Books, Prehistory, History of the Island of Mona

History of the Island of Mona is in Prehistory.

A History Of The Island Of Mona, Or Anglesey; Including An Account Of Its Natural Productions, Druidical Antiquities, Lives Of Eminent Men, The Customs Of The Court Of The Antient Welsh Princes, &C. Being The Prize Essay To Which Was Adjudged The First Premium At The Royal Beaumaris Eisteddfod, Held In The Month Of August, 1832. By Angharad Llwyd, Ruthin: Printed And Sold By R. Jones, Clwyd-Street. And May Be Had Of Messrs. Longman And Co. Paternoster Row, London, And Of The Booksellers In Chester And In The Principality. 1833.

The progress of cultivation has nearly obliterated many of the vestages of antiquity, which existed in this, as well as several other parishes in Mona. At Bryn Celi [Map], are some traces of large carneddau, where two upright stones are still remaining, with some few others scattered around them, and in several of the adjacent fields are some upright stones, of large dimensions, apparently the remains of cromlechau; and near Bodlew, in this parish, is a deeply excavated and irregularly elliptical area, forty-three yards in length, and twenty-seven in width across the centre, with an entrance at the smaller end. Near the middle of this enclosure, are the remains of an ancient small building, called Capel Cadwaladr, supposed to have been originally erected by Cadwaladr, the last king of the Britons. This is by some writers called "Yr Hen Vonwent," and thought to be the oldest if not the first place of Christian worship established in the Island. Mr. Humphrey Thomas, brother to Davydd Ddfi, the bard of Snowdon, was schoolmaster in the village of Llanddeiniol. By his letter written in 1801, to Mr. P. Bailey Williams, and published in the 2nd. vol. Cambro Quarterly, he appears to have been very conversant with our bardic hoards of unpublished MSS.

Mr. Pennant, on his mention of this curious remain, adopts Dr. Borlase’s idea of chromlechau being cist-vaens, or mere cells for interment. But it is very remarkable, that (as it were in full confutation of his own and Borlase’s conclusion) he immediately proceeds to describe an exceedingly large carnedd, (which indeed was manifestly a sepulchre, or burying place) just by the spot, which he most unaccountably conceives to have been a prison for confining prisoners for sacrifice, and most strangely mistakes a deep buried sepulchre for a prison, for living condemned captives. Rowland says the carnedd [Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Mound [Map]] near this cromlech, is one of the largest carneddau in the Isle of Mona, in his time hardly to be discerned and distinguished from a mount of earth, the stones being overgrown with earth and moss, and great trees growing thick upon it; and that it stands in a dry bottom, and without any pillars now standing by it. Since Rowland’s time, on its being opened, there has been found underneath, a cell about seven feet long, and three wide, covered with two flat stones, and lined with others, and much more truly resembling a cist-vaen, than the cavity under the cromlech could, and indeed much fitter for a tomb than for a prison; and truly that carneddau, or great and high heaps of stones so called, did really cover tombs, we have a strong proof from what appeared on opening another large one in Mona, not far from this very spot; for here was found a passage1, three feet wide, four and a half feet high, and about nineteen and a half feet long, which led into a room of an irregular hexagonal form, having the sides composed of six rude slabs, one of which measured diagonally eight feet nine inches. And this little room was covered by one stone, near ten feet in diameter, which was also supported by a rude stone pillar in the middle, four feet eight inches in circumference; whilst all round the sides of the room was a stone bench, on which were found human bones that fell to dust almost at a touch.2

Note 1. Gouh’s Camden, vol. 2, p. 570. Pennant’s Tour in Wales, vol. 2, p. 262.

Note 2. Munimenta Antiqua, p. 223.

At Neuadd Llanvaelog resided Gryffydd ab Iorwerth Goch, (descended from Hwva ab Cyndelw) and his wife, Gwenllian, grand-daughter of Ririd Flaidd, to whose fostering care Edward I. confided Edward of Caernarvon. "Mamaeth Edward yr ail, oedd Wenllian, ac ar vroneu Sir Howel y Pedolau y macwyd ev. S. P. 495. Sic Per E. E. 40." And on a farm called "Ty Newydd," is a cromlech [Ty Newydd Burial Chamber [Map]]; the upper stone measures twelve feet long, quite bedded in the carnedd or heap of stones. — J. Lloyd."1 A modern tourist describes it thus, — "Not far from the church, on an elevated spot of ground, is a large cromlech, consisting of five upright stones, supporting a large stone, nearly in an horizontal position, about twelve feet long, beneath which is a small cell or cavity."

Caerwys MS.

Llanidan. — This parish, rich in druidical remains, is in the hundred of Menai, distant from Caernarvon five miles, and contains about 3,000 acres of land, generally enclosed, and in a state of cultivation. The resident population 800. The rates in 1803, were £226 95. 2d. at 7s. in the pound, — increased to £452 18s. 0 d. in 1831. This living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £10, and with the chapelries of Llanedwen, Llanddeiniol-Vab, and Llanvair-yn-y-Cymmwd, is in the gift of the lay rector, Lord Boston. The vicar, the Rev. Henry Rowland, having only a third of the tithes. The church, a spacious structure, containing several good monuments, is said to have been built about the year 616, and dedicated to St. Eidan, grandson to Urien Reged. Day of celebration is on September 30. Henry Rowland, D. D. Bishop of Bangor, in 1616, bequeathed a rent Llanidan. — This parish, rich in druidical remains, is in the hundred of Menai, distant from Caernarvon five miles, and contains about 3,000 acres of land, generally enclosed, and in a state of cultivation. The resident population 800. The rates in 1803, were £226 95. 2d. at 7s. in the pound, — increased to £452 18s. 0 d. in 1831. This living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £10, and with the chapelries of Llanedwen, Llanddeiniol-V&b, and Llanvair-yn-y-Cymmwd, is in the gift of the lay rector, Lord Boston. The vicar, the Rev. Henry Rowland, having only a third of the tithes. The church, a spacious structure, containing several good monuments, is said to have been built about the year 616, and dedicated to St. Eidan, grandson to Urien Reged. Day of celebration is on September 30. Henry Rowland, D. D. Bishop of Bangor, in 1616, bequeathed a rent charge £ l 10s. 0 d. on his estate of Plas Gwyn, to be distributed among the poor ; the estate of Llyslew he also left for the support of the free grammar-school, at Bottwnog, which is one of the best farms in this parish. The spacious grove and temple of Tre’r Driw, are now scarcely distinguishable, and only a few of the stones which formed the sacraria, are now remaining to mark out the site. Tre’r Beirdd has almost been demolished. Bodowyr [Bodowyr Burial Chamber [Map]] contains a cromlech, supported by four upright stones, but the circle has been entirely removed. Trevry has only three upright stones remaining, at a great distance from each other ; the foundations have been removed, and the site was levelled by the plough, in 1827. Tan-ben-y-Cevn remains in an entire state, though concealed from observation by the brambles with which it is overspread. Two upright stones only are left at Llyslew. "Caer Leb," or the "moated entrenchment," supposed by Mr. Rowland to have been the residence of the Archdruid, is in good preservation; it forms a quadrangular area, defended by a double rampart, with a broad intervening ditch, and surrounded on the outside by a ditch of smaller dimensions ; within the area are the foundations of square and circular buildings. "In the church1 is a relique, made neither of gold, silver, nor yet ornamented with precious stones, but of very ordinary material — a grit, with a roof-like cover. It might have contained a portion of the saint. Durham possessed his cross, three of his teeth, and his head," &c. Mr. Lloyd, when transcribing a MSS. written by Edward Llwyd, in the Sebright Collection, observes, "Near the latter end of this volume are inserted Mr. Henry Rowland’s answers to Mr. Llwyd of the Museum’s queries, which take in the several parishes of Llanidan, Llanedwen, Llanvair-pwll-gwyngyll, and Llandisilio, in Mona. They contain very little that is remarkable, besides what is to be found in his Mona Antiqua, or in Mr. Llwyd’s notes upon Camden, an account of a strange shower of hail fallen in Mon, on Monday, the 3rd. of May, 1697, which Mr. Rowland communicated to the editors of the Philosophical Transactions, &c. The small osteotheca, in Llanidan church, was found in his time; he conjectures it to be a "Creirgist," or a chest that held relics. It was found about two feet in the ground under the altar, and contained some pieces of bones. He supposes that it belonged to that church, Clunnog, or Llanddwyn, which had their " reliques," and was secretly deposited here during the demolishing proclamations of Edward VI. No corpse could have been buried there before. Mr. Rowland mentions a fine gold medal of Constantine, or Constantius, near the size of a crown piece, found at Trev- Arthur, in Mona, and that it was then in the possession of Sir R. Mostyn, Bart." He quotes towards the last page, the following curious enigmatical epitaph:—

Here lyes the world’s Mother,

By nature my Aunt, — Sister to my Mother,

My Grandmother, — Mother to my Mother,

My Great-grandmother, — Mother to my Grand-mother,

My Grand-mother’s Daughter,

And her Mother:

And all this may be without breach of consanguinity. — "J. Lloyd."