Ynys Enlli - Bardsey Island

Synopsis:

Ynys Enlli - Bardsey Island is situated just off the Llyn Peninsular, it has a reputation for its tidal currents, its association with the early Celtic Christianity, even with King Arthur, Merlin and the Treasures of Britain in traditions.

Porth Meudwy on the Llyn peninsular is one of the traditional bay from which access by sea to Bardsey was available. Today within the present time, the bay continues to be used in this manner. Ynys Enlli (the island of currents) is generally upheld to have been started by St. Cadvan in the 6th century, as a regular secular religious retreat from the world. The general means of access onto the island was by a circular coracle which allowed the sea currents to direct the passenger as though it was in the fate of the divine where its occupant landed. The most prominent landing point was on the north east section of the Enlli, in a small bay, from which a path has been well worn over the years. The pathway in itself is unavailable today as access is prevented by a brambles which have been allowed to grow naturally for the benefit of the wildlife, in particular the migrating birds. Natural springs abound on Mynydd Enlli where some of which survive as holy wells.

Archaeology speaking round houses exist on the mountain within a small flat area, but no excavations have been undertaken there. However other archaeology investigations have been carried out from an earlier period recently. But this awaits publication which is outside the traditional associations placed on the island.

Ever scince Gerald of Wales wrote and populised the tradition concerning that 20,000 saints said to be burid on the island in 1188. This figure has since entered popular tradition, although the Book of Lannduff written between 1120-40AD/CE records the same number earlier. Nonetheless this same figure still remains constant to this day. Interestingly Gerald of Wales refers to the occupants on the island as Culdee's in the late 12th century. This would suggest it was prior to the island being taking over by the Auginstine Rule when St. Mary's was built there. The church survived until the the 16th century when Henry VIII disolved the monestry.

 

During the Grand Tour of Thomas Pennant who also visited Bradsey, he records the tower of St. Mary's in a better state than what can be seen today. The remains of the church as illustrated in photo as seen in May 1998 No vaulted rooms remain although these where in exsitance at the time of Pennant visit. Additionally Pennant also recorded a small chapel near one of the Holy Wells on the Island. Overall the island came into the ownership of Lord Newborogh of Glenllifon during the 19th century. The island expirenced many changes with new buildings and a chapel being built. A thriving community lived there right into the mid 20th century along with its own proclaimed King; who's crown is now held in the Liverpool Museum. Today the Island is owned by the Bardseyt Trust where visitors can rent out proporties for a longer stay, rather than the day visit which are available dependant on the sea conditions. The remaining occupants on the Island today is a local farmer together with a bird warden and the lighthouse keepers.

However, Rev. P. B. Williams of Llanrug, published a list of names of the abotts and saints which were intured on the island from the Ist Abbot Lluedad through untill Huh ap Richard ap Sion in the regin of Elizabeth I. Yet the authenticity of this listed remains unverifiable to some degree. Athough overall it appears to have been extacted originally from various sources which named individuals who had been recorded as being interered on the island.

Notable people and Saints buried on Ynys Enlli, according to Rev. P. B. Williams, of Llanrug
Lluedad (Laudatus) 1st Abbot of Bardsey
Dufrig (Duisricius) who was the archbishop of Caerlleon ar Wsysg or Llanduf 
St. David, who retired there from the synod of Brefi held at Ddewi Brefi south of Aberystwyth 
Cadvan who came to wales from Llydaw or Armorica and attended the following Padarn, Hywyn. Sulien, Tanwy, Tydecho, Tecwyn and others.
Dewedan or Dwrdan from whom Bodwrda in the neighbourhood is supposed to be called, Or Cowrda to whom the Abersrch church is dedicated. 
Daniel 1st Bishop of Bangor
Beuno
 Myrddin ap Morfryn (Merlinus Caledoninius or Sylvesteris)
Hwyyn ap Gwnda Hen, steward to Cadvan and to the saints on Bardsey
Dervel to whom Llan Dderfel in Merionethshire is dedicated
Eineon or Engan Frenin, King of Llyn
Cawrdof, St at Abererch
Cadwattawn ap Owian Gwynedd, abbot in the year 1169
Thomas ap Griffith Nicholas of Dinevor 
 Griffiths ap Thomas nephew if Griffiths ap Nicholas was intererd there
Hugh ap Richard ap sion ap madog of Bpodwrda was buried there in the time of Elizabeth I

 

An additional tradition which has been connected to the Island from the Arthurian Tradition concerns Merlin. Indeed a variant is mentioned in the list prepared by Rev. P. B. Williams of Llanrug. Ynys Enlli has been refered to as the Glass House; together with being the last resting place of the Thirteen Treasures of Britain which were taken there by Myrddin.

Astrocelt 2005

Last updated April 14, 2005

Bibliography


Tags:
Bardsey, Celtic Christianity, Saints, Ynys Enlli,
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