Nevern before the Normans

Dr Rhiannon Comeau In the area around Nevern Castle, the estates of Robert FitzMartin’s knights very likely originate in the pre-Conquest lands of Nevern church. Dr Rhiannon Comeau investigated Bayvil as part of her PhD research into pre-Norman Cemais. Nevern Castle was built on land that, before the Norman arrival, probably belonged to Nevern church. This church, dedicated to St Brynach, was a ‘clas’ church like many other pre-Norman churches in Wales: It was served not by monks but by a group of ‘claswyr’ (sometimes referred to as ‘canons’ or ‘prebends’). These claswyr, from the evidence elsewhere, were probably married and held hereditary roles. They lived on small estates belonging to their church, supported by the work of bondmen (unfree workers). Few records of Nevern church’s pre-Conquest landholdings have survived, but they were probably similar to the ‘atria’ and supporting ‘villae’ recorded for 11th century Llancarfan (Glamorgan) in the Life of St Cadog. The Welsh clas churches (which are sometimes called ‘mother churches’) were institutions whose families produced some of the bishops of St Davids, as well as the writers of the Lives of St David and of St Cadog. The Normans, however, had little respect for them: with their… Continue reading Nevern before the Normans

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