|Within our parish are a number of
churches whose sites date back to Celtic times. The churches
at Llanmaes and Pendoylan are dedicated to St. Cattwg (Cadoc),
and those at Llantrithyd and Llanharry to St. Illtyd.
Llandough was probably the site of a small Celtic monastery
founded by St. Dochau, Llanfrynach is dedicated to St.
Brynach, and Llysworney to St. Tydfil. None of the churches,
however, retain any of their pre-Norman fabric, although
some house 9th and 10th century stone crosses.
With the coming of the Normans, some churches were
re-dedicated to saints favoured by them. Thus the church at
Llanwerydd was re-dedicated to St. Donat and St. Blethian to
John the Baptist. Existing churches were re-built and many
other churches were established, including those dedicated
to the Archangel Michael (Llanmihangel, Colwinston and
Flemingston), and to Our Lady: St. Mary's at Monknash, and
Bonvilston. Marcross was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, Wick
to St. James, and St. Hilary.
The earliest parts of some of these churches date back to
Norman times, and mention of most is found in various
documents from the 11th century on. Holy Cross was not built
to the 13th century when Cowbridge gained its charter.
During that and the following century many of the churches
were extended and embellished.
From relics in the churches we can picture Christian worship
in the Vale during Medieval times. Holy water stoups at the
entrances, great Roods reminding the congregation of
Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, wall paintings illustrating
scenes from Scripture and the lives of the saints, niches
that once contained statues of favoured saints, damaged
piscinas (for purifying the sacred vessels) indicating the
existence of side altars, and squints to enable all to see
at the most holy point of the Mass, the elevation of the
So the small agricultural settlements focussed on their
church with the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, and
the same church saw their journey through life, from
baptism, to Sunday Mass attendance, to marriage, to the
baptism of their children, and finally burial in the grounds
of their church.
The more affluent had altars or chapels endowed where Mass
would be said for the repose of their souls.