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Deep in the Black Mountains is an ancient oval churchyard. It encloses a sandstone rubble church that has clung to the slope for over 800 years. A sundial by the porch has been telling the time since 1686. Inside, an oxblood roodscreen has survived against the odds.

The screen dominates the interior at Llanelieu. It was carved in the 14th century and painted with ox’s blood. The red is peppered with stencilled white roses. In the centre, a cross is picked out in bare wood- a reminder of the crucifix that was lost during the Reformation.

The screen is supported by six moulded legs. Originally, these would have been enclosed with panelling to create two small side altars. On the eastern face of the screen, facing the altar, is a beam, from which was hung the Lenten veil.

The oak altar rail was introduced in the 17th century in compliance with Archbishop Laud’s injunction which sought to keep dogs from wandering into the sanctuary… Two small 13th-century lancet openings let light in from the north wall.

The walls are a palimpsest of thick medieval plaster, stencilling, freehand decoration, and slate and marble monuments. The walls were once richly and extensively decorated but later covered over. Some paintings have recently been exposed:

on the west wall, in black line, are Adam and Eve and the Tree of Life. Other medieval decoration includes 14th-century stencilled rosettes. Panels of 17th-century text occasionally break through to the surface and a golden rampant lion waits just beyond the south door.

Read more about St Ellyw's church, Llanelieu, Powys:

#wales #welshhistory #medievalart

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