In the spring of 2022 I had the opportunity of visited Cilgerran (Pembrokeshire) only to find the castle closed due to wind damage but the churchyard accessible. I took the opportunity to photograph one of the early inscribed stones of early medieval south-west Wales in the churchyard of St Lawwdog’s. This post briefly introduces the key points and context for this early medieval stone, the only evidence of early medieval archaeology from the site, drawing on the research of Professor Nancy Edwards.

There are c. 150 of these monuments known from Wales and the Borders. Of these, 64 are from the south-west, of which there are 35 in Pembrokeshire (Edwards 2013: 30).

The Cilgerran stone is one of 17 from the south-west, 12 from Pembrokeshire, with both roman and ogam scripts, 26% of the total (66% have Roman inscriptions only, 8% have only ogam) suggesting many were raised to communicate to a mixed audience familiar with Latin and Old Irish.

The vast majority are commemorating father-son (x son of y) relationships revealing the importance of patrilineal kinship in mortuary commemoration (Edwards 2013: 42).

Most are found at or near early church sites and their funerary function is explicit in those with the ‘here lies’ formula on the Latin text (Edwards 2013:33). Evidently, burial sites based on kinship, later to become churches, chapels and monasteries, dotted the landscape in the 5th and 6th centuries. The inscriptions may have served to promote and legitimise claims to land and authority.

Irish personal names are not confined to the ogam inscriptions, but are found on stones inscribed in Latin in the roman script too (Edwards 2013: 31). Furthermore, both Latin and ogam texts appear to be introductions in the 5th century from Gaul and north Africa and Ireland respectively. South-west Wales in the 5th and 6th centuries was clearly well-connected to the Late Antique Christian world along the Atlantic seaboard as attested by a range of other material culture (including imported ceramics) and sundry written sources. Furthermore, the patronym Demeti recorded on the St Dogwells 1 stone might hint at a tribal affiliation for the region (Edwards 2013: 43). Combined with the use of the term Protictoris on the Castell Dwyran 1 stone, a term derived from imperial Roman terminology, we might be best regarding the south-west Cymric Demetae ‘tribe’ as a mixed population of Brythonic and Latin speaking Britons and Irish immigrants.

Having said that, we should be cautious in taking the formula and memorial styles as direct and conclusive evidence of a fully Christianised population nor of the specific religious or ethnic affiliations of those commemorated.

The fantastic resource of Professor Nancy Edwards (2013: 311-313) provides a detailed record of the Cilgerran early medieval inscribed stone (P12) which she dates to the second half of the second century based on the epigraphy and language on the stone.

Situated on the south side of the churchyard, the upright stone is 146cm tall. Its roman-letter inscription was first set out by Edward Lhuyd in 1698/99 and it was subsequently excavated in 1855 to uncover both inscriptions. Today, the lower half of the monument is buried so that the roman and ogam inscriptions are partially obscured. Appended are later inscriptions, presumably of post-medieval date (VD top left, VU top right).

The roman inscription is in Latin and runs in two vertical lines downwards:



Edwards translates this as ‘Treneguss son of Macus-Treni, here he lies’.

The ogam inscription runs down the edge of the same face:


Edwards translates this to read ‘of Trenagus[.] son of Macus-Treni’

So, there is no certain inscribed cross but the inscribed letters in roman and ogam are near-identical and record Latin and Old Irish versions of the same typical patrilineal formula of ‘X son of Y’. It records two Old Irish names: Treneguss/Trenagus son of Macus-Treni.

To this formal description of the stone, I would further note how the 19th-century graves are arranged and a series of slabs lead from the north-south path east of the church to allow access to the monument. There is also a small sign pointing the way for visitors (see my TikTok video below).

Finally, I cannot but notice the striking orange and white lichens which are populating this c. 1500-year-old inscribed pillar, setting it apart in text, form, materiality and colouration from the surrounding 19th-century memorial successors.

Here are my TikToks:


The Latin and ogham inscribed early medieval stone in Cilgerran churchyard #ogham #archaeology #earlymedieval #Wales #Cilgerran #medievaltiktok

♬ If I Had a Heart – Fever Ray

Reply to @troiwasright The Roman and ogam inscribed stone from St Llawddog’s, Cilgerran #earlymedieval #ogam #memorials

♬ Janacek Overgrown Paths Torn Up – SoundPhenomenon

Edwards, N. 2013. A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales. Volume II. South-West Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.