St David's Church, Llanthony, Vale of Ewyas, Monmouthshire
Note 1. St David's Church, Llanthony has links with the sixth century and the days of the Celtic saints. After the departure of the Romans, the Celts held onto their Christianity when the pagan Saxon invaders pushed them back into Wales and to the north. The early saints were often hermits who lived solitary lives of prayer and contemplation. It is said that St David lived here in a cell. Such a saint usually attracted followers, and a type of monastic community was often formed, consisting of stone or timber cells clustered round a church, enclosed within a 'llan' (religious enclosure).
Above: St David's Church, Llanthony, showing its north wall, porch, and west end.
Note 2. The church lies immediately south of the ruined abbey** and the nave is formed out of the infirmary hall, whilst the chancel was once a chapel opening out of the east wall. The result is what appears to be the least altered nave and chancel church of circa 1190-1210 in South Wales, the chancel arch and several windows being original. A north porch was added during the restoration of 1897.
Note 3. The llan in Nant Honddu has associations with St David himself. The site of his original cell is now marked by a single-naved church, the east window of which is said to be precisely aligned with the sunrise on St David's Day (1st March). By the late eleventh century, the llan was just a ruin when William de Lacy came riding up the valley, and decided to renounce the world and stay. The result was the first Augustinian monastery in Wales.