Steeped in history and heritage, evidence has shown that Ffynnon Beuno has proven a safe haven for people for over 38000 years
From the labyrinth of caves discovered in 1866 by Henry Hick to the brook which forms part of the historic well of Saint Beuno. Ffynnon Beuno has a long and elaborate history that we work hard to protect for future generations.
Ffynnon Beuno and its neighbour at Cae Gwyn are of International significance since confirmation as being the last occupied European site of Northern European Neanderthals before their extinction (approximately 42000 years BC) and the first site occupied by Homo Sapiens to occupy Europe some 37000 years BC. The cave is one of only 3 sites in Britain known to contain artefacts from both periods. Originally excavated by the Victorian archaeologist Henry Hicks in 1885, the site produced bones from Wooly Mammoth and Rhino, Hyena jaws and early flint tools. The caves are also the winter roost for a colony of rare Lesser Horseshoe Bats.
Behind the iconic well front with its mysterious effigy is an ancient stone basin which holds the pure welsh mountain spring waters of Ffynnon Beuno. Beuno, a local legend and welsh miracle performer was born in 545 AD, as a 6th-century abbot and confessor. The icy cold water levels raise and fall with the water table on the land surrounding it.
In his lifetime, Beuno was credited with raising seven people from the dead, including his niece, the virgin Winefride (Gwenffrewi), and his disciple and cousin, Aelhaiarn. Winefride has her own dedicated chapel at Holywell, this is worth a visit and there is an interpretation centre which covers the story of Winefride’s life, death and resurrection at the hands of her uncle, Beuno. A stone from Beuno’s original pulpit at the Capel can still be found at the side of the well in Ffynnon Beuno. Following a life time of passionate evengelism, Beuno returned to Clynnog and remained there for the rest of his days, dying on 21st April AD 640.
St. Beuno was buried in a chapel on the south-west side of the church. It is said to have been destroyed by those searching for his relics. His holy well, Ffynnon Feuno, is about 200 yards from the church. In former days, rickety and epileptic children, as well as impotent folk generally were dipped in it and then carried to the chapel then put to lie overnight on the saint’s tombstone. If they slept, they would be cured.
Translated from Welsh as a spring, well or fountain. A series of old worn steps to the basin shows the many centuries of footsteps from travellers and pilgrims using the well for bathing. The crystal clear water was noted in local records for its purity and sweetness as well as its healing qualities attributed to Beuno. Next to the basin stands a renovated hand pump – often a springtime nesting site for bluetits. Sadly many of the ancient wells of the area have been lost over time so we keep Ffynnon Beuno carefully maintained for future generations to enjoy.
H.M. Stanley 1841–1904
The Victorian explorer who founded Congo Free State is probably best known for saying, “Dr Livingstone, I presume” when he tracked down the missing missionary in Tanganyika. Stanley was a controversial character. His real name was John Rowlands and he was born in St Asaph. Abandoned by his mother, he spent his childhood in a St Asaph workhouse. The stories of his workhouse departure
vary––in one account he ran away after turning on the cruel master; in another he was a valued pupil, leaving to train as a pupil-teacher at Brynford! He then lived with his aunt at Ffynnon Beuno, before leaving for Liverpool, and ultimately America and the beginning of his extraordinary explorations. During his stay he helped his aunt on the farm and in the pub – there is a wonderful chapter in his autobiography where he describes a lively Saturday night in 1856 when Ffynon Beuno was the local tavern. His relations showed him little affection but he had fond memories of the local area. In his autobiography he wrote,
“There I was happiest, withdrawn from contact with the cold-hearted selfish world, with only the sheep and my own thoughts for company.”