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A celebration of the Welsh Christian experience: new book explores pilgrim sites across Wales and beyond

This week sees the publication of Where the Saints Came From: On Pilgrimage in Wales and Beyond by Anne Hayward (Y Lolfa). The book tells the story of the Christian faith in Wales from late-Roman times to the present day and includes discussion of over forty off-the-beaten-track religious sites and artefacts.

Where the Saints Came From by Anne Hayward combines extensive research on the sites and history with thousands of miles of walking on pilgrimage in Wales and further afield. The result is a celebration of the Welsh Christian experience.

Author Anne Hayward says:

Where the Saints Came From is different from my other books in that it is a compilation of over 40 suggested places to visit, all of which I have come across while walking on pilgrimage in Wales and beyond. All the material is new and is based on my experiences as a long-distance walker and contemporary pilgrim.

“I always have a great time whether I’m in places of wild beauty or more urban areas, near the coast or inland. Above all, what I have learnt is the joy of slow travel and how there can be places of interest and significance wherever you go.”

This wide-ranging book covers topics as diverse as early medieval ecclesiastical bells, the impact of faith and belief in the Civil War of the seventeenth century, and the portrayal of Celtic saints in modern literature and art.

“I don’t have a favourite site as such but gems that stand out in my memory include the very poignant memorial to Blessed William Davies at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Beaumaris and the excellent Margam Stones Museum near Port Talbot. Also, some very tucked away places such as the old ‘Friends’ graveyard at Quakers Yard near Merthyr Tydfil and the landscape features associated with St Tydecho near Llanymawddwy in the south of Eryri,” says Anne Hayward.

On the practicalities of walking on pilgrimage, Anne says:

“I would have to say that I don’t generally follow ‘official’ pilgrimage routes but make up routes of my own, devising from existing footpaths and public rites of way. This has led to some glorious walking. I also get to stay (I’m a lightweight camper) in some very special places too!

“This year I will be undertaking my tenth annual pilgrimage, setting out after Easter for St Malo and Dol-de-Bretagne in northern France. I’m also planning another trip in the north of England in the summer and beginning to think about 2025, when I hope to walk across Wales again and make my way to Armagh, the ancient religious centre in Northern Ireland.”

Where the Saints Came From will appeal to anyone who is interested in history – especially Church history, and associated spirituality, in Wales and the wider British Isles – and to those who enjoy walking and the outdoors.