Thomas Gray.

The buried city of Kenfig / by Thomas Gray online

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it were, the delightful prospect. Ty Tanglwys is a
smiling solitude.

To return again to the Groes-y-dadl. Through the
glorious landscape creeps the Roman highway, ^ as
narrow as it was when the Second Legion passed
along, and up in front it climbs, passing Ty Tanglwys,
a white, narrow streak, and then we lose it just east
of Old Dallas trees, for it goes to meet the pleasant
breezes of Stormy Down ; in winter the Roman
soldiers cursed its nakedness and nearness to the
clouds when it had reached the open downs. On
your left is the narrow gorge, the Forth or Gate,
through which the Kenfig river emerges and in which
is hidden Llantihangel Mill, as hot in that hollow
to-day as Araby. On the south side of the gorge is
Marias, with goodly trees and grateful shade. Here

' Heol-y-sheet : this is a puzzle ; what it means I cannot say,
there being no " sh " sound in Welsh. It may be a corruption
of Heol-y-stryd, the road of the vale, or the main road.


Thomas le Marie invented a new excuse, although it
was so long ago, for taking the property of others ; he
did it out of " levity of mind." A little south by east
stands amon^ noble trees and brightest meadows the

o o

Hall, where nearly eight hundred years ago Thomas
Gramus lived and loved and gave his lands with lavish
hand to Blessed Mary of Margan.

Dominating all is the British camp on the end of
the ridge of Cefn Cribwr east from here, and one
clearly sees the importance of the position of the
ancient camp seated right on the point. Old " Castel
Kribor " was in far-off days a noted place of defence —
so important that I venture in all humility to say it
gave its name to Pyle or Pylle or Pill, as it is variously
spelled. Pill is a fortress, a place of defence, in
Welsh. ^ Pyle lay at the feet of the camp and gladly
took its name.

Turn round to look to west, and then no pleasant
fields greet the eye ; the golden sands reign supreme.

We have read in the Ordinance of Kenfig of the
cross and the care with which it was guarded. I do
not know if it was the Groes-y-dadl ; I am inclined to
think it refers to the market cross. All towns and
villages had their market cross, in some cases open
and vaulted structures. Mr. Pope, in his "Old Stone
Crosses of Dorset," says: "Often on market and fair
days a preaching friar would address the people from
the market-cross, reminding them of the sacredness of
bargains, and telling them, both buyers and sellers, to
be true and just in all their dealings, and that ' no one

' Leland : " In the Edge of a Mountaine northward standith
an old Castle or Pyle, called Castle Coch."


ought to go beyond or defraud his brother in any
matter.' " The same writer says : " There were
Memorial Crosses, Churchyard or Preaching-Crosses,
Market, and Village -Crosses, Boundary -Crosses,
Weeping-Crosses, and Pilgrim-Crosses."

Although the cross was known as the Groes-y-dadl,
it was erected for a different purpose from that of
marking a place of contention and of disputes. The
emblem of the Passion of the Saviour of the world
was placed by the roadside, on mountains, and in
lonely places so that passers-by might be reminded of
the sufferings endured for their sake, for things and
events presented to the eye are realised more vividly
than when read of or spoken of. At these roadside
crosses funeral processions were formerly stopped for
a rest and meditation. In the words of a writer in
the fifteenth century, " For this reason ben crosses
by ye waye, that when folke passinge see the crosses,
they sholde thynke on Hym that dyed on the Crosse,
and worshyppe Hym above all thynge." ^

The Groes-y-dadl was placed high above the sur-
rounding country, a short distance from the then main
highway and near the road leading to S. Mary
Magdalene's Chapel. Here, doubtless, as funeral
processions wended their way to the chapel of S.
James's Church, as the sacred emblem came in sight
a halt would be made — the last halt before the earthly

Not far off, on the road passing Marias Farm, is

' " Dives and Pauper." Printed by Wynken de Worde a.d. 1496.
From " Forgotten Sanctuaries," by Miss Gwenllian E. F.


the Groes Siencyn, an incised cross with arms of
about eleven inches long on a round-headed slab ; it
marks the borough boundary. The Rev. Thomas
Howell tells me it marks the spot where a man
was buried in an upright position, and great was the
fear with which he and other boys passed the cross
at night.

On the side of the turnpike road, about seven
hundred yards up the hill towards Stormy Down, is
the base of a wayside cross similar to the base of the

On the boundary line of Kenfig parish south of
Groes Siencyn stood another cross, the Groes-y-gryn ;
perhaps Groes-y-gryniau, the cross of groanings.

In the churchyard of St. James's at Pyle a consider-
able part of the churchyard cross still remains, and in
the position usually given to the cross in front of the
entrance door — one of the few remaining crosses in
our " God's acres."

In Margam parish, the Abbey MSS. tell us, a cross
existed on the roadside leading from Rhyd Blaen-y-
Cwm, at the top of Kenfig Valley, to Ton Mawr ; it
was called Groes Gruffyd. Another cross stood near
Ton Grugos, at the top of the lane leading up the
mountain from Troed-y-rhiw. Cynan's Cross " stood
on the roadside between the top of Cwm Kenfig and
the top of Baiden. There was also a cross called
Brombil's Cross, probably the village cross, at Groes,
and which may be the reason of the village being so
named. It is probable that all the crosses remained

^ Cynan may be the son of Cynwyd, patron saint of Llangyn-


until the Act for the demolition of crosses, passed
1643, came into force.


A considerable part of Kenfig borough lies in
Margam parish, and in this part is a farm having a
name which had long puzzled me — Ty'n-y-seler ; ^ on
the Ordnance Survey, Ty'n-y-Cellar. It stands on
the west side of the Roman road Heol-y-troedwyr,
"Soldier's Lane," or, as it is now called, Water Street,

As to the origin of the name : in the monasteries
it was the rule to allocate farms or other property to
the offices of the various officials, with which to pro-
vide the necessary funds for carrying on the duties
appertaining to them. The abbot, the cellarer, the
sacrist, the almoner, the infirmarer, the tailor, the
shoemaker, and others, each had lands with separate
granges. In that delightful book, "The Chronicle of
Jocelin of Brakelond, Monk of St. Edmundsbury," we
are told, for instance, about the cellarer of St.
Edmund's Abbey. " The cellarer had his messuage
and barns near Scurun's well, at which place he was
accustomed to exercise his jurisdiction upon robbers
and to hold his court for all pleas and plaints. Also
at that place he was accustomed to put his men in
pledge, and to enroll them and to renew their pledges
every year, and to take such profit therefor as the
bailiff of the town was to take at the portman-moot.
This messuage, with the adjacent garden, now in the
occupation of the infirmarer (the Abbey official who
' Seler — cellar. %


had charge of the sick), was the mansion of Beodric,
who was of old time the lord of the town, and
after whom also the town came to be called Beodrics-
worth. His demesne lands are now in the demesne
of the cellarer . . . and the total amount of the
holding of himself and his churls was thirty times
thirty acres of land. . . ."

T. 280 (C. MCCCXVIII) is a lease for seventy
years by Abbot John Gruffydd to Jevan ap David ap
Jankyn and his wife of two parcels of the tithes of the
sheaves at Ffynon Gattuke, one of which belongs to
the " Domus Sutorum," or the shoemaker's house, of
the Abbey of Margam, and the other parcel to the
stibselaria of the Abbey. Subsellaria is the sub-
cellarer's house.

T. 4120 is a lease by Sir Edward Mansell of a
messuage and tenement in the parish of Margam,
manor of East Margam and Higher Kenfigge, called
"The Cellar." This is Ty'n Seler. Dated a.d. 1692.

Here, then, we have the key to the meaning of
Ty'n-y-Seler, the farm or homestead assigned to
the cellarer of Margam Abbey or the homestead
of the cellar, the office of the cellarer, shortened by
custom into Ty'n-y-Seler. The cellarer was one of
the most important of the Abbey officials ; the official,
in the song of " Simon the Cellarer," existed only in
the imagination of the writer. The cellarer was the
manager, in fact, of the monastic establishment ;
he was the purveyor of all foodstuffs for the com-
munity ; he had to keep an eye on all stores, to
see that the corn came into the granges and flour
from the mills, that flesh, fish, and vegetables


were ready at hand. He had to attend fairs and
markets to make purchases. All the servants were
under him, and he alone could engage or dismiss, and
he presided at their table. He also saw to the fuel
supply, repairs and purchases of all materials. The
cellarer's accounts, which have come down to us, are
models of carefully kept documents ; they invariably
commenced with the entry of the cost of the parch-
ment on which the account is written.

John de la Warre, cellarer of Margam Abbey,
became Abbot in a.d. 1237, and Bishop of Llandaff
in A.D. 1253.

Ty-yn-y-seler, Ty-yn-y-ffynnon, shortened into Ty'n-
y-seler, ty'n-y-ffynnon, regarded as the house in the
cellar and the house in the well, is nonsense. Properly
it should be Tyddyn-y-Seler — the homestead of the
cellar, and Tyddyn-y-ffynnon — the homestead of the
well. " Tyddyn seems to mean a ' house-hill,' i.e. a
place suited for a house. Ty, a house — in old Welsh,
tig — is for tegios, corresponding to the Greek TI70C (a
house). From the word tig is partly derived the
word tyddyn, plural tyddynau. In modern Welsh
place-names tyddyn is reduced to tyn, as Tyn yr
onnen for Tyddyn yr onnen ; Tyn Siarlas for
Tyddyn Siarlas (Charles's tenement)." ^

Lewis, in the " Ancient Laws of Wales," writes : —
" Tyddyn : this word also denoted an acre of land with
the homestead on it. The Venedotian Code gives
maenor (in place of the trev) = 4 trevs = 16 rhandirs
(sharelands) = 64 gavaels = 256 tyddyns = 1,024
erws. The erw was the unit of occupied land, and
' " The Welsh People," Rhys and Jones.


it was measured with the plough." The same author
says : " The measure of a lawful acre, i.e. erw, is a
rod of the length of the tallest man in the vill, with
the length of his arm ; sixty lengths of that rod are to
be the length of the erw ; its breadth is the length of
that rod on either side of the driver, with the length of
his arm, he holding the middle of the middle yoke in
the plough."

The Maenh!r at Ty'n-y-Seler.

Standing in a field, near Ty'n-y-seler, is a large
monolith or maenhtr 8 feet high, 5J feet wide, and
3 feet thick. Miss Emily David, Maesgwyn, informed
me that it is said in the neighbourhood this huge
stone goes each Christmas morning before cockcrow,
to drink in the sea.

When we look at this great solitary stone we are
apt to wonder, as probably did the Romans fifteen
hundred years ago, and ask — many have asked me —
What is the meaning of it ; for what purpose was it
placed there } It has no inscription on it, nothing to
indicate to us the reason for its standing there ; grim
and impassive it stands.

We must look to other parts, where knowledge has
been gained regarding these monoliths, for the key
with which to unlock the secret.

The Rev. S. Baring-Gould, in a book on Brittany,
writes : " The menhir is an upright stone, standing
alone; but one cannot be certain that it is not a solitary
stone spared from a row that has been destroyed. In
England, this is nearly always the case. Sometimes



these upright stones have hollows worked in them —
cup marks — that have been objects of much specula-
tion. Councils of the Church in Gaul expressly
forbade the anointmg of obelisks, and to the present
day peasants still daub them with honey, wax, or
oil. . . .

** The alignment is a series of parallel rows of
upright stones, erected in honour of a dead chief,
each household contributinof a stone. . . . On Dart-
moor, where there are over a quarter of a hundred of
these stone-rows, all without exception start from a
tomb. In one instance, where three bodies had been
buried in as many stone boxes in one cairn, three
rows start from the same mound. . . . The custom
was never wholly discontinued. With the advent
of the Britons, >= menhirs continued to be set up,
and were called leeks, '^ some bearing inscriptions, but
many without. Indeed, it was usual for a saint when
he travelled to take his lech with him, ready to be
planted at his head when he died. A great number
of these remain."

I pity the poor saint who may have carried the
Ty'n-y-Seler leeh about with him !

In Brittany there are immense maenhirs. One at
Dol is twenty-eight feet above the surface, and sixteen
feet of it is embedded below. The Men-er-H'roech

^ The Iberian, Ivernian, or Silurian race — the race which
underhes the population of all Western Europe. It came from
Asia, and crossing Europe, reached and spread over Britain and
also Ireland. This is the race which left these maenhirs and
other monuments. Later, the Gauls conquered these people.
Then came the Roman domination.

' Welsh llech^ a stone.


[To face p.i^ic 194.


at Locmariaquer was sixty-four feet high before it was
shattered by lightning.

Mr. Bertram Windle, in " Remains of the Pre-
historic Age in England," writes : " The menhir or
standing-stone is as ancient an institution as it is
world-wide, and, in the shape of obelisks and
monuments, persistent. Such stones . . . are some-
times met with in conjunction with other varieties
of megaliths. Sometimes, as at the Tingle-stone
barrow, the menhir is on the mound ; sometimes as
at Ablington, it is inside the chamber of burial ;
sometimes it is embedded in the substance of the
mound itself. Again, the menhir may be quite
isolated and independent of other ancient remains.
Perhaps this is the most common occurrence."

It is possible, therefore, that theTy'n-y-Seler maenhir
may be the only remaining stone of a row of others,
or it may be an independent standing-stone marking
the burial-place of a great chief of prehistoric days.
I am inclined to think it always stood alone. If it
means little to us to-day, it was an important object to
those who lived long, long before us ; it was placed
there as a memorial of a man looked up to by his
people. ^

^ Mr. Evan John, of Ty'n-y-Seler, recently told me of a large
stone lying on Margam Moors, and of the tradition in the neigh-
bourhood about it, that Samson threw it from near the " Pound"
at Margam, to where it lies, five-sixths of a mile away. I found
it to be a maenhir lying on the ground, partly covered with
earth and over-grown by a thorn-bush. Having regard to its
position it may have had some relation to the maenhir at Ty'n-y-
Seler, from which it stands north-west about one and an eighth
mile, and half a mile outside of Kenfig Borough boundary to


What an interesting district is this! Here we have
a monument of prehistoric times, a highway of Roman
times, and a mediaeval castle all within a small area.

Now, after this long digression, I hope my readers
will not think it amiss if I return to dry manuscripts —
dry to some, maybe, but delightful to me.

the north, in Margam Parish. The stone measures nine feet
in length, six feet in width, and one foot in thickness, but a large
flake of stone near had evidently been split off it, so that it was
formerly much thicker. It probably weighed nearly four tons
originally and must have been an imposing monument when
upright. When the ditch was made near the stone, in the time
of the monks, it was carried partly round it, and I have no doubt
the digging of the ditch caused the fall of the stone.

This maenhir stood in a peculiar position, for at high-water
of spring tides, before the first of the sea walls was constructed,
it would be surrounded by the tidal waters.


I CAN NOT write of Kenfig without mentioning
an important family of landowners, and to
make the account more interesting, I am able to tell
you the names of the wives of some of them.

Thomas Gramus, or Grammus, as the name is
variously spelled, lived in The Hall at Cornell, and he
and his family owned part of the lands near there, and
also in other parts. They, from time to time, parted
with their lands to Margam Abbey, and so it is that
we know of them through the ancient MSS. of the

Gillebert Gramus,^ as we have seen in the chapter
on the town, page 155, gave to Margam Abbey
ten acres of land beginning at Kenfig River and
then along the ancient cemetery. Aliz, his wife,
gave her consent. Gilbert, Abbot of Margam, one
of the witnesses, occurs a.d. 1203-12 13. Ernald,
constable of Kenfig, another, occurs in the time
of Morgan ap Caradoc.

I may say of the first of the family nothing is

^ Gillebert Gramus's charters were confirmed by Pope
Innocent III. in a.d. 1203.



known, beyond the name of his son, Richard, who
appears as a witness in early deeds ; the relation-
ship of Gillebert to Richard is not ascertainable.

Gillebert's son Roger married Agnes, and had
four sons and a daughter : (i) Thomas, heir, occurs
in A.D. 1 245-1 264 — he married Ysota (Yseud,
Ysoud, or Isota) the sister of William Luvel, and
had a son Philip ; (2) Hugh, had a son Thomas ;

(3) Roger, occurs in a.d. 1245 — his wife was Alice.

(4) Maurice, occurs in a.d. i 253-1 261 — he married
Johanna, daughter of Philip ap David of Kenfig ;

(5) Alice, married Roger Palmer. William Gramus
seems to have been the last of the family ; he was
a witness to a deed in a.d. 131 2.

Roger Gramus, senior, by Harley Charter 75, C. 3
(C. DCCIII), leases for ten years from Christmas,
A.D. 1202, to the monks of Margam his part of the
land between Kenfig and Goilache, Afon fach, for
ten marks paid beforehand, with power to the monks
to renew the lease. Pledged in the hands of Osmer :
" Et sciendum quod affidavi in manu Osmeri me hoc
totum servare sine omni dolo et sine omni malo
ingenio." This phrase "affidavi in manu" occurs
frequently in the Margam deeds, and relates to the
practice mentioned by Giraldus Cambrensis' in the
chapter on the Welsh nation, "and so lightly do
they esteem the covenant of faith, held so inviolable
by other nations, that it is usual to sacrifice their faith
for nothing, by holding forth the right hand, not only
in serious and important matters, but even on every

' " Itinerary through Wales," by Giraldus Cambrensis.
A.D. 1188.


trifling occasion, and for the confirmation of almost
every common assertion." Mr. J. H. Round says
in Geoffrey de Mandeville that the custom survives
in some places.

Thomas, chaplain of Kenefeg ; Walter Luvel ;
Thomas the miller, and others, are witnesses to
Roger's deed.

Roger, by Harley Charter 75, C. 5, grants, with
assent of his wife Agnes, and Thomas his son and
Isota his wife, to Hugh his son, for his homage, two
and a half acres of land near that of Maurice Gramus
on the west, and the stream called Goyelake on the
north and south ; rent yearly, three halfpence. Eight
shillings premium to the grantor and five shillings to

Witnesses : Walter Luvel ; W. de Corneli ; ^
Wasmer,2 and others.

The bearing on the ^ s rogeriigramus
seal is a fleur-de-lis. >^ sigil'. thome. gramus.

Hugh Gramus, soon after, parted with his two and
a half acres of land to the Abbot of Margam, as we
find from the next deed.

Harley Charter 75, C. 6 (C. DCCV), is a confirma-
tion by Roger and his son Thomas Gramus, his heir,
to the monks of two and a half acres of arable land
which Hugh Gramus held, and gave to the Abbey
by charter, paying yearly therefor to Roger and

^ Occurs in a.d. 1245.

2 Wasmer, derived from was, gwas^ "a servant," mer=mair
Mary ; the servant of Mary, probably the servant of St. Mary's
Church, Margam.


Thomas 2^d., and to the House of St. John of
Jerusalem id. Witnesses : Walter Luvel ; Richard
the clerk, and others.

T. 289, 25 is a confirmation by Roger, son of Gille
Gramus, of the gift to the Abbey of his free tenement
adjacent to the water of Kenefeg. Witnesses : William
de Lichesfield, William Punchardun, monks ; William
de Bordesl^^, Richard Cnitth, conversi ; Tomas de
Cornell ; Gille Gramus ; Adam Gramus, and others.

The conversi were lay brethren, who, according to
Cistercian custom, worked on the farms or grranofes.

Roger Gramus, by a deed dated a.d. 1203,
T. 289, 27 (C. DCCIV), granted to Margam Abbey
all the land from the Great Stone, directly opposite
Cohilake, Afon fach, on the east, and on the south of
the highway leading towards Castle- Kibur, in fee farm
for half a mark. Ten years' rent paid beforehand.
The witnesses are the same as in the previous deed.

Cohilake is another variant of Goylake. Castle
Kibur is the British encampment on the west end of
Cefn Cribwr ; a farm near it is called Pen Castell.
I believe all earthwork camps which were used later
by the Normans were afterwards known as castles.
I do not know of the Great Stone. Probably it has
been broken up for road mending, as is often the

In another deed, T. 289, 26, Roger confirmed to the
Abbey the land between the high-road from Kenfig to
Castle Kibur and the water of Kenefeg, which his
father gave to the monks, also marl from his marl-pit.
Walter Luvel and Ernald, the constable of Kenefeg,
are among the witnesses.


I have already, in the reference to the highway and
Pont Felin Newydd, or Kenfig bridge, mentioned a
deed by Thomas Gramus, Roger's son and heir.

Harley Charter 75, C. 12 (C. DCCCCLXXXVIII),
is a confirmation by Thomas Gramus, with assent of
Ysota his wife, to his brother Maurice of four and a
half acres of land, two of which lie near the land of
Henry Baret on the east side, two near the land of
Hugh Juvenis on the west side, from the high-road
as far as Goylake, half an acre lies between the land
the monks had by gift of Hugh Gramus (see gift by
Hugh Gramus supra) and the land of Thomas
Gramus towards Goylake, at a yearly rent of 4d. at
Ockeday,^ and for three marks silver and i8d. premium.
Walter Luvel and Roger Gramus are among the

Harley Charter 75, C. 13 T. 289, 50 (C.
DCCCCXCI). In this, Thomas Gramus sells to
the Abbot and Convent of Margam for four shillings
a rent of fivepence in which they were bound, viz. :
fourpence for his brother Maurice's land and a penny
for his fee. Walter Luvel is one of the witnesses.

Harley Charter 75, C. 9 (C. DCCCCXXH), is a
quit claim by Thomas Gramus to Hugh, his brother,
of his right to the land which their father gave to
Roger Palmer, brother-in-law of the above Thomas,

' Dr. E. C. Brewer, in " Dictionary of Phrase and Fable," says :
" Hock-day, or Hock-Tuesday, the day when the EngHsh sur-
prised and slew the Danes, who had annoyed them for 255 years.
This Tuesday was long held as a festival in England, and land-
lords received an annual tribute called Hock-money for allowing
their tenants and serfs to commemorate Hock-day, which was
the second Tuesday after Easter-day."


lying between the land of Adam Alberd and that of
John the priest. For this deed Richard Flandrensis,
(or Fleming), constable of Kenefeg. for love of Hugh,
the grantor's brother, gave him a pair of boots [par
estivalhmi)^ worth i8d., and a sisa- of beer to Ysota,
the grantor's wife. Pledged in the hand of Thomas,
priest of Laniltwit. Richard Flandrensis and Walter
Luvel are among- the witnesses,

Harley Charter 76, C. 8 (C. CXX.). Thomas
again, with Isud's consent, grants to Hugh, son of
Hugh, two acres of arable land on the high-road to
Goilake, eight rods wide, rent 2d., and 2 silver marks
consideration money. Witnesses : William de Cor-
nell, William Cole, 3 Gilbert de Neth, Henry de
Neth, William de Sancto Donato, Adekin Jurdan.

T. 289, 44 (C. DCCCCXXV). This is a grant by
Thomas to the Abbey of three acres of land in the
culture of Deumay, from Goylake stream to the road
leading from Kenefeg to Catteputte, two adjacent to

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Online LibraryThomas GrayThe buried city of Kenfig / by Thomas Gray → online text (page 12 of 22)