The Thief of Llandyfrydog on Anglesey

by Ros Davies

This is an ancient tale about a curiously shaped standing stone in a field at a place called Clorach, which is to be found, roughly, five to six miles from Brynteg along the Llannerchymedd road on Anglesey.

Clorach is situated on the right hand side of a t-junction that branches from this road towards the village of Llandyfrydog. The standing stone, known in Welsh as Carreg y Lleidr, (the thief stone), is immediately opposite Clorach in a field on the left of the junction.

This stone seems to be that of a crouching or running man with quite a discernible face. It has stood there for several centuries and has a legend attached to it.

It dates back to the days, long before printing was invented, when hand-written books were rare and precious items.

Most of the population at the time were illiterate, so it was the monks in monasteries and churches that took on the onerous task of recording the contents of the Holy Bible and the Book of Common Prayer on to manuscripts in the most exquisite hand written script.

They made pens from sharpened goose feathers and concocted their own range of coloured inks. Each capital letter at the start of each sentence was enlarged, illustrated and coloured in beautiful detail.

No wonder, then, that the completion of each manuscript was a long and painstaking business. It was taken for granted, therefore, that such works of art, for that is what these books were, had to be kept in a safe and secure place.

Every church and monastery had their own copies, and because of their value had to be chained to the church altar for safety. They were, of course, written in Latin, the language of the church.

English and Welsh versions came much, much later.
There were such previous copies in Llandyfrydog Church and the ordinary people were allowed to view them.

In fact, one man, by the name of Wil Llaw Flewog. (Wil of the Hairy Hand), used to call at the church quite regularly. His reasons for doing this may have been religious ones, but taking into consideration his nickname of "Hairy Hand", there may have been other reasons, too.

Eventually, he did live up to his reputation, because, on his last visit, he was overcome by a sudden brainstorm and decided to steal the valuable manuscripts.

He broke the chains securing them, pulled the red cloth off the altar and wrapped them up in it. As an afterthought, he added the silver chalice and other silver communion table items.

Having made a neat parcel of the whole lot, he slung it over his shoulders and made off across the fields towards Clorach.

He had nearly reached the place when his flight was brought to a sudden end by a frightening sight. The figure of a huge, hooded monk came striding towards him, appearing as tall as an oak tree. The tread of his sandaled feet made the earth shake and tremble beneath him.

"So - who are you?" quavered a terrified Wil.
The ghoul raised his arm to point an accusing finger at him, and poor Wil was, immediately, turned into stone. There he stands, to this day, in a crouching stance, pack on his back, and his mouth half open in question.

Local legend maintains that when Llandyfrydog Church clock strikes seven each evening, the stone man comes to life and runs around the field three times before returning to his original stance.

Whether anyone has ever witnessed this remarkable event is debatable. The question also arises - if Wil's ears are stony ones, how does he hear the church clock striking seven?

Comments for The Thief of Llandyfrydog on Anglesey

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May 14, 2018
by: Geoff

Did the ghoul return the manuscripts to the church, or were they lost , or perhaps turned into stone as well?

Apr 04, 2017
by: Soo cross

I loved reading this and appreciated the link to the story on images of Anglesey.
I will make a point of searching it out when i return to Anglesey a place of true beauty.

Mar 18, 2015
Small correction
by: Anonymous

Llandyfrydog church has no clock, the legend actually goes that the stone runs around the field 3 times each Christmas Eve, not 7 o'clock each evening.

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