandrindod; while with regard to the feast being held on Trinity Sunday, nume­rous instances may be cited where the feast is not held on the patron saint’s day.

On the other hand, it must be observed, as going against the other derivation, that it is singular that the final i should have been dropped in Llanddew(i) whilst it is retained in Llanddewi Brefi, Llanddewi Abergwessin, and other instances. Still it is quite possible that the final i in these instances may have been preserved by the appended words. Without, however, presuming to decide which of these derivations is the correct one; I am disposed to think that the balance of probabilities is in favour of Llanddew for Llanddewi (the church of St. David). And this view is strengthened, if not fully confirmed, by an entry made in a register at Abergwili so far back as the fourteenth century, in which Guy de Mona, who was elevated to the see of St. David in 1397, and who then resided at his palace at Llanddew, is described as the Lord Bishop of Llanddew, otherwise Llanddewi.

The village of Llanddew is situated about a mile and three quarters to the north-east of the town of Breck­nock, and contains the bulk of the population of the parish, which, according to the last census, was 320, but in 1801 was only 174, from which it appears that the population has doubled itself in the last seventy years. The chief places of interest to the archaeologist are the ancient parish church, and the site and remains of the Palace of the Bishops of St. David’s. There are, however, within the parish some other places of suffi­cient interest to deserve a passing notice.

On the Hay road, about two miles from Brecon, is a tenement called “Troed yr Harn”, a corruption of “Tref Trehaern” (the home or residence of Trehaern), the place having been a part of the possessions, and one of the mansions, of Trehaern Fychan, one of the descendants of Gwrgan ab Bleddyn, a man of great power in Breck­nockshire. A legend in connexion with this place states that Trehaern Fychan having come to Llangors to meet William de Breos, with the intention of holding a friendly conference, was treacherously seized by his orders, then fastened to a horse’s tail, and in this manner dragged through the streets of Brecon to the gallows, where he was beheaded, and afterwards suspended by his feet.

Adjoining the farm is another tenement called “Alex­anderstone”, to which is attached an ancient manor belonging to Lord Tredegar, called “Alexanderstone” and “Mara Mota”, comprehending parcels of this and two or three other parishes.

Close to the farmhouse is a mound measuring, east and west, 75 feet; south and north, 57 feet; height, 15 ft.



As to its original purpose, whether intended as a place of interment for the individual whose name the property bears, or for any other particular use (a plan and section, with dimensions, are appended), I would, rather than hazard a conjecture, leave the solution of the problem to the fancy or ingenuity of the antiquary., (1)

(1) If we may form an opinion from the engraving of this mound, we might suggest that it has all the appearance of having been, at one time, surmounted by some building, more probably of some stronghold. — ED. Arch. Camb.


Proceeding hence for about a quarter of a mile along the road that leads from Troed yr Harm to the village, we come to a small tenement commonly called “Standel,” but which, it is conjectured, should properly be written Standard, from a tradition that it was the spot where the standard of Henry VII was fixed when part of his troops, under the command of Sir Rhys ab Thomas, marched through this county in their route from Mil­ford Haven to join their leaders at Shrewsbury. Pro­ceeding another quarter of a mile to the north-west we come to another tenement which, on account of its orthography, deserves a passing remark. It is Peytin Du. This farm, with the other two adjoining it, Peytin Gwyn and Peytin Glas (in the parish of Llandefaelog fach), were purchased by Llewelyn, the father of Sir David Gam, from William Peyton, after whom the tene­ments were called; hence Peytin, a corruption of Peyton, the appended words du, gwyn, glas being probably in­tended to describe respectively the colour of the soil. Peytin Gwyn derives some historical importance from having been the early residence, if not the birth place of Sir David Gam, who took so active a part in the political contests of his time as the zealous partizan of the house of Lancaster, and was the bitter opponent of the celebrated chieftain of North Wales, Owain Glyn­dwr, who was equally zealous and active in favour of the House of York. Sir David was the son of Llewelyn ab Howel Vaughan, and as is well known was called Gam from his squinting, a name he has handed down to his descendants the Gams and Games of the present time.



Returning to the village the chief object of interest is the parish church, which is one of the earliest in the county, and which may perhaps claim a seniority over the parish church of St. John, Brecon. It is a build­ing of the thirteenth century, as will be seen from the accompanying engraving from a drawing by the late Mr. Longueville Jones. Like many other churches it has undergone at different periods a great number of alterations, but with the exception of the nave, which is of late and barbarous work, the original church re­mains nearly intact as to outline and character. The building is cruciform, with lancet windows, which appear originally to have been surmounted with handsome free-stone mouldings. The intersection of the transepts with the body of the church is surmounted by a clumsy low tower erected in 1623, and probably the successor of one much superior in every way. Of the four bells it once contained there are now only two left, the others having, it appears, been sold and the proceeds appro­priated to some of the aforesaid alterations, which so disfigure the ancient pile. The south transept, like that of the priory, is called Capel y Cochiaid (the chapel of the red-haired men, or Normans). This chapel has been blocked off from the rest of the building, and was some years ago used as a schoolroom. Its gable is dis­figured by a small square window, and surmounted by an unsightly brick chimney, altogether presenting a most melancholy appearance. The other transept is remark­able for an exceedingly slender lancet in the east wall, set in a tall altar recess. The long chancel is a perfect specimen of the style of the period. “It is,” says Mr. Freeman, “with its three lancets on each side, its east­ern triplet, its trefoil-headed priest’s door, unsurpassed for the combination of perfect plainness with perfect excellence.” Under the tower is a massive font of the twelfth century, remarkable for its rudeness, as will be seen from the representation here given from a drawing by the same hand. There are also in the usual place the remains of a piscina. The stoup belonging to this church was, I have been informed, discovered some years ago in a cottage in the village by the same accomplished antiquary, the Rev. H. Longueville Jones. (2)

(2) See Arch. Camb., 3rd Series, vol. xiv, p. 167

It is now in the possession of the treasurer of the Associ­ation, who has promised to replace it as soon as the church shall be restored. In the walls of the chancel are two corbels, which were probably used for support­ing images, and in the corners near the tower are blocks of masonry which appear to have been put there to support some alterations made in the church, and not, I think, as has been supposed, to block up hagioscopes of the existence of which there is, at present at least, not the slightest trace. [These two hagioscopes were revealed and unblocked during the subsequent restoration works. M.E.V 2003]

There are no ancient monu­ments in this church, but the walls of the chancel are disfigured by numerous tasteless modern tablets, on which are inscribed epitaphs and poetical effusions which mark an era that happily is passing away. In the chancel floor is a stone slab in a good state of preserva­tion, bearing the following inscription: “Here lyeth the body of James Powell of Troed yr Harn, gent., son of Thomas Powell by Catherine his wife, one of the daugh­ters of Aurilius (sic) Williams, in the county of Mon­mouth, Doctor of Physick, who died the 27th day of March in the 28th year of his age, and in the year of our Lord God 1698.” In the east wall of the tower, near the stone commemorating its rebuilding, are the arms of William Havard and William Griffith, the then churchwardens. The arms of Havard are a bull’s head; that of Griffith a lion rampant. Near the church, separated only by the village road, is the site upon which once stood the palace of the distinguished Giraldus Cambrensis, and which still contains the remains of one of the palaces of the bishops of St. David’s, pro­bably built by Bishop Gower in the fourteenth century. The site is oblong in shape, and covers about an acre and a quarter of ground. It is bounded on the west and north by the old walls, now in a dilapidated state, on the east by a hedge, and on the south by a part of the old wall, and the remains of a handsome gothic arch, which the accompanying engraving represents.




The western wall contains a semicircular bastion, and. an exceedingly fine well, which yields an abundant and constant supply of the purest water. The well is arched over and so divided as to leave one half for the supply of the outside village and the other half for private use within the walls. This well, and the arch above mentioned, are of the fourteenth century, and bear traces of the work of that zealous promoter of church architecture, the good Bishop Gower. When, however, the original building, the one probably inhabited by Giraldus, was erected, or came into the hands of the bishops of St. David’s, there are, I believe, no records to show.

In a statute made by Bishop Gower in A.D. 1342 to discharge and exonerate the bishops of St. David’s from keeping up more episcopal castles and houses than were necessary six other places of residence, and this of Llanddew, were ordered to be supported and maintained. Leland, in speaking of this place, gives the following account of it :——“Llanedu, a mile from Brecknock, a lordship of the Bishop of St. David’s, where was some time a very faiyre place of the Bishop of St. David’s, but now nothing but an onsemeli ruine. The Archdeacon of Brecknock hath a house even there, and that is also fallen dowen for the most part.” After this description, given so far back by the accurate Leland, it is scarcely necessary to add that of the episcopal palace, except a few traces of the foundation discovered whilst levelling the ground about the vicarage recently built upon the site, very little now remains. [A tantalising throw-away comment about the layout of the internal buildings of the Palace; apparently, no records were kept of their locations.. M.E.V. 2003]



On the north side of the site, however, considerable portions of the walls of what has erroneously been called the chapel are still standing. The fact of this building being one of two stories appears to be incompatible with such a statement, and favours rather the opinion of its having been the great hall of the palace The north wall, 47 feet long, containing portions of three lancets, and the two ends, 22 feet wide, with a lancet in each, are in part remaining; but of the south wall shown in Buck’s engraving nothing is left but the foundation.

Interesting as this place is, for so many reasons, it nevertheless derives its great historical interest from its connection with the renowned and I may say extraordinary Archdeacon of Brecon, Giraldus Cambrensis. It is associated with some of the most stirring and interesting episodes in his eventful history, and is frequently mentioned by him in his writings in terms of much commendation. In one place he thus complacently alludes to it: “In those temperate regions I have obtained (according to the usual expression) a place of dignity, but no great omen of future pomp or riches; and possessing a small residence near the Castle of Brecheiniog, well adapted to literary pursuits and the contemplation of eternity. I envy not the riches of Croesos; happy and contented with that mediocrity which I prize far beyond all the perishable and transitory things of this world. It was here, in 1187, [sic. now usually accepted as 1188. M.E.V. 2003] he entertained no less a personage than Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, having come into Wales on his crusading mission, and having succeeded in making a convert of Giraldus (who was the first to take the cross), stayed over the night with the Archdeacon at his palace. In Hoare’s Itinerary we read:  “The word of the Lord being preached at Llanddew, we spent there the night. The Archdeacon of that place having presented to the Archbishop his work on the topography of Ireland, he graciously received it; and either read, or heard a part of it read, every day during his journey, and on his return to England completed the perusal of it.” It was from Llanddew he accompanied the Archbishop on his mission through Wales; and when the evil tidings were communicated to him, as he was returning home from the wilds of Cardiganshire, of the seizure of all the lands belonging to the see of St. David, by William de Breos on behalf of the King, it was to his palace at Llanddew he alluded when he addressed those cheering words to his companions “Have we not some good ale at home? Let us go and drink it before it be all gone.”


Llanddew Vicarage June 5th, 1873.



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Records from the Cambrian archaeological association Meeting on AUGUST 29th 1872


 ………….  The Rev. J. Lane Davies followed with a paper on Llanddew Church and its adjoining ruins. The name itself has furnished grounds for different opinions, but it is probably a corrupt form of Liandewi, i.e. the LIan of St. David, and not LIan Duw, or the Ecclesia Dei of Giraldus. This paper, which will appear shortly in the Journal, gave an excellent account of the parish.

The President, in returning the thanks of the meeting to Mr. Davies, pointed out to the meeting what an important service would be rendered, not only to archaeology in general, but more particularly to the history of the county, if every clergyman would contribute all that he could learn of the history of his church and parish.

Other papers were waiting to be read, but the lateness of the hour rendering it impossible, the meeting broke up, after the announce­ment from the Chairman of the excursion of the following day.



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Excursion on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30th 1872


Before starting [from Brecon] for Llanddew Church and the other objects men­tioned in the programme, the remains of the town walls were examined, under the guidance of Mr. Baskerville Jones. These remains are neither extensive nor important; the best portion being what was the water-gate. Other parts, including one or two bastions, stand in the garden of Mr. Overton, the mayor, who re­ceived the numerous visitors in the most hospitable manner; after which the carriages proceeded on their way; a large number, how­ever, of the members and others preferred walking; both sections, however, meeting together at Llanddew.

This church, although from the non-residence of the incumbents from time immemorial it has fallen into a neglected and somewhat dilapidated state, is one of the most interesting edifices in the county, even with its later and indifferent nave. The church is cruciform, but access could not be obtained into the north chancel, which is built off from the church. The south transept (nearly blocked up by a huge mass of modern masonry supporting the rude stairs leading to the belfry) has in its east wall a very early lancet, which opened immediately over an alter. The remains of the alter, or rather the masonry connected with it are, still existing and indi­cate that it has been removed with some violence, and the damaged wall never made good.

[sic. It would appear that, in the paragraph above, the chronicler has mistaken the south transept for the north transept, and visa versa.  M.E.V. 2003]

The proportions of the chancel windows, and especially the priest's door, are good examples of thirteenth century work. Some rude corbels are inserted in each wall, which were thought by Mr. Bloxam to have been merely supports of statues. They certainly have nothing to do with the construction. The hagioscopes on each side have long since been blocked up, pro­bably when the chancel ceased to be used for service. The nave is poor work of the fifteenth century, and not improved by the ar­rangement of fittings, etc., which, however, under the peculiar circumstances of the church, cannot be a matter of surprise. The central tower is excessively low, surmounted with a pyramidical kind of roof, stated by Lewis to have been placed there in 1621.

The remains of one of the many palaces of the Bishop of St. David’s stand on the other side of the road opposite to the church. Little of it is remaining but the ruins of the great hall, with its substructure, the windows of which are narrow loops. The entrance to the hall was by what is sometimes taken for a window. Buck’s view represents the building with both sides, the inner one of which has long since vanished. Part of the wall, with a semicircular bastion, which once enclosed the residence and grounds, remains, and near it is the large well, built under the wall, so as to enable those outside to share the water with the inmates. A very elegant doorway of the fourteenth century still remaining is pronounced by a writer in the Archaeologia Cambrensis to be the undoubted work of Bishop Gower (1328-1347). This Bishop, fond as he appears to have been of building, did not approve of having too many buildings to repair, so in 1342 the Chapter and Bishop ordered only seven residences to be retained, of which Llanddew was one for the Deanery of Brecon (see Jones and Freeman’s History of St. David’s, p. 190). Llanddew church is figured in the late Mr. Petit’s Church Architecture.

A rough walk led to Pitin-gwyn, the name given to an artificial mound and a farmhouse near its base. It is stated that on the mound once stood the castle or abode of David Gam, whose succes­sors in after times changed their residence to the house below, the date of which is not indicated by any details, but from the general character of the building, it may be considered not older than the seventeenth century. The mound is older than the time of David Gam, whose ancestors, however, may have preceded him as occu­piers of this stronghold.

The walk was continued thence amid the most charming views to Llandefaelog-vach churchyard, in which exists the remarkable stone, figured and described by Mr. Westwood in the Archaeologia Cam­brensis of 1858, p. 306, and here reproduced. The execution of the figure is barbarously rude, while the disproportion between the upper and lower parts of the body is remarkable. ...........




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Correspondence to the Editor of Archaeologia Cambrensis. 1874




SIR, - Much as I value the Rev. J. Lane Davies’ paper on Llanddew which appeared in your Journal for July last, I cannot think that he  succeeded to make out a case in favour of Llanddew being a contraction or corruption of Llanddewi (St. David’s Church). There are about a dozen churches in Wales called after Dewi or St. David, some with and some without an additional designation, but in no in­stance does the final i disappear. The supposition, therefore, that Llanddew represents Llanddewi is a case without a parallel in the nomenclature of Welsh churches. Mr. Davies seems to think that the opinion of the scribe who describes Guy de Mona as the “Lord Bishop of Llanddew, otherwise Llanddewi”, strengthens his view, if it does not fully establish it.

An unknown registrar of the latter end of the fourteenth century is not quite the person to appeal to in a case of this sort; but if the conjecture of a mediaeva1 writer is to decide the question, I confess to a bias in favour of a well known scholar like Giraldus Cambrensis, who tells us that Llanddew is equivalent to Llandduw (the Church of God). The fact that Llanddew was at the time one of the resi­dences of the bishops of St. David’s (Ty Ddewi) was, in all probability, sufficient to satisfy the contemporary of De Mona that the derivation which he gives was the correct one, and possibly it was this circumstance that suggested it. Mr. Theophilus Jones possessed no better means of information on the subject than we have; his opinion, therefore, does not affect the question.

I do not know what may be the earlier forms of the name; but “Landon,” the form in which Mr. Davies states it is to be found in Pope Nicholas’ Taxation, is simply a miscript or a misprint for Landou, which brings it sufficiently close in orthography to other churches under the same invocation. The oldest form that I have met with in Welsh writers is Llanddwy, and in this shape it happens to occur in positions where the exact spelling and pronunciation cannot admit of a doubt.

Mae’n Llanddwy ddeufwy o dda

No thri gwerth Groeg a Throia.

Hywel Dafyedd ab Ieuan

Meibion myr llenwyr llanddwy,

Meddiant teg mae iddynt hwy.

Bedo Phylip Bach

These two poets lived about the middle of the fifteenth century, or about half a century later than Bishop Guy de Mona, who died in 1408.

In another poem, which is addressed to the Four Sons of Morgan ab Gwallter of this parish. Hywel Dafydd, who, as appears from his poems, spent much of his time at Peutyn, alludes to the church under the name of Ty’r Drindod (the house of the Trinity).

Er bod wrth Dy’r Drindod draw

Blaid ieuainc yn blodeuaw.

The forms Dwyf and Dwyw (pl. dwyfau and dwywiau) are not in­frequently met with, being modifications of Duw (God), and in words like Dwyf it is no uncommon practice to drop the final f in pronunciation. From Dwyf comes dwyfol (divine), just as duwiol (divine, godly) is formed from Duw. Both Dyfrdwy and Dyfrdwyf are used in the vernacular for the river Dee.

The Church of Llanddew has no connection whatever with Dewi, and there is not a single example in the whole Principality of a church called after his name, which is at the same time dedi­cated to the Holy Trinity. Some churches so dedicated are, we know, called Llandrindod, but the church under consideration, not­withstanding Mr. Davies’ statement to the contrary, is not the only church under the invocation of the Triune God, which is called Llanddew or Llandduw. Lladduw, or as it is now generally spelt Llandow, in Glamorganshire, is a well known instance; and according to Professor Rees, Llandduw was the ancient name of Llandrin­dod in Radnorshire. These three churches have the same dedica­tion, and are, or at least were, called by the same designation.

These considerations, fu1ly satisfy me that the correct name is Llandduw, Llanddwy, or Llanddwyf (the church of God), and that our patron saint Dewi has in reality nothing to do with it.

I am, Sir, yours truly,     CERETICUS




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Correspondence to the Editor of Archaeologia Cambrensis. 1874




Sir, - My attention not having been called in time to the observa­tions of your correspondent, "CERETICUS" on my “Notes on the Parish of Llanddew,” which appeared in the Archaeologia Cambrensis for July, 1873, I was unable to reply to them in the last impression of your Journal. I shall, therefore, be obliged by your insertion of the following remarks in your next issue.

“CERETICUS” gives me credit for attempting more than I lay any claim to. He says that he does not think that I have succeeded in making out a case in favour of” Llanddew” being a contraction of “Llanddewi”. In this conjecture he may be right; and it is quite possible, I think, that he may be wrong, notwithstanding his observ­ations, which display considerable research; and for which, as one desirous of arriving at the true etymology of the word, I beg to thank him. All I attempted in my remarks on the derivation of “Llanddew” was simply to state the arguments which had been adduced by previous writers on the subject; and having done this, I ventured upon the following observation: “Without, however, presuming to decide which of these derivations is the correct one, I am disposed to think that the balance of probabilitiesis in favour of ‘Llanddew’ for ‘Llanddewi’ (the church of St. David); and this view is strengthened, if not fully confirmed, by an entry made in a register at Abergwili so far back as the fourteenth century, in which Guy de Mona, who was elevated to the see of St. David in 1397, and who then resided at his Palace at Llanddew, is described as the Lord Bishop of Llanddew, otherwise Llanddewi.”

“CERETICUS,” however, deals more confidently with the matter, and has no doubt as to the correct derivation. Let us see how he decides the question. In the first place he observes: “An unknown registrar of the latter end of the fourteenth century is not quite the person to appeal to in a case of this sort; but if the conjecture of a mediaeval writer is to decide the question, I confess to a bias in favour of a well known scholar like Giraldus Cambrensis, who tells us that ‘Llanddew’ is equivalent to ‘Llandduw’ (the church of God).” On this point I must beg to differ from your correspondent. The record of a registrar, unknown though he be, who simply states the fact that Llanddew at the time he wrote was otherwise known as Llanddewi, appears to me to be of more value in a case of this sort than the bare opinion of even the distinguished Giraldus, who wrote in Latin, and whose orthography of Llanddew (“ Landeu ecclesia Dei sonat”) would certainly not lead one to regard him as a Welsh authority. Again, to suppose, as “CERETICUS” does, that the circumstance of Llanddew being at the time one of the residences of the bishops of St. David’s, suggested to the conntemporary of De Mona the derivation he gives, is perfectly gratuitous.

“CERETICUS” next observes that Mr. Theophilus Jones, one of the learned authorities I quoted, possessed no better means of information on the subject than we do, and that, therefore, his opinion did not affect the question. I fear outs the ground from under his own feet; arguments of the historian of Brecknockshire, because he did not possess better means of information on the subject than we do (and it can not be denied that he possessed at least as good), are, therefore, to be regarded as an opinion which does not affect the question what, then, become of "CERETICUS's” arguments and opinions?

I am disposed to give every consideration to the form "Llanddwy",

which appears in the Welsh poets quoted by "CERETICUS”, and which he assumes is an abbreviation of "Llanddwyf”; but as poets are pro­verbial for their licences, their evidence must be taken for what it is worth. At all events the form “Llanddwy” is aqually open to the assumption that it is an abbreviation or corruption of "Llan­dewy”, a form that is found in a statute book of St. David's, dated 10th March 1379 (almost a century earlier than the poets above quoted), in the time of Bishop Houghton. In that statute are mentioned among the possessions of the prelates of the see, “manerium exile de Braan tantum pro agricultura et manerium de Llandewy in partibus Brecon.” And among the chattels which every bishop was to transmit to his successor were, “in manerio de Braan unam carucam et octo boves in manerio Llandewy 2 carucas et 16 boves.” And as an illustration of how little reliance can be placed upon the poets for the decision of a disputed point in orthography, I quote a passage from a poem in the works of Lewis Glyn Cothi, edited by Gwallter Mechain and Tegid :


Llewod Morgat, blant un blaid,

Ger bron gwyr yw Barwniaid,

A llew honddoeth gwyr Llan-Dduw,

Yw’r Barwn doeth ger bron Duw.


Here the poet calls the church of St. David’s, Brecon, Llan-Dduw; and in a note at the foot of the page the editors make the following remark: "Llanvaes or St. David’s, a church and parish adjoining the town of Brecknock. it is also called Llan Dduw, corruption of Lien Ddew, and both from Llan Ddewi.”

Finally, “CERETICUS” asserts that “the church of Llanddew has no connection whatever with Dewi, and that there is not a single example in the whole Principality of a church called after this name, which is at the same time dedicated to the Holy Trinity." The latter assertion I can readily admit; but this is begging the whole question. What is there to prove that Llanddew is really dedicated to the Holy Trinity It is true that Professor Rees, in a note at the foot of p.325 of his Welsh Saints (and I speak with due defer­ence to that excellent authority), assumes that because the parish wake is, or rather was, held on Trinity Sunday, the true etymology is “Llandduw” (the church of God); but this cannot be considered as conclusive, for numerous instances can he cited in which the parish wake is held on other days than that of the patron saint. Besides, Carlisle and others state that Llanddew is dedicated to St. David. Until, therefore, "CERETICUS" or some one else furnishes some better proof to substantiate his theory, the true derivation of “Llanddew” must remain as undecided as ever.

In respect to the assertion that Liandrindod in Radnorshire and Llandow in Glamorganshire, were originally called Llanddow, I can only say that it would be much more satisfactory if your correspondent had furnished some better proof than is found in a bare assertion. In brief, until the case is clearly made out, I question whether there is, not only in the Principality, but in Christendom, a single example of a Christian church dedicated to the First Person in the Holy Trinity.


I am, Sir, very truly yours,


J. LANE DAVIES. Llanddew Vicarage: May 25th, 1874.




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Correspondence to the Editor of Archaeologia Cambrensis. 1874




Sir, - You will, perhaps, allow me to append a few words to my note on Llanddew, which appeared in the last number of the Archae­ologia Cambrensis. In the list of the parishes of Wales (Plwyvan Cymru), printed in the Myvyrian Archaiology (ii, 624), Llanddew appears as Llan Ddwy, the identical form used by the bards Hywel Dafydd ab Ieuan and Bedo Phylip Bach; while Llandduw, or Llan­dow, in Gllamorganshire, stands in the same list as Llan Dwv.  The latter name occurs in the Iolo MSS. (p. 221) as Llanddw, the final f or v having been elided; and the church is there stated to have been founded by Towdrig ab Teithfalch, a chieftain and saint of the fifth century.

There are at least a dozen churches in the Principality bearing the name of Llanddewi, and I believe the following is a tolerably complete list :- Llandewi Aberarth and Llanddewi Brefi, Cardigan­shire; Llanddewi Feliffre, Carmarthenshire; Llanddewi Abergwesyn, Breconshire; Llanddewi Ystrad Enni, Llanddewi’r Cwm, and Llan­ddewi Fach Radnorshire; Llanddewi in Gower Glamorganshire; Llanddewi Ysgyryd, Llanddewi Rhydderch, Llanddewi Fach, and Llanddewi Nant Honddu, or Llantoni, Monmouthshire. Among the extinct churches of this name, Professor Rees mentions Llanddewi, subject to Llangammarch, Breconshire; and there is a district church, built a few years ago, near Llanrwst, Denbighshire, which has received the same appellation. None of these names, either colloquially or in the written language are ever shortened into Llan­ddew, but they always receive their full pronunciation in three syllables.


Yours truly,                       CERETICUS.




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One can’t help but wonder, what was the background behind such a debate; and why did CERETICUS choose to use such an apparently obscure pen-name, (and not his real name, as Lane Davies did)…. and would Lane Davies have been a little askance at his anonymity?


It seems possible that CERETICUS was a member of the clergy; ( judging by his knowledge of Latin & Welsh, and the works of obscure, early scribes ).  If this was the case, the prospect exist, that CERETICUS was acquainted with Lane Davies, and may even have been in each other presence during Cambrian Archaeological Association talks and walks. If CERETICUS was a fellow clergyman with Lane Davies, he may have been superior (or inferior) in rank to Lane Davies, and may not have wished this fact to taint their scholarly sparring.


After such an exhaustive debate on the etymology of a name Llanddew, it seems appropriate to ask.. why choose the pen-name “CERETICUS” ?

Some records state that:-   …. St Non , married "a Cereticus", and bore him Saint David.. (although other records suggest that it was in fact, an act of rape)……this may explain why "a parent of Dewi" might be a fitting individual to discuss the root of the second syllable of Llanddew, (LlanDewi)?


But if this was the reason for CERETICUS’s choice of the name, it seems perverse, as he is arguing against Llanddew being named after Dewi..


The name might have been adopted in the same way that contestants in some forms of Eisteddfod competition adopt a bardic name..

In a  pre-publication extract from the forthcoming Lexicon of Celtic Non-Classical Latinity by Anthony HARVEY and Jane POWER (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy) , it states that ‘cereticus’ can signify  a (Proper Name)&(adjective)  meaning ‘of Ceredigion’ (Ceredigion, being an alternate  name for the county of  Cardiganshire); so perhaps Lane Davies’ correspondent was simply a native of Cardiganshire (or Cardigan)….


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