Originally named Llansantffraid Glyn Dyfrdwy, it is thought that the name of this beautiful village on the north bank of the Dee, dominated by the 17th century Pont Carrog, was changed to make it easier to pronounce for the visitors arriving at a newly opened Carog Station. However, while this is interesting enough, it should be noted that while the station opened on 1st May 1865, Ordnance Survey maps were still using the village’s original name in 1885, though it had changed to ‘Carrog’ by 1901. The new name was taken from the river that flows through the village and into the Dee (SJ112433), named as ‘Carrau’ in the mid 13th century, and ‘Carrok’ in 1292-3. The name of the river translates as ‘swift flowing stream’ or perhaps, ‘torrent’, which describes it well enough.
Carrog is Owain Glyndwr country, and it was said the village contained a building used as a prison by the great Welsh nationalist. Presumably, this would have been used to retain such persons worth ransoming. Certainly, it was known locally as ‘Owain Glyndwr’s Prison House,’ which does rather adequately describe it, but another story claims Glyndwr himself was kept there, although it is difficult to credit the truth of that.
There is some written record of a ‘Ecclesia de Lansanfreyt’ in 1254, and a settlement named as ‘Lansanfreyt in 1292-3. Certainly, the medieval church in Llansantffraid was a poor affair, valued at £2 in 1291. This church, St Bridget’s, was swept away by the Dee in the early 17th century and no one is clear as to where is originally stood. This is disappointing, since it makes it somewhat difficult to piece together the original settlement. Some fairly sizeable oak beams were discovered by workmen in 1893, and it is thought that these were probably from the original church and washed downstream. The church was rebuilt elsewhere in 1611, again dedicated to St Bridget. This new church was, of course, renovated in the Victorian Age, but some of the 17th century build remains. It does have a 12th century font, which it is assumed is from the original church.
Edward Lhuyd records a small settlement at the end of the 17th century, some 6 houses, which had increased to around a dozen or so by the middle of the 19th century. The arrival of the Ruabon to Barmouth railway brought greater settlement at the end of the 19th century. Lhuyd also mentions a holy well, Ffynnon Sanfraid, and places it a quarter of a mile above the church. It has been lost however, and there is no place name indication as to its whereabouts.
For some years, Carrog was the last stop on the Llangollen Steam Railway. A return ticket bought, a fine couple of hours could be spent wandering around the village, lunching well in the local pub before catching the train back to Llangollen. All in all, a really rather fabulous way to spend a day.