St Brynach's Church

North Pembrokeshire

With its overgrown castle and atmospheric church, the little village of Nevern, 2 miles east of Newport, makes a good objective for an easy walk or ride. St Brynach's beautifully melancholic churchyard dates from around the 6th century, predating the 13th-century church itself. Its supremely gloomy alley of yew trees is estimated to be upwards of six centuries old. The second yew on the right is the so-called bleeding yew, named after the curious reddish-brown sap that oozes from it.

Immediately outside the church grounds you'll see an 18th-century stone mounting block, installed to save the gentry any undignified scrambling on or off their mounts as they attended church. Within the picturesque graveyard is a tall Celtic cross, one of the finest in Wales, decorated with interlace patterns and dating from the 10th or 11th century. According to tradition, the first cuckoo that sings each year in Pembrokeshire does so from atop this cross on St Brynach's Day (7 April).

Inside the church, the Maglocunus Stone, thought to date from the 5th century, forms a window sill in the south transept. It is one of the few carved stones that bears an inscription in both Latin and Ogham. Stones like these were important tools for deciphering the meaning of the ancient Celtic script.

Up on the wooded hill behind the church you'll find a pilgrims' cross and the scant remains of Nevern Castle, originally a Welsh stronghold, then rebuilt by the Normans and eventually destroyed by the Welsh in 1195.

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