An article I have written has been published by the online Orthodox Arts Journal under the title The Seventh Ecumenical Council, the Council of Frankfurt and the Practice of Painting. The Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 AD gave authoritative approval to the veneration of icons. The Council of Frankfurt (794 AD) was summoned by Charlemagne as part of his project of distancing the Western Church from the Roman Empire centred on Constantinople. Charlemagne wanted to condemn the practise of venerating icons but was inhibited by the Pope (Hadrian I). I am arguing that although this was all obviously political there was a real difference between the classical culture of Rome and the culture of the peoples gathered round Charlemagne who had never been part of the Empire, most notably the Celts (Irish and Welsh) and Anglo Saxons (in particular the Northumbrians who had been converted to Christianity from Ireland). The main texts arguing for the veneration of icons, by St John of Damascus and St Theodore the Studite, were unknown in the West, but if they had been known, I suggest that the ‘insular’ monks would not have understood them. The argument was based on the idea that the artist’s job was to produce a likeness of something in the natural world. The insular (Celtic/Anglo Saxon) idea was quite different. I characterise it as ‘rhythmic’ and try to give a summary account of it.
The Psalter and martyrology of Ricemarch
V. 1. Text, notes, indices — v. 2. Plates
|In AD 410 the Roman Emperor Honorius sent a message to the people of Britain informing them that they should no longer consider themselves part of the Roman Empire whose armies were now unable to protect them from attack. He advised them to look to their own defences. This message came after a lengthy period of unrest during the late fourth century during which there had been a number of major barbarian attacks on the province of Britain and on other parts of the Roman Empire. During this time there had also been attempts to remove Britain from the Empire the most well remembered been led by Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig) who was eventually defeated and killed in AD 388. In the Mabinogion Maximus is recorded as being the founder of a number of Welsh royal lineages.
After Britain ceased to be part of the Roman Empire in the early fifth century AD the romanised way of life did not immediately collapse but the centralised administration was weakened with the growth of new kingdoms throughout Britain. In Wales these included, among others, the kingdoms of Gwynedd, Powys, Dyfed and Glywysing. Over the next few hundred years the borders of the kingdoms remained fluid as power shifted from one to another and new kingdoms, such as Ceredigion and Brycheiniog, emerged. The new kingdoms were each ruled by a king chosen from the ruling families.
Early Welsh Kingdoms (source: Davies, W. 1982)
The rulers of the Welsh kingdoms resided in a court or llys, a defended settlement which was sometimes placed within an old hillfort as at Dinas Emrys which lies below Snowdon. Dinas Emrys has long been associated with Amhrosius (Emrys) recorded in Welsh folklore as an early ruler descended from Roman parentage. Another hillfort which was re-occupied is Caer Drewyn in Clwyd. Former Roman forts such as Brecon Gaer were also re-occupied. The royal court or llys consisted of a collection of dwellings (usually of wood) which housed the royal family, workers, soldiers, craftsmen and their families. The main building was a hall where the ruler and his followers feasted. The buildings were protected by a stone or earth rampart and wooden palisade.
Plan view of Dinas Powys (source: Alcock, L. 1963)
One of the most thoroughly investigated of these early power centres is Dinas Powys near Cardiff where a possible wooden hall and barn were excavated. They lay within an enclosure (c60 metres by 50 metres) surrounded by rock-cut ditches and protected by banks of clay and rubble. What makes the site exceptional is the quantity of high class metalwork, jewellery, glass and imported pottery and the quantity of cattle bones recovered indicating that the high status and material wealth of the occupants. Pottery found on the site was imported from as far away as Aquitaine (France), north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. This pottery is associated with the trade in wine. Different types and styles can be dated to between the fifth and seventh centuries AD.
We know very little of the buildings or types of settlements where ordinary people lived. This is partly because these did not change much for over 1500 years covering the Iron Age, Roman period and early Middle Ages (up to the Norman Conquest). The other difficulty encountered is that, with the exception of the high class imported pottery, few dateable objects have been found on domestic sites in Wales. It is therefore difficult to know at what date for example, a group of round wooden or stone houses was occupied. During the early Middle Ages the majority of people were farmers living in wooden or stone houses which were circular or rectangular. Sometimes these were set within a stone or wooden enclosure. Other buildings were probably used as barns and byres. At Cefn Graeanog in the Lleyn Peninsula a rectangular, stone-built enclosure contained three circular huts, a garden and a rectangular barn and byre. Excavation produced evidence of ironworking and farming activities during the period between the third and fifth centuries AD.
The other main types of buildings were churches and monasteries. Most references to early churches in Wales suggest that they were built of wood. Some were small buildings made of woven hazel which housed only a hermit others were groups of buildings surrounded by an earthen bank and wooden fence where monks or nuns lived and worked. Later in the period some of the wooden buildings, particularly the churches, were rebuilt in stone. In the language spoken in the period (an early form of Welsh similar to that spoken in Cornwall and northern Britain) the work for enclosure was llan which often forms the first part of the placename denoting an old religious site. Documented sites include Llangorse (near Brecon), Llangollen and Llanelwy (Clwyd). Few physical remains of such religious centres now survive although the early circular enclosures can be traced in a number of places, as at Meifod (Montgomery).
Although earlier churches and monasteries have rarely survived there are a considerable number of early Christian crosses and memorial stones. Many of the memorial stones are marked with a cross together with a memorial to the dead person written in an abbreviated form of latin. One of these, erected as a memorial to Dervacus, at Maen Madoc, Ystradfellte in Brecknock lies next to the old Roman road from Coelbren to Brecon Gaer. Some memorials are written in Ogham a non-alphabetical form of writing based on long and short lines scored across the corner of a stone or piece of wood. This form of writing was devised in Ireland and brought to Wales by Irish settlers.
5/6th Century memorial stone from Trallwng, near Brecon which in Ogham reads “CVNACENNIVI ILVVETO” = THE STONE OF CUNACENNIVI ILVVETO”,
Contact with Ireland had its origins in the prehistoric period. Trade and contact were maintained throughout the Roman period but from the fifth century settlement of Irish people took place in parts of western Wales. This is reflected in placenames particularly in Dyfed. Settlers came also from northern Britain to north Wales. They were reputed to have been led by Cunedda who came from the northern kingdom of Gododdin (in the Edinburgh area). They brought with them the earliest “Welsh” poem the Gododdin which relates a tale of the warriors of Gododdin who fought and died at a major battle against the Saxons near Catterick (Yorkshire) in the late sixth century.
To the east, Wales was bounded by the kingdom of Mercia whose rulers were intermittently at war with the kingdoms of Powys and Brycheiniog. In AD 196 Aethelflaed of Mercia invaded Brycheiniog capturing the queen but no permanent conquest was made. Powys was subject to attacks from Mercia from the seventh century. In the following century the border was demarcated by the building of a great dyke which, although not continuous, ran from the north coast of Clwyd to the south coast near Chepstow. The dyke is named after the king who ordered its construction: Offa of Mercia.
In the early eleventh century AD the history of the kingdoms of Wales was dramatically altered by the Norman Conquest.
Suggested sites to visit:-
Dinas Emrys, Gwynedd (SH 606492).
(Leaflets prepared by the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust are available for some of these sites. Details of other sites in your area can be obtained by contacting the SMR officer.)
DYFED ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST
RHIF YR ADRODDIAD / REPORT NO.2012/7
RHIF Y PROSIECT / PROJECT RECORD NO. 100735
MEDIEVAL AND EARLY POST-MEDIEVAL HOLY WELLS:
A THREAT-RELATED ASSESSMENT 2011
Gan / By
|The End of the School Year 2016-17|
|Dear beloved in the Lord,
On the occasion of the end of the school year 2016-2017, I am writing a few words to congratulate the Teachers, Students, Pupils, Parents, friends and supporters of Education for the efforts they have made this year for the proper and orderly functioning of our Daily and Afternoon Schools of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
As we all perceive, we live in difficult times. Terrorist attacks and other tribulations have been hurting the country which is hosting us, leaving behind broken families, orphaned children and much pain. That is why we have a duty to rekindle our faith in the Triune God and the eternal and insurmountable values of Christianity. Such values are Love, Freedom, Democracy, Peace, reconciliation, friendship, collaboration, love towards our family, and respect and sensitivity towards the weak, the elderly and the destitute of this life.
I believe that in our schools, communities and our families we must emphasize the importance of virtue, friendship, trust, solidarity, respect and love for our neighbours, our friends and our enemies. With our virtuous life and our good example, we support and guide the younger generations and our entire society; we learn to love, appreciate and respect the gifts that Society provides for us and the good Education which is given to us by the State.
I congratulate you all for your efforts in Education and the wonderful achievements that our schools have made during the 2016-2017 school year, and in the future I wish you even greater success. I pray for the progress of the Schools and the improvement and strengthening of Education within the sacred framework of our Christian Orthodox tradition. That is why I remind you all of the great educational value of prayer, regular church attendance and the participation of the family in the mystery of the Divine Eucharist. I pray for you and our Schools and wish all of you a good summer, a happy and peaceful holiday and warm wishes, love and honour in the Lord.
London, July 2017
of Thyateira and Great Britain
Celts, Romans and Miners: The archaeology and history of Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn and the surrounding area