The Second Half of the Twentieth Century saw an increased interest in Pilgrimages. In North Wales ever since the 7th Century Pilgrims have visited four sites – Bardsey Island, Clynnog Fawr, Gwytherin and Holywell. The last three having associations with two Welsh Saints Beuno and Winefride. In 2011 a small group got together with idea of Creating Pilgrim Route for North Wales.
Again since Medieval Times Bardsey Island has been a place of Pilgrimage. It is known as the Island of 20,000 Saints. Traditionally the Pilgrims converged on Clynnog Fawr before setting off for Bardsey.
The North Wales Pilgrims Way links many of the places associated with these two Saints to Clynnog Fawr. It then proceeds to Bardsey.
During the 7th Century St Beuno ministered across North Wales. During this period Springs were considered to have healing properties. St Beuno either created or had named after him several Wells across North Wales.
Legend has it that St Winefride was beheaded when she refused to accept the charms of Welsh Prince Caradoc. This incident took place at St Beuno’s Well in Holywell. St Winefride’s head rolled down the hill. Where it stopped a well sprung up. This is now St Winefride’s Well. She was restored to life by her uncle St Beuno.
St Winefride then moved to Gwytherin where her aunt was Abbess at the Abbey. There she remained until her death in 660 AD. St Beuno had by this time set up his Church at Clynnog Fawr. This too is near a Well.
Following her death both Holywell and Gwytherin became places of Pilgrimage. One of these Pilgrims was a monk from Shrewsbury who was cured of an illness at the well. This resulted in her remains being taken to Shrewsbury Abbey. On the way they stopped at Woolston in Shropshire. Here again a well sprang up at the spot. This too is reputed to have healing properties.
After converging at Clynnog Fawr the Pilgrims would proceed to Bardsey Island. Three Pilgrimages to Bardsey being considered equivalent to one to Rome. Many perished in the waters between the mainland and the island.
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The Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Williams of Oystermouth. Former Archbishop of Canterbury.
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