A little overshadowed perhaps, by the forest which has taken its name, Clocaenog is small village in the hills beside the Nant du stream, some 6 km south west of Ruthin. Ordnance Survey maps over the last hundred and fifty years show that the church of St Foddhyd’s originally lay some little distance further up the hill, though time and slow development have brought the church and village closer together.
Pottery shards dating from the Bronze Age have been found in the Clocaenog area along with several of the 547 round barrows in the old Clwyd county. Fascinatingly, one such barrow was found to have been an early inhumation burial containing the remains of a wooden coffin, reused by later peoples for cremation burials.
It is difficult in truth, to separate the village from the forest, since the boundaries between the two are blurred. An example would be the celebrated find of an Ogham stone, now displayed in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, discovered by Edward Lhuyd in 1693 at Bryn Beddau. Perhaps better served by placing it with the information on Clocaenog Forest, it does however show how the Clocaenog area is vital to a developing understanding of our Bronze Age ancestors.
Clocaenog village first enters the written record in 1254, when the village was called ‘Colocaynauc’. A name to conjure with. In 1266 the village was called, ‘Clocaynauc’ and by 1349 it was called ‘Clocaenok’. The name translates to something like, ‘lichen covered rock’.
The dedication of the church is curious, since the Ordnance Survey maps of 1874 – 1953 insist on calling it St Trillo’s. However, in the diocese it is named as St Foddhyd’s, following a tradition set down by Archdeacon Thomas, a leading authority on matters of the diocese of St Asaph. Rather confusingly, St Foddhyd was called known as St Meddvyth the Virgin, and there is some evidence that the church was also known as ‘Sancte Medwide Virginis’.
The church is of some interest, with 16th century furnishings. The five light east window, still displaying traces of its original stained glass is said to be dated from 1538, though the inscription has now been lost. The restoration of 1882 seems to have destroyed an earlier discovered wall painting of unknown age. A font, wonderfully described by Hubbard in, ‘The Buildings of Wales Clwyd’ as, ‘stumpy’ is dated around the 15th century. There is a rood screen with fine foliage and candle flame carvings which are well worth a look, along with the 17th century pulpit and the elaborate wooden chandelier with its beast headed decoration dated 1725. There is also a huge carved out chest which may well be late medieval, as is the roof.
While the forest is generally the draw to the area, the village of Clocaenog is well worth a visit.