Page images
PDF
EPUB

establishing. This Association, which held its Seventh Annual Meeting at Brecon during the present year, has not only brought men of talent together from time to time, for the purpose of discussing subjects of an archaeological character, but has also disposed the inhabitants of the Principality in general, to value and preserve their national antiquities in a way they had never done before.

Ever since the establishment of the Association, the Arch^eologia Cambrensis has been regarded as its special organ. The Editor, who has had the sole management of it for the last two years, has felt the difficulty of reflecting faithfully the sentiments of a society, consisting of men who not only entertained different opinions on archaeological discoveries, but who had also unusually strong prejudices on matters affecting the credit of our national literature.

Nevertheless he has reason to hope that in this respect he has given general satisfaction. It was his endeavour, at any rate, so to do; and while he occasionally felt called upon to vindicate the honour of his country and nation from the calumnies of ignorant writers, he took care not to retaliate by any "abuse of the Saxon."

He regrets exceedingly that his other avocations will not allow him to continue his Editorial connexion with the Archjeologia Cambrensis beyond the present Volume. Whilst, therefore, he resigns his office into the hands of the Committee, he trusts that a successor may be found, possessed of as much real love as is felt by him for his country, and as earnest a desire for the moral and intellectual elevation of his countrymen.

The Publisher begs to tender his thanks to the Rev. H. Hey Knight, for having so liberally contributed towards the illustration of the present volume.

IrrtjJMlngtit Caittbreitsk

NEW SERIES, No.' XIII.^TANUARY, 1853.

ON THE HISTORY OF THE PARISH OF CARNO, MONTGOMERYSHIRE.

(Read at Ludlow.)

A Few miles north-east of Plynlimon, on its Montgomeryshire side, in a valley watered by some of the early tributary streamlets that fall into the Severn at Caersws, is the village of Carno. The church, a plain structure within the village, has been recently rebuilt on the foundation of the former edifice, which was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and belonged to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who are said to have had a house near it, and to have possessed the lordship of Carno. As one branch of their duties was the protection of their fellow-creatures from violence and rapine, it is very probable they might have had a station for the protection of travellers, and for hospitality, in that rude and remote district wherein they owned property, and claimed the seigniory, and which, according to Pennant (vol. iii. p. 194) was long filled with a lawless banditti who infested the passes of the neighbouring mountains, and levied arbitrary exactions alike on the wayfarer and on the peaceable inhabitant. These knights were sometimes called Hospitallers,1 from an hospital built at Jerusalem

1 Tanner's Notitia Monastica; Burns' Ecclesiastical Law, ii. p. 451.

ARCH. CAMB., NEW SERIES, VOL. IV. B

for the use of pilgrims going to the Holy Land; for their first business was to provide for such pilgrims at that hospital, and to protect them from inj uries and insults on the road. They were instituted about the year 1092, and soon after came into England, and had a house built for them in London in 1100. Combining the austere rules of the monk with the warlike activity of the soldier, the renown which the order acquired in Palestine soon attracted the nobility from all parts of Christendom to its standard, and admission to its ranks was sought with avidity by the flower of European chivalry.2 From a poor and lowly beginning they obtained so great wealth and honours that their superior in this country, styled the Prior of St. John's, was the first baron of England,3 and had a seat among the lords in parliament. After they were driven out of the Holy Land by the Moslem powers, they settled chiefly at Rhodes, and were thence called Knights of Rhodes; and, after the loss of Rhodes in the year 1522, and their having the island of Malta bestowed upon them by the emperor Charles the Fifth, they were called Knights of Malta. In England the Hospitallers were suppressed in the reign of Henry the Eighth, for persisting in their allegiance to the Pope after the separation of the English Church from that of Rome, and all their castles, manors, lands, rents, tithes, preceptories, and other titles were transferred to the king and his successors.4 The order, however, continued to maintain its existence in other parts of the world, and is said to have descended through later years to our own days, although its primary and distinctive character has passed away; yet

2 They followed St. Austin's rule, and wore a black habit with a white cross upon it.

3 This precedence was with regard to lay barons only, for he was the last of the spiritual ones.

4 At the time of their dissolution we have the account of their clear yearly revenue:—

Knights Hospitallers' head house in London .£2385 12 8

Twenty-eight of their houses in the country 3026 9 5

—See Tanner's Notitia Monastica; Dugdale's Monasticon; Burns' Ecclesiastical Law, ii. p. 467.

these are now the only representatives of those Crusaders whose exploits in arms struck terror through the Turkish powers in Africa and Asia. The site of their establishment in Carno is left to conjecture; but a proof of the extent of property the knights must once have possessed in the parish is, that Trawscoed and Derllwyn, two of the three townships into which it is divided, are free from great tithes, whilst Llyssin, the other township, remains chargeable. This may easily be accounted for on the supposition that the first named two townships were the property of the brotherhood, and therefore free from the payment of tithes, whilst the other in lay hands would continue chargeable; and the act for the dissolution of monasteries contains a clause that such possessions of those houses as were discharged from tithes should continue so, into whosesoever hands they might pass.

Adjoining the churchyard is an oblong quadrangular mound of earth, measuring 121 yards on the longest side, and within the quadrangle, forming part of its western extreme, was a earn of unusual extent or size, which earn, in its old plural, carnau, seems to have given the name of Carno to the village and parish. Its dimensions may be calculated from the testimony of an old inhabitant, who remembered more than a thousand loads of stone having been raised and removed thence for fencing purposes, and for road making; and he states his belief that as much, or more, still remains buried under the green sward of the field of which it now forms a part, and the present appearance of the ground warrants that opinion.

The quadrangle is called Caer y Noddfa,—the fortress of refuge, or of sanctuary,—a name that may have been connected with the commandery or hospitium of the Hospitallers, as privilege of sanctuary was usually appended to their mansion houses and other places (commonly called St. John's Hold); and the law was so favourable to the preservation of such sanctuaries that Lord Coke says, 3 Inst. 217,—"If a felon had been in prison for a felony, and before attainder or conviction had escaped and taken sanctuary within the privileged precincts, and the gaolers or others had pursued him and brought him back again to prison, upon his arraignment he might have pleaded the same, and should have been restored again to the sanctuary." By the act of Henry the Eighth, before alluded to, all such privileges belonging to such hospitals were abolished. Notwithstanding the legal enactment, however, the name still subsists, and clearly seems to indicate its present appellation to have been derived from the use to which it was applied by the Knights Hospitallers; but whatever use it may have been applied to by those knights, the quadrangle itself seems evidently to point to an earlier, probably a Roman, origin; and this may be presumed, not only from its quadrangular form, but from its position on the low and plain surface of the vale, adjoining the running waters of several small rills, that there contribute and unite to form the main stream of the Carno brook. These are,—Avon Cwm Llwyd from the north; Avon Pwll Llydan from the west; and the Cledan and the Cerniog from the south, the main stream proceeding east to Caersws,—just such a spot as the Roman army preferred for an outpost or a camp, whilst the Britons preferred the brows and heights of hills for such purposes.

There are traces of an ancient trackway or road running through the parish from Caersws, which are still plainly discernible in the farm yard of Sarn, lying parallel to the turnpike road, and carried on towards Sarn Bigog and Sarn Ddu in a direction north of Plynlimon, and south of the common of Talerddig, pointing westward, and toward the sea coast. From this frequent recurrence of the name of Sarn in the same vicinity, which implies an artificially raised road or causeway, together with the evident traces still discernible of the causeway, the inference has been drawn that it was of Roman construction, in connexion with their neighbouring station at Caersws; and it is deserving of remark that the Roman engineer, centuries ago, had the sagacity to discover what the railway projectors of the present day, with

« PreviousContinue »