Tuesday, July 21, 2009

St Justinian

St.Justinian Chapel

Another tale of a monk, this one quite dramatic though it has the 'severed head' motif in it.
St. Justinian was a 6th century monk who lived on the island of Ramsey just off St.David's Head, St. Justinian though was not happy with his servants, they were lazy apparently, so when he asked them to work harder they cut off his head in spite. Where the head fell a spring (St.Justinian Spring) appeared miraculously and there is indeed a well on the island, and evidence of two later monastic settlements.(see below ) The murderers contracted leprosy and lived out the rest of their days on a crag called Leper's Rock
But our saint of course walked across the sea carrying his head, coming ashore at St. Justinian Point, where he wished to be buried, and this was the origin of St. Justinian's Chapel.
There is another chapel dedicated to him at Scleddau, the foundation remains of this chapel lie by a great marsh, with an' enclosure of large stones encompassing seven springs' - This in another book by Elizabeth Rees she calls it a stone circle.
Ramsey Island is a nature reserve for birds, but you can take a trip round the island to see the seals and a large water cavern.
This trip I did with my son, though I was gravely sea-sick, and a need to die quite happily in the cool green waters, but I did manage to focus on the seals and the marvellous quiet as our large rubber boat's engine fell silent and we drifted into the cave where the seals lay on a small rocky ledge. The waters round this Pembrokeshire coast are beautiful, clear, clean and crystal sharp.

Life boat Station at St.Justinian

Historically, the island formed part of the parish of St David's, and contained two medieval chapel sites which may have early medieval origins, one of which - dedicated to St Tyfannog - lies in this character area. It is associated with a holy well site, a cemetery and an inscribed stone which may commemorate a 9th century bishop. It has been suggested that the relationship between the island and the monastery at St David's may be analogous to that between Llancarfan and Flatholm in the Bristol Channel, as an island retreat for the monastic community. The island is laden with legends from its past inhabitants, many of them supernatural and involving the fairies Y Tylwyth Teg and Plant Rhys Dwfn; others tell of the sound of bells beneath the sea. During the post Anglo-Norman conquest period, Ramsey Island, and particularly the well, was an important pilgrimage site.
Taken from; Landscape St.David's Area

St.Tyfanog; Ramsey Island was also known as Ynys Dyfanog, after a chapel near Capel Stinan, an Anglo-Saxon burial inscription on a stone from an early christian burial site, probably relating to a bishop of St.David who died in 831.

(plant hrees thoovn) This, meaning the family of Rhys the Deep, is the name given to a tribe of fairy people who inhabited a small land which was invisible because of a certain herb that grew on it. They were handsome people, rather below the average in height, and it was their custom to attend the market in Cardigan and pay such high prices for the goods there that the ordinary buyer could not compete with them.

Well a little further investigation reveals that the above fairy people lived on an land that was invisible, which would fit nicely into the story of Ramsey Island, as islands disappear into the sea fog. The story originally was told round Cardigan Bay, but the the fairies grew tired of this place and moved down to Fishguard.

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