Images of Wales
St Ciwg's Parish Church
Llangiwg, near Pontardawe
Photography by John Ball - 10:30 am, 11 Mar 1998
(with Agfa ePhoto307 digital camera)
This church was founded in the sixth century A.D. by Ciwg, an early Christian
hermit, said to be descended from a noble Celtic family. The church is located
in what was once a central position for the local rural population, but when
industrialisation took place in the Swansea Valley, the church became isolated.
Above: St Ciwg's is situated in a hollow on Barley Hill.
Above left: One of the footpaths approaching the church from the west.
Above right: Parts of the church tower date from the 13th century. The
tower is no longer vertical!
Above left: In the east wall of the church is a low-level leper window, constructed
so that "unclean lepers" could watch the priest celebrating communion.
Above right: The churchyard contains recent graves as well as ancient ones.
Above: The church is on Barley Hill, 210 metres (690 feet) above sea level.
Above: To the west of Barley Hill is a golf course.
Above: To the north-east is the Upper Swansea Valley. The flat-topped hill in the
centre is Mynydd Allt-y-grug; to the right is Varteg Hill. These 200-metre high
plateaux mark what was once the floor of an ancient sea. The U-shaped valley
between the two hills was cut by a gigantic glacier during the ice-age.
Update - June 2003
A report in a local newspaper stated that St Ciwg's Church had been put up for sale by the Church In Wales.
Update - December 2004
No services had been held in the church since 2001, and the diocese needed to raise £250,000 for repairs to other churches in the area.
Externally, the church still appears to be in the same state as it was six years ago, when the above photographs were taken.