Llandrillo is set, by any estimation in an astonishing ancient landscape. Sited on level ground by the Afon Ceidog, some 8km south of Corwen in the Upper Dee valley, evidence here exists of a continuation of human settlement that stretches thousands of years.
Between a Neolithic chambered tomb to the west, and Bronze and Iron Age activity to the east in the Berwyn Mountains, Llandrillo sits serene and quite beautiful in the valley. The remains of a medieval settlement are visible, with long huts etched out in low stone in the moorland above the village, as well as the remains of medieval field systems to the north east. Within the village itself, the churchyard, with its curvilinear outline would seem to confirm an early medieval foundation of settlement on the site. A lost holy well, Ffynnon St Trillo, as well as the dedication of the church to this 6th century saint, originally from Brittany, goes some way to confirm this.
Named ‘Lantruello’ in the Norwich Taxation of 1254, it was called, ‘Llandrillo in Idernion’ by 1691. The churchyard is a source of real interest. It is possible that the sundial plinth on the south side of the church might actually have been a much older churchyard cross, not unlike the one that caused such consternation at the Church of St Garmon at Llanarmon-yn-Ial. While the church seems to have been largely replaced between 1875 – 1877, a few items of interest lie within. An apparently medieval inscribed stone is visible and a 15th century font, but little else remains of a date before the 18th and 19th centuries. A local tradition asserts that St Trillo founded the church here sometime in his wanderings in the area during the last years of the 6th century.
By 1334, Llandrillo enjoyed a weekly market and two annual fairs, a focus for the small communities in the upper Dee valley. Edward Lhuyd notes that there were some 30 homes by the church, a sizeable number. The later turnpike road which, interestingly veers dramatically to the west, would no doubt have brought trade and further settlement to the area. Buildings within the village seem to be generally 18th and 19th century, attributable to the building of the turnpike road, though Tyddyn Llan to the west of the village centre is likely to be 17th century.
Llandrillo is a village you will find returning to time and time again, in order to experience several thousand years of history, the mark of ancient peoples and their enduring legacy.