Wednesday, January 5, 2011


After leaving Llanthony, Archbishop Baldwin and Prior Gerald made their way, along with their recruits to the next port of call. This was the highly popular pilgrimage site and healing well at Patrishow. Here St Issui the Martyr had met his end tending to a homeless stranger. You can search this blog to find the rest of the story. The bridge over the stream still is said to  contain a small cross incised by the visitors of 1188

 St Issui (Welsh for Esau) off the family of Brychan, rapidly gained a growing entourage of pilgrims visiting the Martyr's grave. By Norman times, a stone building had been erected, and in addition the martyr's hovel transformed into a room adjoining, and other buildings. The Bishop of Hereford had declared Issui a saint, so it became popular. Here , under the powerful lantern cross Baldwin preached the sermon.
Beautiful Mediaeval Rood Screen still there
  Asking the saint for his intercession in order for the local people to find the bravery to come forward, incense wafting around the Archbishop, people began to come forward, embracing the Cross held by Gerald. An indulgence was attached to the pilgrimage. All those who were without sin, had attended confession and Mass on that day were entitled to a full uindulgence of all their mortal sins if they went on the Pilgrimage. In addition, perhaps, villeins, who would be only to happy to take the chance of a new life away from the drudgery they endured working on the farm.

Pilgrims in the Church at Patrishow
Gerald and Baldwin preached at the foot of this cross


Preaching Cross near Priory, Abergavenny

We are told the meeting was held at the castle, but the Square was not far away and probably orginally held the old Preaching cross before its destruction by the Protestant authorities.

USK/ Wsg

From Abergavenny, Archbishop Baldwin and his retinue passed by on his way to Newport by way of Usk and Caerleon.’ At the castle at Usk , a multitude of people , influenced by the archbishop ‘s sermons and by the good and worth Bishop of Llandaff were signed with the cross. It is remarkable’ Gerald continues that ‘many of the most notorious murderers, thieves and robbers of the neighbourhood were here converted, to the astonishment of the spectators!’.

Archbishop Baldwin at Caerleon

 At Caerleon, we may have expected the Crusade preachers would have met with a tremendous reception. Gerald however, seems to have forgotten their mission in his eagerness to describe the ancient city.His comments can be seen in Chapter One. ‘Caerleon Means The City Of Legions, Caer, In The British Language, Signifying A City Or Camp, For There The Roman Legions, Sent Into This Island, Were Accustomed To Winter, And From This Circumstance It was styled The City Of Legions

This city was of undoubted antiquity, and handsomely built of masonry, with courses of bricks, by the Romans.

Many vestiges of its former splendour may yet be seen; immense palaces, formerly ornamented with gilded roofs, in imitation of Roman magnificence, inasmuch as they were first raised by the Roman princes, and embellished with splendid buildings; a tower of prodigious size, remarkable hot baths, relics of temples, and theatres, all inclosed within fine walls, parts of which remain standing. You will find on all sides, both within and without the circuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, aqueducts, underground passages; and what I think worthy of notice, stoves contrived with wonderful art, to transmit the heat insensibly through narrow tubes passing up the side walls.

Julius and Aaron, after suffering martyrdom, were buried in this city, and had each a church dedicated to him. After Albanus and Amphibalus, they were esteemed the chief protomartyrs of Britannia Major. In ancient times there were three fine churches in this city: one dedicated to Julius the martyr, graced with a choir of nuns; another to Aaron, his associate, and ennobled with an order of canons; and the third distinguished as the metropolitan of Wales. Amphibalus, the instructor of Albanus in the true faith, was born in this place. This city is well situated on the River Usk, navigable to the sea, and adorned with woods and meadows.

The Roman ambassadors here received their audience at the court of the great king Arthur; and here also, the archbishop Dubricius (Dyfrig) ceded his honours to David of Menevia, the metropolitan see being translated from this place to Menevia, according to the prophecy of Merlin Ambrosius.

"Menevia pallio urbis Legionum induetur." "Menevia shall be invested with the pall of the city of Legions."

Not far hence is a rocky eminence, impending over the Severn, called by the English Gouldcliffe or golden rock, because from the reflections of the sun's rays it assumes a bright golden colour:

"Nec mihi de facili fieri persuasio posset, Quod frustra tantum dederit natura nito rem Saxis, quodque suo fuerit flos hic sine fructu."

NOVUS BURGO-(NEWPORT) (Newboth/Casnewydd)

Leaving Caerleon, the party passed on to Newport where they spent the night. The enthusiasm for the Crusade was aroused by their indignation at the peril of the Church in the Holy Land. The archbishop arrived in Newport followed by all the recruits from Usk and Caerleon, many of whom were known personally to the Newport people. So the crowd were very excited. At the ale houses, the castle entrance of the Motte and Bailey Castle and anywhere where people could gather together interested men discussed the topic of the day. Among those converts, whose enthusiasm for the cause had brought them into town, a crowd of anxious listeners assembled, eager to obtain any information which they could give. Silently they listened to the accounts given by the archbishop of the witnesses to the sack of Jerusalem and the Archbishop’s dignified bearing and authority.

The following morning there was a scene of extraordinary commotion at an early hour. People from the outlying districts made their way into town, and an immense crowd gathered around the castle ,long before the Archbishop was expected to address the assembly. This is not the present castle.

At last the procession came forth . The Archbishop was attended by William de Salso Marisco , Bishop of Llandaff, Alexander, Archdeacon of Bangor, the learned Gerald and many of the clergy of the neighbourhood. The Chief Normans of the district held places of importance, side by side with many of the native nobility. Behind the archbishop the soldiers of the party were drawn up.

Gerald does not tell us, whether the archbishop preached to the assembly from the castle green, from the churchyard or from the cross, the remains of which can be seen built into the wall at the corner of Havelock Street and Stow Hill. However the exact spot where the sermon was preached is not important .The eloquence of the archbishops preaching roused a great enthusiasm in the listeners and many Newport men enrolled in the Crusades to make the holy places accessible to pilgrims again.
The party then passed out of Gwent to Cardiff, where they spent the night at the Castle before continuing on their journey.

Gerald’s View of the Quality of the Welsh men as fighters and bowmen.
Gerald gives a full account of the Welsh and their habits. They were, he said, light and active, hardy rather than strong and entirely bred up in the use of arms.
They lived on the herbs and the product of their hunting and paid no attention to commerce, shipping or manufactures. Their love of hunting was so great that in times of peace, the young men went out early and did not return until late. Going into the deep forests of Wentwood for example, they learned to endure fatigue and acquired the act of fighting by accustoming themselves to the use of weapons.

Their chief activity was the defence of their country and their liberty, for which they fought, underwent hardships and willingly sacrificed their lives. When the trumpet sounded the alarm, or the warning beacon burst into flames, the husbandman rushed eagerly from his plough as the courtier from the court. Though unarmed they dared to attack an armed foe; through on foot, they defied cavalry and by their activity and courage generally proved victorious.

The men of Gwent were more accustomed to war, more famous for valour, and more expert in archery than those of any other parts of Wales. Their bows were not made of horn or yew, but fashioned from elm , unpolished and rude, but stout’ Giraldus Cambrensis/Gerald the Welshman 1188.

1. Many thanks to the Library Museum and Art Gallery, Newport for getting out the head of the original preaching cross . Gerald and Baldwin would have preached beneath this very cross.

2. Newport have included a new Replica of the original cross for the High Street.

3. The base of the Original Cross is in St Woolos (Gwynlliw's) Churchyard, and its original stite was half way up Stow Hill.

4. The Chapel that Gwynlliw built or Our Lady is still part of the St Woolos(now) Anglican Cathedral.


Richard Collins said...

Thank you. I found this fascinating and will visit Newport city centre to see the plaque for myself when I next go down the M4.

Mary in Monmouth said...

Thank you Richard!
So much of Newport's history has been obscured, but the Cathedral also contains the remains of a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre!