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9
Bert Hermans
"St. Brynach Church"
Oil on canvas
60 x 80 cm

This painting was made after a visit that Bert made to the town of Nevern in Wales during his holiday on May 11, 2023. Nevern is located on the Nyfer River north of the Presceli Hills. These hills have been inhabited for thousands of years, as the prehistoric burial chamber Pentre Ifan proves. St Brynach Church is located just a mile south of Nevern.
In the church and cemetery of Nevern you can find stones with so-called Ogham inscriptions and Latin inscriptions. They date from the 5th or 6th century, around the time that the Irish St. Brynach came here and founded the church. The stone with the Ogham inscriptions can be found in the windowsill of the church and is also depicted here in the painting. This stone additionally has a Latin inscription that reads: MAGLOCVN(i) FILI CLVTOR, or (the stone) of Maglocunus, son of Clutorius. The Ogam form of the inscription reads: MAGLICUNAS MAQI CLUTR []. That means: "(The stone) OF MAGLOCUNUS SON OF CLUTORIUS".

Maglocunus, known as Maelgwn Gwynedd in Welsh, was a 6th-century monarch based in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. The name Maglocunus means 'princely dog'. He expanded his influence and became one of Britain's most prominent rulers in the 6th century.
Most information about Maglocunus comes from Gildas' De Excidio Britanniae. Gildas writes that Maglocunus was a remarkably powerful man, both politically and physically: "the king of all kings... made you superior to almost all the kings of Britain, both in kingdom and in the form of your stature" (Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae, 33).
This power was obtained violently: while still a young man, Maglocunus had killed his own uncle and taken control of his kingdom. He then proceeded to depose and slay "many of the tyrants before mentioned" (Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae, 33).
Later books of church records, such as the 12th-century Book of Llandaff, list Maglocunus as a benefactor of the church. His donations are recorded throughout Wales, indicating that his control spread beyond the borders of Gwynedd.

The Ogham is a Celtic alphabet that emerged in Ireland in the fourth century and was used to make inscriptions on standing stones until the ninth century. The characters consist of a straight base line with one to five side lines, straight or diagonally crossing lines on the left or right. The Ogham alphabet is associated with trees and druids and, in addition to writing, is also used for god worship and magic.
It has long been thought that these stones were gravestones, but because no buried body has ever been found near such an ogham stone, it is now assumed that they were more memorial stones or monuments for important people or heroes. The erection of these types of ogham stones continued until the eighth century.
The vast majority of stones are in Ireland, but stones with ogham inscriptions have also been found in Wales, Scotland and England.

In the painting there hangs to the left of the window a tombstone from the 18th century. The text that can be read on it is also special. The last words are: "Envy not my happiness For I am Gone before Prepared be to Follow Me And live for ever more."