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History: Investigating sculptured stone in Llandough

This week we venture out of our Barry to our district; the place of some unique history. If ever I was to be asked: “Karl-James Langford, where please do tell is the finest sculptured stone from the pre-Norman era in the whole of Wales?” The answer would be simple: “You haven’t got far to go!”

For this week within our Barry and District we visit Llandough. We all know Llandough, the hospital, and maybe the little church on the bend as you start to leave the village on the right, heading towards Leckwith. This church mainly rebuilt in part by those Victorians contains within its graveyards bounds, a very old; you may be excused for using the word ancient carved stone. The image is thanks to Rosamund Ellis-Evans.

This carved stone is one of the last of such marvels of it’s importance, not to be in a museum in Wales. For this four part ‘shaft’; is reconstructed from maybe up to four separate such shafts, that supported early medieval carved wheel crosses. It is described by early Victorian writers as being, ‘the most elegant example of the kind in Wales.’ And so true is that statement.

For over two and a half metres in height the standing stone dominates the burial stones at the church yard of St Dochwy’s Llandough. The whole monument is beautifully carved.

Back in 1856, the four sections of carved stone was re-erected, and maybe of a similar type of stone; or in fact the very same, from the Sutton sandstone quarry at Ogmore by Sea. There is a carved set of images on the base plinth. One panel represents in relief, a figure riding a horse, but there are other carvings around the horse that are difficult to decipher; the whole image is contained with knot work carving.

Following on along the base is a now faded image of five figures – could they have all been holding spears? Unfortunately the other two panels of carvings are now too faded to decipher their images and meaning! The two sets of carvings that we have mentioned however are very remarkable, and it is my belief that this stone of the four originally came from the late Roman era villa that was discovered in the late 1970s nearby.

The next stone above the base plinth is beautifully carved with early medieval interlaced ribbon pattern columns dating from more than1,200 years ago (at least) and the top shaft section with plain columns framing between them ribbon pattern designs: four in total.

The monument does have lettering carved onto it. From before you examine the top shaft (described above), there is a separate stone with the lettering: irbic.

Is the lettering referring to the name of an important person? Or the name of an early saint, or the original name for Llandough?

We should be grateful for the stone remaining, and are indebted to the Victorian for saving the four separate carved stones and erecting them together.

Thanks for joining us within the Barry and District this week. More from us next week.

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