A winter journey crossing a border
Community Carolling & Carousing
A Processional Event
linking Sarn & Bettws y Crwyn Parishes
Saturday December 15th 2012
Starting in Sarn Parish Church 09.00 am
A group will walk (weather permitting) to Bettws
Arriving approx. 15.30 pm
The Cantlin Stone
At each point carols will be sung by the ‘Community Carousing Carollers’
Non walkers welcome to participate at each stopping point
a welcome, more carols, seasonal food and drink.
Sarn, and Bettws y Crwyn are two neighbouring parishes. The boundary line between the two is also the boundary between Wales and England.
Sarn is situated at a crossing point between watersheds & surrounding hills. It means, in English, ‘paved causeway’ and consequently is correctly referred to as ‘The Sarn’ by those living away from the site of the old causeway. Until the C19th it was simply that – not a place but a crossing point.
In the C19th the Anglican Church decided to create a parish of Sarn – with Holy Trinity as its centre.
Bettws y Crwyn means in English, ‘Church of the skins’ and is of mediaeval origin. It may well have been specifically related to shepherding – or cattle droving.
Sarn is in a valley, Bettws is on top of hills – but both parishes cover part of the high upland cut with narrow valleys that typify the Middle March of Wales. Their populations are largely scattered on the hill sides (though the Sarn is now being promoted as a
The event in December will move between the two parishes – hopefully on foot. Though the national border produces, increasingly, some considerable differences of emphasis for these neighbouring communities (in education, health, media) there are many social and family links.
The route from Sarn Church passes through ‘The City’, past The Cantlin Stone & The Anchor.
The City is a collection of houses in a very narrow valley. Presumably developed due to the shelter it provided. No-one knows why it is called ‘The City’ – but probably, in an are where houses are usually isolated & scattered was simply a local joke. The house pictured below is what Sat-Nav devices regard as the centre of the City
Presently (Nov 2012) attempts are being made to renovate the building.
After ascending the hills the route passes near the Cantlin Stone
The present position of the stone is within England but at one time it stood on the border. The importance of the stone (which is simply a flat stone with writing – now placed beneath the cross) is in marking the boundary of Bettws parish, due to their having buried a body found nearby – and later then claiming that such an action indicated that their parish covered as far as this point.
Many of the social and family links between Bettws and Sarn have occurred through the positioning, almost midway between the two parish centres, of the Anchor pub which in the 1970s and ’80s was a social centre for people from a very wide area.
© Copyright Jeremy Bolwell