Ffynnon Sulien

The first question that springs to mind is, why St Sulien and not both Sulien and St Mael.  Given the dedication of Corwen parish church to both, how is it that the well that is believed to have provided baptismal waters to the parish church is not also dedicated to both?  The confusion possibly lies in that the name of the well was originally Ffynawn Silian. The late 19th early 20th Century antiquarian Baring Gould argues that while the names Silian and Sulien had become interchangeable by the early 20th century, it is possible that Silian was originally the Welsh equivalent of St Giles.  Certainly, the well was called Ffynawn Silian in 1564 and on Victorian OS maps.

 

In any case, there is no doubt the well is of undoubted antiquity.  As stated, it is believed that the well provided baptismal waters to the parish church in Corwen.  This, in itself speaks volumes for its importance, since this was a trek of a mile or so and entailed a crossing of the River Dee which would have been a considerable undertaking. This gives the whole enterprise a sense of ceremony and ritual, and does rather settle nicely into the argument for an ancient continuation of religious practice in the area for which other evidence does exist. It must be said, however, that ‘An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire’ (1921) argues that this distance is reason to believe that its importance has been over estimated, that it was not actually the well which the community of Corwen relied upon.  Indeed, Edward Lhuyd in ‘Parochialia’ does mention a Ffynon y gloch felen (the well of the yellow bell), named after the discovery of a yellow Celtic bell, in the area of ‘Kraig Corwen’, probably the heights above Corwen.  How this would be more accessible is not clear.  Since springs often come and go, it is impossible to be sure, although the fact that Ffynnon Sulien is still providing a strong supply of water is, I think, testament to is enduring importance, as is its close proximity to Rug Chapel.

 

The well was reputed to cure arthritis and rheumatism, as well as curing sight complaints through bathing the eyes with its water.  The well is a rectangular basin of stone slabs, around 12 feet by 6 feet with a series of steps down into the water.  A narrow stone lined channel then flows away from the well.

Ffynnon Sulien is on private land, but the owners are willing to allow visitors on request.  On passing Rhug Chapel on your left, you will soon see a lay-by.  Park up safely and take the lane which leads down to the well.  The owners cottage is on the left hand side of the lane.

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