Llanddewi Brefi has a remote feel to it, but also one of shelter with its stone houses huddling against the backdrop of imposing and sparse hills. The perhaps unlikely site of a huge drugs raid in the 1977 in which millions of pounds worth of LSD was seized by police (the website for the BBC has reports on this for those interested), the village is nonetheless an extremely quiet and placid place with its focal point being the church in its lovely graveyard above the waters of Afon Brefi.
St David’s Church
Llanddewi-Brefi has a long history as a site of religious significance. St. David attended a synod here in 519, perhaps in order to debate the Palagian heresy (the claim that people can have an influence on their own salvation by their actions and conduct). The town is probably best known for the miracle at this synod in which – story has it – Saint David was lifted above an audience who were struggling to hear his speech by a sudden raise in the ground under his feet, which produced a small hill at what is now the site of St. David’s Church.
An inscription in one of the church stones, dating from the 7th century, provides one of the earliest mentions of St.David. Set into the floor of the church are five other stones with early Christian inscriptions, dating from between the 6th and 9th centuries.
The earliest date of a church at Llanddewi-Brefi is unknown, although one was certainly present by the 12 th century. The earlier building had fallen into disrepair by the 19 th century and a new chancel was constructed in 1868, followed by a completely rebuilt nave in 1874. The stone with the inscription concerning Saint David is now built into the North West corner of the nave, but unfortunately it was broken up during rebuilding work and the entire inscription (deciphered in 1699 as: “Here lies Idnert, son of Jacob, who was killed because of the spoiling of St. David…”) is no longer visible.
In the hills around Llanddewi-Brefi (as around Pontrhydfendigaid) lead mining was carried out from as early the 14 th century and provided the backbone of the economy for many years.
1) There is a 4km (2 ½ mile) walk that leaves from the church and forms a loop, rising into the hills above Llanddewi-Brefi, taking approximately 1 ½ hours. The walk extends south from the village starting at the church. The path passes disused stone quarries along the way and allows for excellent views of the church in Llanddewi-Brefi and also of Cors Caron (see previous section). Use of a map is recommended.
The walk is detailed in: Pathfinder Guide: Ceredigion Walks (Jarrold Publishing, 2003)
2) To Bremia Roman fortification (site of). A large loop to the west of the village passes through farm yards before reaching the Teifi and a crossing place to a small loop on the opposite side. The bridleway on the opposite side circles the site of a Roman fort and bath, although little of these is now visible. This extra loop can be added before returning over the bridge and across fields and lanes to the village. The route gives good views of the Teifi valley and the stark hills that lie behind Llanddewi Brefi.
Sign posting is not always good and a map is recommended (see above). Path is impassable in times of flood. Allow 2 ½ hours.
OS Maps: Landranger 146 (Lampeter and Llandovery), Pathfinder 990 (Tregaron and Llanddewi-Brefi)
Llanddewi Brefi grid ref.: SN 664554
Getting there: by car, follow the signs off the A485 between Lampeter and Tregaron.
Bus:The 585 service (Lampeter to Aberystwyth) goes via Llanddewi Brefi. Access a timetable at: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=483
Parking: Sign-posted car park (in front the church)
Facilities: Pub, shop, toilets (seasonal)
Sian Rees, A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales (London: HMSO, 1992)