St Illtyd's Church. by Neill Parker

This quaint deconsecrated church is the oldest building in north-west Gwent, and the site on which it stands was no doubt utilised before Christianity came to Britain. Tradition has it that the first Church on the site was a wooden structure built in the fifth century. However, the first written reference to the Church comes from a ninth/tenth century poem. This date ties in with current archaeological thinking which acknowledges the curvilinear church yard as indicative of the pre-Norman period. The existing stone font is believed to be contemporary to this phase. The Church was rebuilt by the Cistercian Monks (an order whose economy relied on sheep farming) in the late twelfth century and much of the fabric of the present building dates to that period. The Church was originally dedicated to Hylledd but why the dedication was altered has yet to be discovered. The Church which is a Grade II listed building underwent some drastic changes in the mid 19th Century when the bell tower was erected and the attractive cradle ceiling was constructed. A second period of renovation followed in 1891 when the original tombstone floor was replaced with intricately patterned tiles.


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