"PENBRYN (PEN-BRYN), a parish in the lower division of the hundred of TROEDYRAUR, county of CARDIGAN, SOUTH WALES, 8 miles (E. N. E.) from Cardigan, containing 1733 inhabitants. This place derives its name, signifying " the Head of the Hill," from the situation of its church on the summit of an abrupt eminence near the sea, and is sometimes also called Llanvihangel Pen y Bryn from its dedication to St. Michael. The vicinity appears to have been distinguished, at a very early period, as the scene of several of those sanguinary conflicts which took place during the fierce struggles for empire among the rival chieftains of the principality, and the continued efforts of the confederate natives to repel the usurpation of their territories by foreign invaders. The names of several places within the limits of the parish are by some supposed to bear testimony to the carnage which ensued upon those occasions: among these, Maes Glâs , Pwll Glâs and Clôs Glâs (Glâs being considered, though somewhat fancifully, to be a contraction of Galanas), are reputed severally to signify the plain, the pit, and the enclosure of slaughter; Fynnon Waedog, "the bloody well;" and Llêch yr Ochain, "the stone of lamentation." One of those places Mr. Evans supposes to be the spot where the forces of Arthur were slain, through the treachery of' his kinsman Mordred; and Llongborth, another place in this parish, is by some thought to be that celebrated by Llywarch Hên as the field where Geraint ab Erbin, a prince of Devon, was slain, with a vast number of his followers, and who is supposed to have been interred on a farm in this parish, still called Porth Geraint ; but others think that the place mentioned in the aged poet's elegy on the fall of Geraint was in Devonshire or Cornwall; and Dr. Owen Pughe, in his notes to the translation of that composition, supposes it might be Portsmouth. The parish is situated on the bay of Cardigan, iand is intersected by the turnpike road leading from Cardigan to Aberystwith: it comprises a large tract of land extending along the shores of the bay; the surface is exceedingly hilly, and by far the greater part of the land is barren and uncultivated. A portion of the shore, called Traeth Saith, is supposed to be the most favourable place for sea-bathing on this part of the coast. On the beach is a flat rock, called Carreg Morwynion, or " the Maidens' rock," from the circumstance of several females having been drowned while bathing there. The surrounding scenery is for the greater part dreary, and contains few features either of rural or picturesque beauty; but the views over the bay are enlivened by the passing and repassing of vessels navigating this part of the coast. Within the parish is a small hamlet, or village, called Sarnau, from the remains of several paved roads across a bog in the immediate vicinity of it. Llanborth was formerly an ancient mansion belonging to the family of Rhys ab Rhydderch, Lord of Tywyn ; in default of heirs it fell to the lord of the manor, and was afterwards the property of Colonel Baily Wallis, who sold it to R. Hart Davis, Esq. The living is a vicarage, with the perpetual curacies of Bettws Evan and Brongwyn annexed, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St. David's, rated in the king's books at £15, and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. David's. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, and situated on the summit of an eminence overlooking the bay of Cardigan, is an ancient structure, in the early style of English architecture, consisting of a nave and chancel, separated by a finely pointed arch, and having a porch in the same style : the font is an ancient square basin. In the churchyard are the stone steps of a cross, supposed to have been destroyed about the period of the Reformation. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.This parish abounds with relics of antiquity, principally of ancient British origin; and almost every spot of elevated ground seems to have been occupied as a military post. Castell Nadolig, an extensive British encampment, strongly defended by a double intrenchment, occupies a situation on a farm of the same name, near the high road ; and the course of a paved road leading thence northward might some time ago be traced for more than a mile. In a field not far from the church there is an erect stone, about five feet high, with an inscription which was read, by Mr. Llwyd, COR BALENCI IACIT ORDOVS. Under the heap of stones near which it then stood some silver coins, and an urn containing ashes, were found. Bishop Gibson also notices a gold coin, about the weight of a guinea, supposed to be of native British antiquity, and of a period prior to the Roman invasion,as having been found in this parish. Several tumuli and carneddau are seen in various parts of the parish, and the vestiges of numerous fortifications are still discernible. On the farm of Cefn Lletre, in this parish, is a lofty mound of earth, encircled by three ramparts, called Castell, originally a place of great strength, but the fortifications are at present nearly demolished: within a short distance is another tumulus, called Castell Prydd. At Blaenhovnant, another farm in this parish, is a large carnedd; and there are two others in the immediate neighbourhood. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor is £470.10."
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[Gareth Hicks: 16 December 1999]
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