Cynog: places


The map shows sites associated with Cynog. The main cult centre of Merthyr Cynog is shown as a red triangle; solid circles denote associated places attested before 1600 A.D. (black indicates place-names, blue textual evidence); white circles denote associations of various kinds first recorded after 1600. Scroll down for the evidence.

The format of the entries is as follows. In the English-language listing the  place-name follows Ordnance Survey usage on the current 1:25,000 sheets.  County abbreviations are those adopted by Melville Richards (WATU). On the next line each place is coded for type of association: place-name, church dedication, text (= written poems and narratives), lore (= accounts of practice), with a simple numeral to indicate the century of first record. A fuller discussion of the evidence follows, where appropriate; bibliographic references are incorporated or and/or listed at the end. [Note that all of the references and abbreviations will click through to the project bibliography in due course.] Sometimes more than one type of evidence relates to the place, and these types are separately categorised; except where place-name associations are also reflected in church dedications – evidence for this is noted, but these dedications are not separately classified.

1. Battle BRE (SO 008309)

#dedication, 18

Browne Willis 1733: 180

2. Boughrood RAD (SO 127392)

#dedication, 18

Browne Willis 1733: 184

3. Caerwedros CRD (SN 376557)

#text, 15

Where Cynog, coming from Ireland, battles a giant, according to CynogHD. The present small settlement of Caerwedros, at the site of Castell Caerwedros, is roughly central to the wider district, the medieval commote, which bore the name and is presumably referred to in the poem.

4. Defynnog BRE (SN 925279)

#dedication,  18

Browne Willis 1733: 181

#lore, 19

Cynog’s Gwyl Mabsant was a week of festivities at Defynnog beginning on the Sunday after the second Thursday in October. On the Monday, Dydd Llun Gwyl Gynog, the custom of ‘carrying Cynog’ took place: a stranger or unpopular local was carried through the streets and thrown in the river. The practice is said to have ceased around 1822. See Moggridge 1853; LBS ii, 269; TWS: 184. For discussion of the phenomenon, and a comparable custom of curo Tudur at Darowen MTG, see Suggett 1996: 101–2.

5. Y Fan (Merthyr Cynog) BRE (SN 985353)

#text, 18

The hill above Merthyr Cynog where the 18th-century oral tale places the saint’s martyrdom. He had a cell ‘under a steep rock near the top of the Mountain’; it was on top of the rock that a spring came forth – a spring which dried up when his jealous fellow-monks cut him down. The hill is called ‘the Vann about four miles from Brecknock and about 2 miles from Carevong ’. It is presumably to be identified with the eminence, beside Merthyr Cynog, where ‘Fan’ names cluster: on the 6″ map of 1905 the top (where a prehistoric fort is marked) is labelled Corn y Fan, the hillside Allt y Fan, and farms on the slopes are Fan-uchaf and Fan-isaf. This hill is in fact some 5 miles from Brecon, and 3½ from the site here suggested for Carevong (see Y Gaer).

6. Y Gaer (Fenni-fach) BRE (SN 985353)

#text, 18

The 18th-century oral tale places Cynog’s father’s ‘Metropolitan City’ at a site called Carevong, and later describes it as the place of Cynog’s birth ‘which is now destroyed and called the Gare’. This is Y Gaer, the Roman fort which is considered the likely site of Roman-British Cicucium. On the name Carevong see Williams 1935; see also Thomas (1689: 28–30), showing that the relayer of the tale was independently familiar with the name. Nothing in the narrative actually takes place at Y Gaer, but Cynog’s first eremetical retreat is said to have been about a mile from here, ‘not far from the high Roade betweene Brecknock and Battle’.

7. Llangasty Tal-y-llyn BRE (SO 133261)

#text, 16

According to CB, the child Cynog was baptised by Saint Gastayn whose church is ‘now situated by Mara [iuxta maram]’. The reference is surely to Llangasty Tal-y-llyn, which is recorded as the church of St Castan juxta maram in 1486 (ERStD, ii, 468). The Mara, or ‘mere’, is Llan-gors Lake / Llyn Syfaddan.

8. Llangunnock (St Weonard’s) HER (SO 510232)

#place-name, 12

Lann cinauc in the 12th-century Book of Llandaf (LL: 275; Coplestone-Crow 2009: 147). There is no church on the site now.

9. Llangunnog MON (SO 454014)

#place-name, 12

One or both of two variant forms copied in the 12th-century Book of Llandaf can be associated with this place: Villam Lannguern Cynuc is in a papal document dated 1119, while hen lenic cinauc arpill (‘the little old church of Cynog on Pill Brook’) derives from a charter that was probably drawn up in the earlier 11th century (GweRM: 133; LL: 90, 252). There is no surviving church at the site, but the ruins of ‘St. Cynog’s Chapel’ are marked on 6″.

10. Llangynog BRE (SO 024459)

#place-name, 16

Capel Cunok on Saxton’s map of 1578; formerly a chapelry of Llanganten parish. For the place-name see BreRM: 107. The dedication is noted by Browne Willis 1733: 182

11. Llangynog CRM (SN 338149)

#place-name, 16

Llangenocke, Llangenoke 1557–8 NLW Llwyngwair 14233.

12. Llangynog MTG (SJ 053261)

#place-name, 13

Lankenauc in the Valuation of Norwich of 1254 (VN: 470; MtgRM: 115). The dedication is noted by Browne Willis 1733: 220. Although at some distance from the main concentration of sites – and the only Cynog dedication in the diocese of St Asaph – it is worth noting in support of the identification that Browne Willis gives a feast-date of 8 October, which tallies with our Cynog. DNPW: 266 implies that the identification is also supported by the dedication of nearby Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant to ‘Doewan, another son of Brychan’ (albeit a relatively late-recorded one): see LBS ii, 346–7 on the subject.

13. Merthyr Cynog BRE (SN 984374)

#place-name, 12

The earliest form is Marteconoc, appearing in a document purporting to date from 1126 or 1127, though it may be no earlier than the manuscript of the later 12th-century. The forms are presented in full in Parsons 2013: 68–70. The church-dedication is recorded by Browne Willis 1733: 180.

#text, 13

The Brychan genealogies state that Cynog is buried at Merthyr in Brycheiniog. The 18th-century oral tale says his decapitated body came down from the neighbouring hillside – the church of Merthyr Cynog was raised where the head was laid to rest. Part of Hugh Thomas’s story appears to be in explanation of the circumstance that two churches seem to have stood very close together (and he says that ruins of the earlier were still evident when he visited c.1702): ‘the Parish kept the two Churches standing within a fields breadh of each other till the time of King Charles the first when … the oldest church was pulled downe’.

14. Merthyr Cynog (Laugharne) CRM (SN 250094)

#place-name, 14

The earliest form noted is Castelloyd and Mertherkenang [for ‑aug] 1307. The name appears to survive as Parc Cynog on the modern map, adjacent to Castle Lloyd Farm in Laugharne parish. There is no trace of an associated church, but a little to the east is Cynog’s Well, tending to confirm a local cult-centre – though it cannot be known for certain if this is the same Cynog, son of Brychan. See Parsons 2013: 70–2.

15. Penderyn BRE (SN 944085)

#dedication, 18

Browne Willis 1733: 181

16. St Kenox (Llawhaden) PEM (SN 073162)

#place-name, 16

Earliest form unam mans[ionem] cum terris … que vocatur Seynt Canock 1535 VE, iv, 389. PNPem ii, 422–3, accepts the identification with Cynog, but notes that ‘nothing is known of a church or chapel at this place’.

17. Upper Chapel (Merthyr Cynog) BRE (SO 007405)

#dedication, 18

Browne Willis 1733: 180

18. Ystradgynlais BRE (SN 787100)

#dedication, 18

Browne Willis 1733: 181.