Nantlle Valley History

Clynnog Fawr


A brief history of Clynnog Fawr

Clynnog Fawr, often simply called Clynnog, is a village on the north coast of the Llyn peninsula in Gwynedd, north-west Wales.

Clynnog Fawr lies on the A499 road between Caernarfon and Pwllheli. It had a population of 130 in 1991. The main feature of the village is the church, dedicated to Saint Beuno, which is much larger than would be expected in a village of Clynnog's size. The site is that of a Celtic monastery founded by Beuno in the early 7th century. It developed into an important foundation and some Welsh law manuscripts specify that the Abbot of Clynnog was entitled to a seat at the court of the king of Gwynedd.

St. Beuno's Church, Clynnog Fawr
St. Beuno's Church, Clynnog Fawr.

The church is recorded as being burnt in 978 by the Vikings and later burnt again by the Normans. By the end of the 15th century it was a collegiate church, one of only six in Wales. The church was an important stopping place for pilgrims heading for Bardsey Island and contains Cyff Beuno, an ancient wooden chest hollowed out of a single piece of ash and used to keep alms (money or goods contributed to the poor) donated by the pilgrims. 'Maen Beuno' or Beuno's Stone has markings reputed to be those of Beuno's fingers. Outside in the churchyard there is a sundial dated between the late 10th century and the early 12th century.

Clynnog is strategically sited at the northern end of a pass connecting the northern and southern coasts of the Lleyn peninsula, and the area has been the site of a number of battles, including the Battle of Bron yr Erw in 1075 when Gruffudd ap Cynan's first bid to become king of Gwynedd was defeated by Trahaearn ap Caradog and the Battle of Bryn Derwin in 1255 when Llywelyn the Last defeated his brothers Owain and Dafydd to become sole ruler of Gwynedd.

Other famous people from Clynnog include Morus Clynnog and Saint John Jones; both prominent Welsh Catholics in the 16th century.

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