The Liber Llandavensis, translation by WJ Rees
Legends and land grant relating to Clodock church
The following transcription is an extract from a translation of Liber Llandavensis, a 12th century document, which records legends relating St Clydawg and Clodock church, together with the charter of a land grant to the church. The translation is by WJ Rees, published in 1840. While the legends, or ‘narrations’ are undatable, they give an account of the founding of the church dedicated to St Clydawg and early settlement of the local area in the Welsh kingdom of Ewyas. The Clodock charter can be dated to about the mid 8th century [c740] through the names of the donor, King Ithel, and witnesses: in this context the legend of St Clydawg and founding of the church is understood to predate the land grant.
Elsewhere on this website, a research paper - ‘Early Medieval boundary of the Clodock estate’ - sets out to retrace the boundary of land belonging to Clodock church from landmarks described in the charter.
Transcription [Rees; p444-449]
Grant of Lybiaw and Gwrwan
King Clydawg son of Clydwyn, when he was in his kingdom enjoying peace and administering justice, became a martyr through his virtue, and had a crown on heavenly glory, with the palm of carnal chastity. A certain young woman, daughter of a wealthy man, was in love with him, and said to those that sought her, that she would marry no one but the illustrious Clydawg. The answer of the girl being heard, and she refusing all persons as usual, one of the companions of the King, because he could not obtain her, was filled with an evil spirit and intense desire respecting her; and receiving excitement for bad conduct from the malignity of rashness, and the malice of luxury, on a certain day he killed King Clydawg, innocent as a lamb, near the river Mynwy, while he was waiting for the meeting of hunters, and meditating with great devotion on sacred subjects.
On his death, his acquaintance, companions and friends of noble parentage, having joined oxen to the carriage, began to take away the body from the place, and to pass the Mynwy by a ford. And in one part of the river the yokes of the oxen began to break, and the oxen to stand still, for they could not move the body from the place on account of its great weight, and although often fastened with chains and ropes, yet they were broken to pieces, and the oxen, although they were frequently goaded on, would not move a step, as if a fiery globe opposed them. And all beholding and wondering, the body remained in the place which was divinely prepared for it; and the people immediately, on account of the excellent life which they had known the holy man to lead, and his sanctity, and his death which obtained for him the crown of martyrdom, and the wonderful lightness of his body in the first place after his death, and secondly its very great weight, which caused it to be immoveable, rendered praises to God. And a column of fire was seen on his tomb on the night following his sepulture as being pleasing to God. And immediately, by the advice of the Bishop of Llandaff, and clergy, an oratory was there built, and consecrated with the sprinkling of water, in honour of the martyr Clydawg; and from that time the place began to be held in veneration, on account of the blessed martyr.
On a certain day two men came of Llannerch Glas, who had quarrelled with each other, and said, ‘Let us agree and go to Madley, a church of St Dubricius, and both swear on his altar, that having forgotten the malice of envy, and united by compact, we shall be always for the future firm friends in brotherly peace’. Who when they were on the road, going the proposed journey, one of them said to the other, ‘Let us go to the place of the Martyr, (that is Clydawg,) and to his sepulchre; and shortening our journey, and our desire remaining; let us on his tomb agree and confirm perpetual peace between us’. But after the compact was confirmed, one of them in their return, breaking the peace, and violating the covenant, killed the other treacherously, and also himself, as it is said, ‘Whoever contrives to injure another, will first smite himself with his own weapon’. For immediately after having committed murder, and as I might say, also perjury, he stabbed himself with his own lance in the belly, and from the wound he died; and his companion, I say, was taken to eternal joy.
After an interval of time, two brothers, Lybiaw and Gwrwan, and their sister’s son Cynwr, came from the region of Penychen, leaving their country on account of a quarrel, and chose to lead a hermitical and solitary life, at the place where was deposited the body of the blessed martyr Clydawg, on the bank of the Mynwy, in Ewyas. And there they led their lives, and with the advice and assistance of the Bishop of Llandaff, built an improved church; and all the territory on both sides the Mynwy was given to them by Pengargawd, King of Glamorgan, in eternal consecration, without any payment to any mortal man, and with all commonage to the present and future inhabitants of the territory of the church, in field and in woods, in water and in pastures. And the two brothers led a chaste life, but the sister’s son had four sons, when the territory became divided between the brothers into five parts, and always remained so among their survivors and descendants.
Merthyr Clitawg [sic]
Ithael son of Morgan, King of Glewyssig, with the approbation of his sons and heirs, Ffernwael and Meurig, and the consent of their heirs, Ithael and Ffrewddyfr, sacrificed to God, and to St Dubricius, St Teilo, and St Oudoceus, and Clydawg the martyr, and Bishop Berthgwyn, and all the Bishops of Llandaff, all the territory of Mertyr Clydawg, as it was better given to Clydawg the martyr, and the three hermits, Lybiaw, Gwrwan, and Cynwr, the first inhabitants and cultivators of the place after the martyrdom of Clydawg, and with all its liberty and commonage given to the present and future inhabitants in field and in woods, in water and in pastures, and without any payment, great or small, to any mortal man besides to the Church of Llandaff and its pastors for ever; and as an island placed in the sea, free from every service, and without an inheritor, unless with the wish and for the benefit of the Bishop of Llandaff, and the canons of that Church; and with refuge according to the will of the refugee, without limit; and as long as he should choose to remain, be safe under its protection as if he were in the sanctuary at Llandaff.
Of the clergy, the witnesses are Bishop Berthgwyn; Dagan, Abbot of Carvan valley; Elwoid, Abbot of Illtyd; Sadwrn, Abbot of Docunni; Ieuan, Gworwydd, Helygwydd, Ili; of the laity, King Ithael, his sons Ffernwael and Meurig, Ithael and Ffrewddyfr their heirs, Elffin, Mabsu, Cynwg, Gwaedfyw, Gwynddon, Eudem, Gwaednerth. Whoever will keep it, may God keep him; and whoever will separate it from the Church of Llandaff, may he be accursed. Amen. The boundary of it is, - The stone in the variegated moor, along the summit of the acclivity of Curum, to the stone on the summit of the hill, along the summit upwards to the stone opposite the brook Trineint, along it downwards into Elchon, along it downwards to the isle of Alarun, upwards to Maen Tyllawg, to the knoll, to the other knoll, to the Mynwy, through Mynwy to the influx of Nant Cwm Cinreith, that is to Nant Cwm of the pool of Ferdun, along the brook to Ferdun mountain, along the ridge of Ferdun mountain to the pool of Ferdun, along it wpwards to the source of Hilin, along Hilin to Mynwy, along Mynwy downwards to the influx of the fountain Bist, to its source, from its source to the summit, directly upwards to reach the stone in the variegated moor on the summit of the mountain, where it began.
Grant of Ithael son of Eddilwyrth
Ithael son of Eddilwyrth, a certain rich man in Ewyas, went, accompanied by his wife, one Sunday to hear divine service at the church of Clydawg, and in a meadow on the banks of the Mynwy, became unable to proceed. And he cried with a loud voice, and said to his companions, ‘Go to the sepulchre of the martyr Clydawg, and on my behalf, place on the holy altar of Clydawg that meadow, which I unjustly took away from it by force; and placing your hands joined together in suretiship, as with a given endowment, the four gospels having been placed thereon before, grant it free and quit of all laical service from hence forward, except only daily prayer, and mass for my health, by the clergy of the church, that they may pray earnestly for me, that by the intercession of the martyr, and their prayers, I may have deliverance’. And the almsgiving having been immediately performed, and given with a promise of future amendment of life in fasting, and prayer, and almsgiving, he was restored before all the people, and returned thanks and praises to God for his recovery. And what he had first done by his messengers, the same thing he did himself, when he was restored, by placing his own hands upon the altar of the martyr, the holy gospels being placed there before, and confirming it with the approbation of the Kings of Glamorgan, and the advice of princes, without dispute, free to St Dubricius, St Teilo, and St Oudoceus, and the martyr Clydawg, and all the Bishops of Llandaff for ever.
The sons of Cyfleiddieu sacrificed Lechluit to the martyr Clydawg, and the Church of Llandaff. The boundary of Llecheu lition has Mynwy on one part, and between two brooks. The boundary of Lennic, below Mynwy, and Mynwy to the confluence of Lech Eneuris, from the other part to the northern side.
Rees, WJ (1840) The Liber Llandavensis, Welsh MSS Society, Llandovery
see Davies, Wendy (1979) The Llandaff Charters, Aberystwyth, for dating of the Clodock charter.
Click to see ‘Early Medieval boundary of the Clodock estate’