If you live in Pontarddulais, you’re lucky enough to have the Pontarddulais Heritage Trail on your doorstep – an easy 4 mile circular walking route, which guides you through a village packed with stories.
Book ended by the twin commemorative stones erected to mark the Rebecca Riots, the trail features more about the heroes of that struggle, the effect the town had on famous Welsh poets Dylan and Edward Thomas and takes in the old site of St Teilo’s church, or Llandeilo Tal-y-bont.
Midway through the trail you will find a marsh that was part of a busy Middle Ages pathway across south Wales.
The 12th church that once stood here is now at the National Museum of History at St Fagans, but you can still walk around the graveyard.
The church was dedicated to St Teilo, a contemporary of St David, and one time challenger for the title of patron saint of Wales. In the Middle Ages, the church was visited by many pilgrims, making their way to St David’s in Pembrokeshire.
As you walk around the graveyard, keep an eye out for the headstone of Gwilym Hopcin, who was well regarded and may have been a participant in the Rebecca Riots.
The last service at the church was held in 1970, and in the 1980’s it was scheduled as an ancient monument by Cadw. As the decaying church could not be saved at its original site, in 1984 it was carefully dismantled stone by stone and re-erected at St Fagans.
As the process of dismantling the church began, two amazing wall-paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries were discovered, as well as numerous areas of decorative patterns. These were all carefully recorded, removed and conserved.
The church re-opened to the public at St Fagans in 2007 and has been refurbished as it may have appeared in around 1530, complete with altars, carvings and brightly coloured paintings on all the walls.
Video & Image Credits: ©Amgueddfa Cymru