Celtic Christian Origins


The Christian Faith first came to south Wales with the Roman occupation in the 4th century, and then in the 5th century with Irish missionaries sailing up the Bristol Channel or following the old Roman roads from west Wales. At the same time,  missionaries were coming into south east Wales from England. By 500 AD a monastic community or llan had been founded by St Illtud at Llantwit Major, and by St Cadoc at Llancarfan, and from those two monasteries monks went out into the Vale of Glamorgan and wider afield to establish new llanau.

Was there a pre-Norman church and community at Ewenny? There is no firm evidence, but a number of clues from which we can conjecture. Ewenny is close to the great military road, Via Julia Maritima, from Gloucester to St Davids, and Roman remains have been found in the village. The 12th century Book of Llandaff mentions an ‘Ecclesia de Euenhi’ dating back to Celtic Christian times, from which perhaps modern Ewenny derived its name.

Celtic stone 5 webThere are a number of fragments of crosses in the Priory Church, found built into the walls, some with typical Celtic design of the 10th century. The Priory Church is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel, and devotion to him spread from Brittany to Wales in the 8th century, becoming very popular. A list of monasteries and churches in the Vale of Glamorgan at the time of the Norman Conquest mentions an “abbey of St Michael” ruled over by Marchi, the son of Catgen, but there is no evidence as to where this “abbey” was situated. Could it have been at Ewenny?