Thursday, 22 October 2009

Walk in Dinefwr Castle Woods

We had to drive to Llandeilo today as our son had to call at his old school, so we decided we would have a stroll through Dinefwr Castle Woods whilst we were waiting for him. The sun had come out and although rain-clouds were threatening in the distance they were far enough away not to worry us.

We parked beside the River Towy and walked up the leaf-strewn trackway at the edge of Dinefwr Castle Woods. There were sheep on the water meadows and two dogs looked out of the window of a recently-renovated old bungalow: what a lovely view it enjoyed across the river and fields.

Dynefwr Castle is hidden behind the trees on the top of this precipitous hill.

We breasted the slight incline and stood looking down on the mossy roof of Llandyfeisant church, which sits in a little hollow which we feel was once a special place in pagan times too, surrounded by a young yew tree and 4 fully grown, one of them very ancient, and with a spring on one side of it. A sacred grove indeed.

Below, the view from the back of the church looking across fields and the wooded hill where Dinefwr Castle is shrouded by the trees (out of sight on the left).

The church is now being left to nature . . .

In 1875, a coin was found beneath the porch and originally wrongly-identified as Roman, but it was subsequently correctly identified as a silver penny introduced by Edward I in 1279 and likely spanning a period from that date to 1327, when Edward II died, which suggests rebuilding work was carried out in that period.

The church is dedicated to Tyfei, nephew of St Teilo (to whom the main church of Llandeilo and many others in this area is dedicated) and is first mentioned in records in 1291 as 'Landevaysen' as part of the Deanery of Ystrad Twyi and by 1324 had been given to Talley Abbey by Rhys, grandson of Rhys the Great. It once served a medieval village in the grounds of what is now Newton House (there have been recent excavations and my daughter and I are mentioned in despatches - we were over by the Heronry!) but this village was already ruinous when noted at the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

It ended serving the Rice family at Newton House, but is now sadly locked to protect it from damage. The trees have been cut back now, but when my daughters were younger, they found it had quite a scary atmosphere as it was gloomy under the trees.

It has been recorded that digging in the churchyard in the 19th century revealed the stone footings of an earlier building and locals say that a Roman mosaic floor was uncovered when a grave was being dug in the past and indeed, also in the 19th C, an urn full of Roman coins was found 300 yards west of the church.

Below: my husband on the trackway back.

View of Llandeilo from across the water meadows. There was a storm brewing (we have just had the thunderstorm it heralded, 2 hours later.)

The beautiful stream beside my son's school, just inside the boundaries of the Brecon Beacons National Park.


  1. As usual, some wonderful photos, I love that little house, it looks almost like an old railway station. Kath x

  2. I shall have to come back and read this again and "close-up" all the photos. For now, it looks like such an interesting walk--and what a nice face your K. has!

  3. MM - I'd like to think so too! He has a wicked sense of humour . . .

    Kath - glad you enjoyed the walk. The little house has been beautifully done up and looks across the river and the water meadows.

  4. What a lovely place to walk BB. When we visited the Rhys/Rice house this summer, I wished that we had time to explore the old castle as well. Such a beautiful valley and so green. Did you catch sight of the White Park Cattle?

  5. Hullo MM,
    The photos say as much as your words once more. Looks like a very tranquil but productive area. Your shots of the church and graveyard are very atmospheric as is the one of the tree when enlarged. Looking at the tree I thought there was a doorway high up behind it which I couldn't make sense of but I think it must be a bird box....

    Your other half looks very happy with his lot!


  6. Al - I think it must be a sign, as there is another pathway coming down to the church from behind that yew tree (you can just see the hand rail).

    DW - the White Park Cattle are usually t'other side from where we were - in front of Newton house or else right over by the Heronry, where T and I did our dig last year. I've got a photo of them somewhere, so I'll try and find it for you. They have black noses! next time you come, walk across to the Castle, it is worth it just for the views up and down the Towy Valley : )

  7. This looks such a lovely area to explore. The ruined church covered in moss, creepers and ferns looks very romantic but I can well imagine that on a dark night or a gloomy winter's day it could feel very spooky indeed!

  8. Oooh Rowan - I wouldn't go there at night. No sirree . . . I's frit of the dark!

  9. I probably have a rather romanticized feeling for the British Isles and I've left it a bit too late to make the kind of visit that I would have liked. Forget any "guided tour" sort of thing with bus loads of people---you folks take the kind of walks and explorations which would suit me way beyond "tourist attractions." I enjoy very local history, gardens, old buildings whether restored or tumbled down, and the opportunity to sit quietly and absorb something of each place.

  10. Never too late MM - spare bed's made up, cat's already in place on the bottom, and the kettle's on. What more do you want?!

  11. Lovely description in words and pics of this beautiful area from which we returned quite recently, though we didn't have time for Dinefwr (have I spelled that correctly?).