Maen Achwyfan, Whitford, Flintshire

Cross: OS Grid Refence – SJ 129 788

Also Known as:

  1. The Stone of Lamentation
  2. St Cwyfan’s Stone

Getting Here

Maen Achwyfan Cross (after J.O. Westwood)

Go north on the A5026 from the town of Holywell for about 3 miles; at the hamlet of Lloc take the turning first right towards Trelogan village for another mile – the ancient cross stands in the corner of a field at the junction of 3 roads at the turning from Whitford to Trelogan, halfway between Whitford and Sarn. The cross can also be reached via Pantasaph from the A55.

History

The cross probably dates from 1000 AD and is said to be the tallest wheel-headed cross in Wales, standing at 11 feet 3′ in height. The metal fence surrounding the cross spoils the monument quite a bit, but it is there for security reasons.  It is richly decorated on all sides and on the cross-head. Much of the decoration is Celtic in origin, but there are also Viking influences here, probably Northumbrian. On the south face there is a human figure standing on a serpent that has associations with the Norse god Odin; also a three-legged horse that may also be connected to Odin. The north-west face has Celtic pattern-work in the form of the letter “X” and below that another figure (naked) holding a spear. The north-east face is rather eroded, but there is some Celtic-style decoration. There is more knotwork and chainwork elsewhere on the cross with other animal figures.  The wheel-head has a distinctive central boss and a four star-shaped cross radiating from the boss.

Folklore and Legend

The cross is also called ‘The Stone of Lamentation’ because penances were carried out at the cross in the Middle Ages. This act would have concluded with weeping and the ‘act of contrition’ by pilgrims visiting the site whilst making their way between St Winifred’s Well and St David’s.  Legend says that St Cwyfan, a local 7th century Celtic saint preached on this site and set-up the cross – hence the name, Maen Achwyfan.  One local legend tells us that Queen Boudica fought her last battle against the Romans close by in the fields called ‘Cydio ar Leni’ or ‘The fields of the seizing legions’.  During the Middle Ages the monks of Basingwerk Abbey preached at the cross and also set up a chapel for pilgrims just to the south at Whitford.

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Celtic Crosses of Wales”, in Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1899.
  2. Owen, Rev. Elias, Old Stone Crosses of the Vale of Clwyd and Neighbouring Parishes, Bernard Quaritch: London & Oswestry 1886.
  3. Sharkey, John, Celtic High Crosses of Wales, Carreg Gwalch: Llanrwst 1998.
  4. Westwood, J.O., Lapidarium Walliæ – The Early Incised and Sculptured Stones of Wales, Oxford University Press 1879.

Copyright © Ray Spencer 2011

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About sunbright57

I am interested in holy wells, standing stones and ancient crosses; also anything old, prehistoric, or unusual.
This entry was posted in Crosses, Flintshire, Wales and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Maen Achwyfan, Whitford, Flintshire

  1. Emma Canbury says:

    I saw an electrical discharge from the Stone of Lamentations when I was a child (about 1972), and have been told it was probably some natural phenomenon, but I have since spoken to others who have seen lightning bolt type of discharges from the top of the stone, which is said to be some guardian stone.

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