An archaeologist from Wessex Archaeology Wales office in Aberystwyth recently undertook a watching brief on the lifting of an early medieval carved stone prior in advance of a programme of conservation. The work was undertaken on behalf of Treftadaeth Llandre Heritage who obtained funding for the lifting, conservation and display of three carved stones at Llantrisant Church near Pontarfynach (Devil’s Bridge) in Ceredigion as part of their Peaceful Places trail.
Llantrisant church now sits in glorious isolation on an exposed hilltop to the south east of the modern hamlet of Trisant and Llyn Frongoch, but clearly served a nearby settlement in the early medieval and medieval period. The medieval church served as the upland chapelry of Llafihangel-y-Creuddyn parish, and belonged to the Deanery of Ultra-Aeron. The medieval church appears to have been abandoned early in the 19th century, with the construction of a new church at nearby Eglwys Newydd. It was clearly ruined by 1834, when it was mapped as a ruin by the Ordnance Survey. The current church, probably the third on the site, was built in the late 19th century to serve the nearby Frongoch lead mines.
The original locations of the three stones are uncertain. The two smaller stones appear to have been found during grave digging close to the current south wall of the nave in 1970. All three are recorded in Nancy Edwards’ 2007 A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculptures in Wales. All three stones are derived from local sources carved with crosses, and probably originally intended for use as grave markers. The two smaller stones, which probably date to between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, were lifted and conserved in late 2014. The largest stone, however, required an archaeological watching brief in order to monitor the lifting of the stone and to ensure that there were no buried archaeological remains associated with it. This stone is inscribed with a large outline Latin cross, thought to date to the 9th to 11th century AD.
The lifting of the stone was undertaken by expert staff from Elliott Ryder Conservation. Careful cleaning of the void left once the stone had been removed revealed no associated archaeological features or deposits. The sides and rear of the stone were examined carefully for further carvings. There were none. The stone was then moved into the shelter of the nearby bier house where it will undergo a programme of investigative cleaning and conservation. Ultimately, all three stones will be put on display in the bier house accompanied by two interpretative panels.
By Nicholas Cooke, Business Manager, Wales
Source: Wessex Archaeology