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Llangyfelach Church of St David and St Cyfelach

In the community of Llangyfelach.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Swansea.
Preserved county of West Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: SS64639893
Latitude 51.67280° Longitude -3.95903°

Llangyfelach Church of St David and St Cyfelach has been described as a probable Fortified Ecclesiastical site.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


An early ecclesiastical site of some importance, indicated by presence of two C9 slabs and the decorated base of a tall pillar cross, the old church is to the E of the tower. (Coflein)

Medieval tower of former church, the church itself rebuilt on new site lower down churchyard. The church was badly damaged in the early C19 when the belfry collapsed during a storm. In 1869, gravediggers are said to have found the foundation wall of the old church. The tower is probably of early date, from the massive scale and simple design, perhaps C14, but has no visible datable features. Said to originally have a saddle-back roof, removed early C20, one of at least three distinct restorations. The top parapet and a large part of the S face have been replaced perhaps in earlier C20.
Detached church tower, square unbuttressed large tower of thin coursed rubble stone with dressed stone small quoins. Very small plain rectangular 2-light louvred bell-opening to each face and some tiny openings lower down, one each face just above mid height, and one slightly lower down on N, W and S faces. E face has low ashlar pointed arch, unmoulded with raised imposts, presumably to former nave, but no other signs of building survive. S side has rebuilt walling to most of the upper third. W side has no door. N side has inserted possibly C17 door with flat grey sandstone lintel and chamfered ashlar jambs. Plank door with wrought iron strap hinges. The lintel is a reused early Christian stone and had an incised cross on it some 30 in high, already much eroded in C19. Rebuilt parapet has string course below and battlements with flat tops and outer face chamfered. Stone rainwater spouts on N and S sides.
One of only three towers detached from their churches in Wales; the others in Henllan, Clwyd and Bronllys, Powys. (Listed Building Report)

Church tower suggested as defensive by Harrison. The original nave and chancel were destroyed in C19 leaving just the tower (a nearby tithe barn was converted to serve as the church). Part of a group of Gower churches that Harrison suggests where fortified against the welsh but what protection such churches had was likely to be against pirate raids and it is arguable if such protection can be considered as 'defensive' or 'fortification'. It should also be noted it was standard for all churches to use martial symbols like battlements to represent God's dominion on earth and that church towers are structure which have to hold heavy, moving and vibrating bells and which need to be strongly built for this reason, particularly in places, like much of Wales, where mortar is of poor quality.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
Coflein   County HER       Listing    
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated before 1 February 2016