Seiriol lived in the 6th century, and, according to legend, regularly used to meet St. Cybi at a central rendezvous on Anglesey. As the story goes, Seiriol traveled with his back to the sun in the morning and returned with his face to the east in the afternoon, and thus became known as Seiriol the Pale, while Cybi became known as Cybi the Tanned.
Seiriol himself was a younger brother of King Cynlas of Rhos and King Einion of Ll?n. His cell adjacent to the well is said to have been rebuilt by his brothers, as they didn’t think his humble residence was good enough. The well lies in a small chamber and the building adjacent to its remains might have once been part of the lower stone walls St. Seiriol’s church in the 6th Century. If so, this would make it the oldest remaining Christian building in Wales.
In addition to these ancient stones are two high crosses that archaeologists believe stood at the entrance to the monastic grounds. If you visit the church today, which itself dates to the 13th century when the monastery became an Augustinian priory, you can just barely see the interlacing decorative patterns and a pictorial scene showing the temptation of St. Anthony, along with a probable hunting scene.
St Seiriol later moved to what is now called Puffin Island, but was known in the past for being the resting place of not only St Seiriol but other saint as well, to the point that it was remarked upon by the chronicler, Gerald of Wales in the 12th century:
‘There is a small island almost adjoining to Anglesey, which is inhabited by hermits, living by manual labour, and serving God. It is remarkable that when, by the influence of human passions, any discord arises among them, all their provisions are devoured and infected by a species of small mice, with which the island abounds; but when the discord ceases, they are no longer molested…This island is called in Welsh, Ynys Lenach, or the ecclesiastical island, because many bodies of saints are deposited there, and no woman is suffered to enter it.’
Next week we’re going to be talking about early abbeys and priories.