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A HISTORY OF LLANDDEWI ABERARTH CHURCH
Llanddewi Aberarth Church is situated about half a mile south of the
village, on the brow of a hill overlooking Cardigan Bay. The site is 313
feet above sea level; yet it is only 600 yards or so from the sea shore. It is
very exposed to the sea and to storms, and there are no geographical
features to provide shelter from any direction. This exposure has caused
major problems for the maintenance of the church building over the
centuries.
The origin of the Church is a little uncertain. The use, in its name, of
the Welsh word Llan, followed by the name of the Saint, immediately
suggests that it is a very old church. Llan implies an early Christian
enclosure.
Some interesting archaeological evidence indicating that there may
have been a church on this site in the ninth century is provided by three
stones strapped to the inside wall of the porch. Two of these stones bear
key-shaped markings on a diagonal pattern, one with inscriptions on its
side. Experts believe these to be good examples of early Christian art
dating from the ninth century. The other stone is of a hogsback design.
Several hogsback stones have been found in the north of England and
some in Scotland. They are of Viking origin and date from the tenth
century. The one at Aberarth is the only hogsback stone recorded in
Wales. Three more inscribed stones, as well as a bronze axe, were dis-
covered in the filling of the old church walls when they were demolished
in 1860. The stones were taken to Dolaeron, Aberaeron, where they were
used to adorn a rockery. There, Mr. Munro Hughes, a keen archaeologist,
photographed and rubbed them in about 1895, and an article giving
details of their size, inscriptions and an assessment of their age was
subsequently published.3 Once again, the writings and spellings were
thought to be ninth century. Unfortunately, both the stones and the
bronze axe have since disappeared, but if both sets of stones were from a
previous church, and it is difficult to see where else they could have come
from, the evidence strongly supports the existence of a church on this site
in the ninth century.
Written evidence for the church is very sparse until the late eighteenth
century. The first reference is to be found in the Taxation records of 1291,
when Llanddewi Aberarth, then called Aberaith, was valued at £ 4. The
next record does not occur until the sixteenth century, during the Protest-
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