||The village of Trellech, between Monmouth and Chepstow in south Wales,
is home to a marvellous collection of antiquities. Now really just a sleepy
hamlet, this was once one of the most important towns in Wales - in its
medieval heyday it was larger than Newport and Chepstow. The standing stones
pictured here indicate that the area was important even in prehistoric
times.The stones may once have been part of an ancient large avenue or
||The Trellech standing stones might look as though they were made from
an early form of concrete but they are in fact large pieces of a volcanic
rock locally known as pudding stone. This material was used to make
certain types of millstone in days gone by. A 19th. century historian noted
that a fourth stone once stood nearby but was destroyed towards the end
of the 18th. century. On a recent visit, the present writer noticed the
tip of a similar stone on the verge of a lane several hundred yards away.
||For some reason called the Terret Tump, this forty feet high
mound near a Trellech farmhouse was once the motte of a Norman French
castle. The Normans threw up many of these on the borders of Wales soon
after the invasion of 1066. The tiny castle at the top of the mound would
have been made from wood and all traces of the building vanished long ago.
||The late F. J. Hando wrote that a church of "Trylec" was given to Llandaff
by a King Ffernwael thirteen centuries ago but that nothing remains of
this or the first Norman church. The present church is held to date largely
from the 13th. and 14th. centuries, but the spire was re-built around 1792.
When the floor of the church was disturbed in recent times many skeletons
were discovered and the obviously hurried burials were though to be connected
with the Great Plagues of 1340 and 1350.
||The churchyard contains this large stone pedestal upon which once stood
a large ancient cross. This would have been thrown down at the time of
the Reformation, on the orders of King Henry VIII. The church itself houses
several fascinating objects carved from stone. One of these appears to
be an ancient font, perhaps a reminder of the Norman church. The well known
Trellech sundial is just nearby - Fred Hando called this "the most remarkable
sundial in this island".
||Trellech's holy well, known as St. Anne's or The Virtuous
Well, used to be a place of pilgrimage. Little is known about the present
structure but an inscription on the sundial in the church (dated 1689)
seems to indicate that Lady Magdalene Probert was responsible for this.
It can safely be assumed that the well had been a significant religious
site for many centuries before 1689. Interestingly, the tree at the rear
of the well is festooned with strips of rag. It is well known that this
custom was common in medieval times. Pilgrims to holy wells would tie strips
of cloth to nearby trees or throw bent pins into the water. One cannot
help wondering how this tradition has survived to the present day. See also: holy
wells in Wales
||The Lion, one of two attractive pubs in the village. As you
might expect this is also an ancient feature. I seem to remember the landlady
telling me that she thought the building dated from the 15th. century.
Modern travellers from overseas might be pleased to know that these days
it is quite possible to wander into such a country pub and order coffee
and sandwiches. The uninitiated need no longer face the challenge of choosing
an unfamiliar local ale.