Roland Turner

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This morning we left Hay-on-Wye via the Black Mountains. Several miles out of Hay we reached the base of Hay Bluff which was (a) large and (b) incredibly windy. The group photo had to be taken a second time because on the first attempt, in the ten seconds between my pressing the button and the photo being taken, the wind caused the camera to turn sufficiently to cut my mother out of the photo. This is probably the first time that I have ever had to lock the pan-axis to take a photo. The view over the Black Mountains was impressive, and the sheep wandering freely over this high-altitude commons made for interesting driving.

A little further along, we passed a building that looked barn-like, but that had church-like arches and not-entirely-church-like battlements. This demanded closer inspection.

It turns out that it was the gatehouse for the Llanthony Priory. 'What is that' I hear you ask? Well, firstly a priory appears to be a minor monastery, attached and subordinate to an abbey (another, larger, type of monastery). At Llanthony Priory is a still-operating parish church dedicated to St David (patron saint of Wales) apparently built on the site of St David's 6th Century Cell (a hermit's hut, or a priory; in this case I suspect that both meanings apply). The map is a mess, but in short, the ruined priory church is the obvious cross-shaped sturcture in the north-east, the gatehouse that caught our attention in the first place is to the west, the church on the site of St David's Cell is to the south of the priory church labelled 'Parish Church'.

Why is this important? If my understanding is correct, Christianity contracted enormously at about this time to some comparatively isolated places; sites like this were where Christianity survived its low point and thus from where all subsequent Christianity sprang. It's remoteness was important to its survival 1500 years ago; in the last several hundred years remoteness has brought it destruction and ruin.

The horses don't appear to mind.

We then passed in the vicinity of Abergavenny and Monmouth on our way to Tintern where we stopped to examine another ruined abbey; that would be Tintern Abbey of course. A simple plaque with a most improbable-seeming claiming is attached to a wall here.

From here we took the motorway all the way to Exeter and then the A30 to Launceston, just over the river Tamar which forms most of the Cornwall-England border. A few miles south of Launceston, we found a B&B at Lynher Farm, near 'North Hill'.