Sunday 3 October 2010

Non Appearance

I have stretched the meaning of a "staycation" a little by spending three days fishing and walking on the St David's peninsula. I take a closer look at the familiar landmark of St Non's Well and Chapel a mile south of the City, marking the spot where St David was born to Non in a thunderstorm.

There isn't much there aside from some modern mariolatrous kitsch presumably erected by the RC retreat nearby along with a modern chapel now incongruously littered with New Age trash. The only ancient object apart from the ruinous walls of the old chapel is a stone with a simple cross in a circle. This is widely copied in descriptions of the site, which typically show a descending line below the circle - the bottom end of the crucifix as it were. But closer inspection suggests to me that this line is a cruder, later addition following a natural fault in the rock: you can see what I mean from my photo. This is significant as the simple cross confined within the circle strongly suggests a very early date in Celtic Christianity echoing similar imagery on the maritime highway from mainland Europe through the Irish sea up to the Scottish isles, plausibly a link to the early saints commemorated by tradition on this spot.

No luck with the fishing - I should have thrown a coin in Non's Well before I tackled up.

Postscript: checking my facts after writing this I note that the Pope on his recent visit used some water from Non's Well to bless a new mosaic of St David in Westminster Cathedral. For no good reason this reminds me of the job I had for a few days many years ago as a cleaner in the Cardinal Archbishop's palace at Westminster. Sadly no Da Vinci Code-style revelations to disclose but I did learn that toilets cannot be kept clean by simply giving them a visible dusting of Vim, a lesson pointedly conveyed by the housekeeper when the smell became unbearable. Perhaps water from the holy Well would have helped?

My second photo shows the view west from Caerfai towards Ramsey at dusk, with Grassholm just visible on the horizon to the left