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New book explores pilgrim sites across Wales and beyond

06 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Author Anne Hayward

A new book exploring pilgrim sites and the Christian faith in Wales has been published this week.

Where the Saints Came From: On Pilgrimage in Wales and Beyond by Anne Hayward (Y Lolfa) tells the story of the Christian faith in Wales from late-Roman times to the present day.

It also includes discussion of over forty off-the-beaten-track religious sites and artefacts.

It combines extensive research on the sites and history with thousands of miles of walking on pilgrimage in Wales and further afield.

Author Anne Hayward is a long-distance walker and contemporary pilgrim based in the Bannau Brycheiniog area of South Wales – she studied modern history at Oxford University and went on to become a teacher.

She said: “Where the Saints Came From is different from my other books in that it is a compilation of over 40 suggested places to visit, all of which I have come across while walking on pilgrimage in Wales and beyond.

“All the material is new and is based on my experiences as a long-distance walker and contemporary pilgrim.

“I always have a great time whether I’m in places of wild beauty or more urban areas, near the coast or inland. Above all, what I have learnt is the joy of slow travel and how there can be places of interest and significance wherever you go.”

The book covers topics such as early medieval ecclesiastical bells, the impact of faith and belief in the Civil War of the seventeenth century, and the portrayal of Celtic saints in modern literature and art.


Anne said: “I don’t have a favourite site as such but gems that stand out in my memory include the very poignant memorial to Blessed William Davies at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beaumaris and the excellent Margam Stones Museum near Port Talbot.

“Also, some very tucked away places such as the old ‘Friends’ graveyard at Quakers Yard near Merthyr Tydfil and the landscape features associated with St Tydecho near Llanymawddwy in the south of Eryri.”

Where the Saints Came From will appeal to anyone who is interested in history – especially Church history, and associated spirituality, in Wales and the wider British Isles – and to those who enjoy walking and the outdoors.

On the practicalities of walking on pilgrimage, Anne said: “I would have to say that I don’t generally follow ‘official’ pilgrimage routes but make up routes of my own, devising from existing footpaths and public rites of way. This has led to some glorious walking. I also get to stay (I’m a lightweight camper) in some very special places too!

“This year I will be undertaking my tenth annual pilgrimage, setting out after Easter for St Malo and Dol-de-Bretagne in northern France.

“I’m also planning another trip in the north of England in the summer and beginning to think about 2025, when I hope to walk across Wales again and make my way to Armagh, the ancient religious centre in Northern Ireland.”

Where the Saints Came From will be launched at 7pm on Monday 10 April at Book-ish in Crickhowell.

Where the Saints Came From by Anne Hayward (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

Sites included in the book are:

Church of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Beaumaris
St Tysilio’s Church, Menai Bridge
The churchyard cross, Tremeirchion
Holy Cross Church, Woodchurch
The Gladstone Library, Hawarden
Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Bala
Mary Jones Pilgrim Centre, Llanycil
Capel Celyn Memorial Chapel
St Tudclud’s Church, Penmachno
St Gwyddelan’s Church, Dolwyddelan
St David’s Church, Blaenau Ffestiniog
St Cian’s Church, Llangian
St Mary’s Abbey, Bardsey
Sarn Helen
The Pilgrim Cross at Bwlch y Groes, Gwynedd
St Tydecho’s Church, Llanymawddwy
Jerusalem Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Refail
Shrine of St Winefride, Shrewsbury Abbey
The Pales Meeting House, Llandegley
St Padarn’s Church, Llanbadarn Fawr, Powys
St David’s Church, Dylife
Ffald y Brenin, Pontfaen, Fishguard
St Samson of Dol and Caldey Island
The Hospital, Llawhaden
Roman Amphitheatre, Heol y Prior, Carmarthen
The Llandeilo Gospels Exhibition, Llandeilo
Castle Car Park, Llandovery
St Cadmarch’s Church, Llangammarch Wells
St Matthew’s Church, Llandefalle
The Vaughan Walk, Talybont-on-Usk
St Tydfil’s Old Parish Church, Merthyr Tydfil
Hanover Chapel, Llanover
Chepstow, Tintern and Lancaut
Tabernacle United Reformed Church, Llanfaches
Afon Col-huw, Llantwit Major
Ewenny Priory Church
St Cynwyd’s Church, Llangynwyd
The Saints’ Way, Fowey, Cornwall
Church of St Pompée, Langoat, France
Kirk Maughold, Isle of Man
St Mary’s Church, Putney, London
St Mungo on High Street, Glasgow

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

A suggestion for Bae Abermaw and its environs is from Llangelynin (grave of Abram Woods) in the south to Llanaber (featured in the film Happy Now) and Llandanwg (the church in the sand) in the North with a walk up and down the Mawddach to Dolgellau via Arthog, Caredeon (Darwin), Cymer Abbey and Tabor Quaker graves… If your walk coincides with a stormy low tide you will see St Patrick’s white causeway to Ireland from the private church of Cors y Gedol , if you take the hill past the hall there will be found a neolithic burial and another… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Arthur Owen
Arthur Owen
1 month ago

Shouldn’t that be ‘Rhydychen university’.

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