Cip ar Gapel Padrig / The dig at Capel Padrig

Traeth Mawr 2
Gwaith manwl yr archaeolegwyr. / The careful work of the archaeologists.

Ers tair blynedd, mae archaeolegwyr wedi bod yn cloddio ar lan Traeth Mawr ger Tyddewi. Capel bychan sy’n dal eu sylw – Capel Padrig – wedi’i gysegru i Padrig Sant, cenhadwr mawr y Gwyddelod. Yn ôl y traddodiad, dyma’r lle y gadawodd Padrig Gymru i hwylio draw i’r Iwerddon.

Am flynyddoedd nid oedd dim o’r capel i’w weld gan fod y cwbl wedi diflannu o dan y tywod. Ond, daeth stormydd i daro Traeth Mawr dair blynedd yn ôl gan agor beddau’r hen fynwent oddi amgylch i’r adeilad. Felly, rhaid oedd cloddio yno i weld beth oedd yn y lle, cyn bod y môr yn chwalu’r tywod yn llwyr.

Darganfuwyd beddau menywod, babanod a phlant dwyflwydd neu dair oed oddi amgylch i’r capel. Beddau cist gerrig cyffredin oedd y rhain, gyda thraed y corff yn wynebu’r Dwyrain. Mewn un man, rhoddodd rhywun gerrig gwynion yn batrwm tlws ar glawr carreg bedd bychan. Dyna fu gofal a dagrau teulu am eu plentyn coll. Ar fedd un plentyn bach arall, crafwyd arwydd y groes ar y clawr carreg. Dyma’r groes gynharaf ar unrhyw fedd Cristnogol yng Nghymru neu Brydain.

Er bod y capel wedi’i leoli ar ben eithaf Penrhyn Dewi, nid pobl glan môr oedd y rhain i gyd. Roedd nifer wedi’u magu ym mherfedd gwlad, ac yn dod o Loegr, Ffrainc, Sbaen, arfordiroedd môr y Canoldir, Iwerddon a Norwy. Roedden nhw wedi talu’n ddrud er mwyn dod mewn llongau bregus at y man cysegredig hwn i ffarwelio â’u hanwyliaid. Masnachwyr, ffoaduriaid, arweinwyr oedden nhw, mewn byd anodd a heriol.

Yn y cyfnod hwn, yn nwyrain Lloegr roedd yr Eingl-Sacsoniaid, meistri newydd y wlad, yn claddu eu cyfoethogion gyda phob math ar drysorau ar gyfer eu taith i’r byd arall. Dyma gyfnod beddau gwych fel Sutton Hoo yn llawn aur a gemwaith, arfau, anifeiliaid, a cherbydau. Mae pawb yn gwybod ac yn rhyfeddu at eu stori, gan weld geni Lloegr yn eu diwylliant ysblennydd a’u hiaith.

Ond mae yna stori arall yng Nghapel Padrig, stori am bobl a ddewisodd greu beddau syml plaen gan gredu mai Duw ei hun fyddai eu cyfoeth yn y byd y tu hwnt i’r bedd. Dewisodd y rhain blannu eu pobl yn genedl ar draeth agored a hardd yn Sir Benfro.

Yn nhymor Difiau Dyrchafael, y Sulgwyn a Sul y Drindod, dyma’r stori sy’n dod imi o’r newydd yn ei llawnder wrth wylio’r cloddio ar lan y lli.

Wiliam.

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Traeth Mawr 1
Y gloddfa. / The dig.

For the past three years, archaeologists have been digging at Traeth Mawr near St David’s. There, they have been investigating a small chapel – Capel Padrig – consecrated to Saint Patrick, the great missionary to Ireland. It is said that this is where Patrick left Wales to sail to the Emerald Isle.

Normally, nothing of the chapel can be seen, since it is all hidden beneath the sand. But, three years ago, the huge storms that hit Traeth Mawr uncovered some of the graves in the old cemetery that surrounds the building. Therefore, the digging had to begin quickly to learn about the place before the sea could wash away any more of the surrounding sand.

The archaeologists have discovered the graves of women, babies, and children of two or three years old around the chapel. These were common stone cist graves, with the bodies all facing east. In one spot, someone had placed tiny white stones in a beautiful pattern to adorn the cover of one small grave. Thus was the care, in their sorrows, of a family grieving for their lost child, long ago. On another child’s grave the symbol of the cross had been carved into the stone cover. This is the earliest cross found on any Christian grave in Wales or Britain.

Whilst the church sits at the very tip of the St David’s peninsula, the people buried here weren’t all seaside folk. Many had been brought up in the countryside, far from the waves, and had come from England, France, Spain, the coasts of the Mediterranean, Ireland and Norway. They had paid a handsome price to sail in their fragile boats on the perilous journey to this consecrated place to say a last goodbye to their loved ones. They were merchants, refugees, and leaders, all living in a harsh and challenging world.

During this period, in Eastern England, the Anglo-Saxons, the new rulers of that part of the world, buried their wealthy dead with all kinds of treasures to accompany them to the other world. This is the era of fantastic graves like Sutton Hoo, full of gold, gems, weapons, animals, and vehicles. Everyone knows and wonders at their tale, seeing the birth of England in their magnificent culture and their language.

But another story is told at Capel Padrig, a story about a people who chose to dig simple, plain graves, believing that the wealth of the next world would be the company of God himself. These people chose to bury their dead as a nation on an open beach in Pembrokeshire’s golden sands.

In the season of Ascension Thursday, the Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday, the story of these people renews itself to me in its fullness as I watch the archaeologists at their work.

Wiliam.

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