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ST. BEUNO'S CHEST.
Clynnog Church, one of the greater churches of North Wales, has been fully described in the first series of the Archæologia Cambrensis, by the Rev. H. Longueville Jones and Professor Westwood. Since that time the church has been put in a satisfactory condition, with the exception of the chapel of St. Beuno. This saint, the founder of the original church at the commencement of the seventh century, holds a distinguished place among his brother saints of Wales, and was honoured by having several churches and chapels dedicated to him. One of these, Llanfeuno, is in Herefordshire ; and there are ten in Wales. Near Berriw, in Montgomeryshire, is a maenhir, a representation of which is given in the Archaologia Cambrensis for 1867. It marks the bounds of the two townships in which the parish is divided, and is called Maen Beuno, but is not connected with the saint by any local tradition. Mr. T. O. Morgan suggests that it is so named because the church is dedicated to the saint.
His fame was not undeserved if what is said of him is true. In addition to the well-known story of his restoring to his niece, the decapitated Winifred, her head and her life, he is said to have raised five others from death to life, and will still raise the seventh. It is also stated of him in a note appended to the communication given in Leland's Collectanea, and mentioned below, that when the other saints have lost their dignity, he shall perform the first miracle. His fame also as a restorer to health was not less than of his restoring to life ; for, even down to Pennant's time, sick children and persons were brought to his chapel and placed on rushes strewed upon
grave for the night, which operation, with a bath in the holy well adjoining, was considered a sure remedy. Pennant saw a paralysed man from Merioneth
then reposing on the tomb, with the exception of a feather bed being substituted for the rushes. The substantial masonry round the well, neglected as it is at the present time, indicates its former importance. Of the great veneration in which this saint was held in Wales, and especially in North Wales, there can be little doubt; and hence, perhaps, the fact that the College at Tremeirchion, near St. Asaph, bears the name of Saint Beuno.
In the vestry of Clynnog Church is preserved the ancient chest, which is here given from a drawing made in 1866. Beyond its great rudeness and its form, so different from the ordinary church chests still remaining in
of our Welsh churches, there is nothing to indicate its exact or even probable date. It must, however, be referred to a period anterior to the reign of our sixth Edward, and is probably one of the oldest, if not the • oldest, of church chests in Wales.? Pennant mentions it in his account of Clynnog thus: “The offerings of calves and lambs which happen to be born with the Nôd Beuno, or mark of St. Beuno, a certain natural mark in the ear, have not entirely ceased. They are brought to the church on Trinity Sunday, the anniversary of the saint, and delivered to the church wardens, who sell and account for them, and put it into a great chest, ‘Cuff St. Beuno, made of one piece of oak, and secured with three locks. From this the Welsh have a proverb for attempting a very difficult thing, You may as well try to break up St. Beuno's chest.' The little money resulting from the consecrated beasts, or casual offerings, is either applied to the relief of the poor, or in aid of repairs.
This account of Pennant does not exactly correspond with the statement made in a communication (1589)
1 There is, or was lately, a chest somewhat of the same character in Llanelian Church, Anglesey, called “ Cyff Elian," one of the seven patron saints of Mona. The holy well of this saint also was in high estimation as to its healing powers; the invalids, after their bath in it, dropping their offerings into the chest. Their number must have been considerable, as the offerings so contributed enabled the parishioners to purchase three tenements for the benefit of the incumbent's income.
concerning superstitious practices then prevailing in Wales. This will be found in Leland's Collectanea, and also in a former volume of the Archæologia Cambrensis. According to this account, Trinity Sunday is not necessarily the day of offering, as the circumstance related occurred on Whitsunday—nor are the offerings confined to lambs and calves, as in the present case a bullock about a year old was offered ; or, more strictly speaking, half only of the beast was offered, as the other half was due from the offerer to the keeper of the hostel. As the beast was led with a rope through a little porch into the churchyard, the young man who led the beast said with a loud voice, “ Thy Halfe to God and St. Beino.' He had previously asked the host what he considered the value of it, who replied about a crown, for (adds the host) on the preceding Sunday the vicar had purchased a bullock of the same size for sixteen groats, and, therefore, the young man was not likely to obtain more. The church wardens do not appear to act in this instance, the vicar only being apparently the valuer and the purchaser. It was a general opinion at that time that all St. Beuno's beasts prospered marvellously well, whence arose much competition for them. The writer goes on to say that some beasts when first calved have St. Beuno's mark on their ears, from which, perhaps, it may be inferred that unmarked beasts might also be offered. No mention is made of lambs being offered ; but, as the practice had not altogether ceased in Pennant's time, it is probable that some information may be gathered from the oldest inhabitants of the district regarding the kind of beasts offered, and the manner of offering. Another superstition existed at that time about the sacred character of all trees growing on ground belonging to St. Beuno, which no one dared to cut down lest the Saint should kill or do some grievous harm so them.
In the volume of the Archæologia Cambrensis for 1848 is an account of the monies taken out of the chest Dec. 3, 1688.
Taken out of the box of broad money
4 2 6 Of all sortes of groates
10 5 Of Fourpence halfepence ?
4 11 Of small moneys
8 0 Of Read ? moneys
n 10 One broken sixpence and one gro (groat ?) nigh 3d.
15 8 Within a few years ago the chest was placed to the south of the altar against the east wall; and, within the memory of many, persons living came from distant parts of the country to deposit their offerings in the chest, under the belief that they would thereby propitiate the old Saint, and so obtain his intercession on behalf of their cattle afflicted at that time with some fatal disorder. The Rev. Robert Williams, formerly vicar of the parish, informs me that the late Dean of Bangor (Cotton) in his capacity of Rural Dean, had the chest opened by a blacksmith in the presence of the churchwardens, which could only be done by forcing open the iron bars. The keys, in this instance, seem to have been lost, but it is somewhat curious that no steps had been taken to replace them. In the chest were found a sovereign and several silver pieces, most probably deposited by those who had still faith in the power of the old saint.
That such a curious relic of former days should be suffered to perish from neglect, would reflect little credit on its lawful guardians. At present it lies on a damp floor in the vestry, and is never seen except by strangers. Would it not be desirable to have it replaced on a suitable stand, in its former or some other appropriate position in the church, and be protected from atmospheric action by proper varnishing? Not only would such a plan tend to preserve the actual wood, much of which is decayed, but would win for it more general respect than by leaving it on the ground in the vestry, where it cannot be inspected satisfactorily without being dragged forth into the light,-a task not very easy.
J. T. Blight.
RELICS OF DINAS MAWDDWY.
Dinas MAWDDWY is remarkable for the dubiousness of its real history. Some have considered the present city, or town, or village, to be the remains of a much more important place than it is at present. Others of equal, if not higher, authority, believe that it never was very different from its present state. The arguments of those who hold this view are of considerable weight. One of these is from the character of the ground on which it stands. It is situated, not on the Cerist or Ceris, as stated in Lewis's Topographical Dictionary, but on the Dyfi, which actually washes the rock on which the town stands. The river, dashing against the north-east rock, is forced to make a bend towards the south, and so washes almost the whole length of the rock. The Cerist falls into the Dyfi from the right bank, about three hundred feet or more before the latter comes in contact with the rock. Craig y Dinas, a very steep, rocky hill, rises to a great height above the town, which consists of two lines of houses with a road between them; and the space between the foot of the Craig and the river is about all the available ground for building. It is clear, therefore, that if Dinas Mawddwy was ever a large and important place, it must have occupied some other site at some distance. There are, moreover, no vestiges whatsoever of a former greatness; no tradition, unless the word “Dinas” may be considered to denote a fortified stronghold ; but the real meaning of the word is not, we believe, determined by Welsh scholars. Moreover, it is not mentioned as a place of importance in any ancient Welsh documents that have come under the notice of the Rev. D. Silvan Evans, the Rector of Llanymawddwy, who considers that the place has not materially altered. If it had been walled round, and had been a strong and important post, traces of walls, and certainly traditions of its supposed importance, might be