St Michael’s Church at Ynys, Llanfihangel y Traethau serves the communities of Talsarnau & Ynys. Worship takes place every Sunday.
St Michael’s Church is open during daylight hours for visiting. There is a small signpost on the A496 in Ynys marked as “Eglwys Llanfihangel y Traethau Church”
LLANFIHANGEL-Y-TRAETHAU means “St Michael’s on the Shores”. A chain of these ancient dedicated ‘St Michael’s Mounts’ can be traced all along the shores of the Celtic world from Brittany to Scotland (there is another on the other side of the estuary, at Treflys, above Morfa Bychan). At the time that this church was built, it was, like the others, a rocky tidal island. The name of the village – Ynys – means just that: island. The worshippers assembled by boat or coracle, or on foot or on horseback across the sands. At that time, the parish covered all the neighbouring coastline from the mouth of the Glaslyn to the borders of Llandanwg, south of Harlech. Only in the late Middle Ages did the sea recede from the land between Ynys and Harlech, and not until 1805 was the tide shut out altogether by the sea-wall from Ty Gwyn in Ynys to the ‘mainland’ near Glan-y-Wern. It was a sea-farers church in the last century, as the graves of sailors and sea-captains show, and wooden ships which sailed the Atlantic were built on the beaches near here, at Aber-la (now Portmeirion), Carreg-y-ro and – most important – Ty Gwyn Gamlas, Ynys, which was the port for supplying Harlech Castle.
This Church is more ancient than it looks. A few yards from the porch you will find among the other gravestones one unique memorial, a monument surviving from the days before the Normans conquered Wales. It is a square, narrow, weather-worn monolithic pillar with a 12th Century inscription in its four faces. It reads (with the contractions expanded):
HIC EST SEPULCHRUM WLEDR MATRIS (H)ODELEV
QUI PRIMUM AEDIFICAVIT HANC ECCLESIAM IN
HERE IS THE GRAVE OF WLEDR MOTHER OF HOEDLIW
WHO FIRST BUILT THIS CHURCH IN THE TIME OF
KING OWAIN GWYNEDD
Owain reigned over Gwynedd A.D. 1137-1170. These walls are a century and a half older than Harlech Castle’s Norman masonry.
(inscription transcribed and read by W.J. Hemp, F.S.A.)
For more information please follow the links below:
St Michael Church Information: Cadw
St Michael Church Information: Coflein (RCAHMW)
Inscribed stone pillar at St Michael’s Church: Cadw/Historic Wales
Inscribed stone pillar at St Michael’s Church: Coflein (RCAHMW)