Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Enchanting Valley with a small lost church MICHAELCHURCH in ERGYNG
For the Welsh, accustomed to dealing with Llans, it has a customary circular churchyard and a pool. In the Book of Llandaff (as Michaelchurch was in mediaeval times on the border of the diocese of Llandaff with Tretire) it is mentioned as a hermitage-Cil (Latin 'Cella' or cell)lwch (or cell by the pool). This refers perhaps to a mud and wattle church constructed by a hermit, whose name we do not know. Perhaps the clue, however, is in his prowess as a fighter of evil against the pagan Saxons, which finally swept over the whole area in 600 and razed it to the ground. God's Will it may have been, but all of St Dyfrig's monasteries in the district were wiped out and the refugees who had survived fled to Gwent. It was not long before Christianity was brought again to the Church by missionaries (second century ones had included Fagan, Medwyn Dufan and the second bishop of Londinium, Elfyn) the rather charmless St Augustine and the churches began restoration in wood or more usually in stone. I can imagine this small building to be a hermitage, set, as it is in a small hidden valley (hard to find without the postcode above) and cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.
Whereas Tretire was simply a local church and the name geographical (Settlement on the Ford) Michaelchurch was always ecclesiastical, and an early site here long before 1056 AD when Bishop Herewald of Llandaff dedicated his new church to St Michael. The guidebook gives an indication that it was more important than Tretire to start, but declined in influence from the time of Henry VIII.