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shaft is covered with a very simple yet effective treatment of knot-work.
The north side is also covered with knot-work. The most striking variation in the detail of these three crosses is the absence, in that at Hope, of the elaborate scrolled and foliated work which covers one face and a side at Bakewell, and one face at Eyam ; and at Eyam the cross-head is perfect, and there are indications of it at Bakewell, but none at Hope. The height of the present structure is 6 ft. 6 ins., the plan at the base 1 ft. 6) ins. by 12 ins., and at the top 10. ins. by 61 ins.
The shaft of each of the three crosses appears to have been a monolith of mill-stone grit, and the process of working to have been first by drilling out the patterns and afterwards finishing with the chisel.
Looking at the cross at Hope, it will generally be agreed that it is in no way inferior in design or workmanship to those at Bakewell or Eyam ; and the locality which possesses the three in so close proximity may indeed be reckoned a favoured one.
My concluding words must be on the point of date, and they will be brief. Mr. Romilly Allen has said, in effect : “There is no clear proof that the ornament used on these crosses was employed prior to the year 821.”
If the accepted term “ Pre-Norman” be correct, none of it was executed after 1066. This leaves some 245 years for the time of the erection of these monuments, with which, perhaps, we may be content. If my own observation is to be trusted, it would incline towards the later rather than the earlier part of the allotted period.
THE ANCIENT UNIVERSITY OF BRITAIN.
BY THE REV. W. S. LACH-SZYRMA, M.A.
HE question, " Which is the oldest univer
sity of Britain ?" is one of considerable interest to us all. Some may suggest that Oxford is the oldest, and derives its origin from the age of Alfred the Great. Modern criticism rather tends
to throw doubts on this old-fashioned theory, and to post-date the foundation of that university. Many Cambridge men claim that their university is the elder. Be this as it may, before the reign of Alfred the Great, and indeed before his birth, there was a university in Britain some four hundred years old, which, in tảe age of Alfred, after a long period of usefulness, and after having been a centre of light to Celtic Britain, had already passed its acmé, and from political causes was verging to decay. I refer to the university of Llaniltyd Fawr, or rather Llant wit Major, as it is now called, which was founded in the age of Theodosius II, and reached almost its acmé under the great St. Iltyd, or Iltutus, its chancellor, before the landing of St. Augustine in Kent, i.e., about 520 A.D.
We are here brought into contact with the question, “ Where did the more enlightened and upper-class Britons go to be educated during the latter part of the Roman occupation ?" Probably to the cities of Gaul. We have, I think, no records of a place of higher education in Britain, until the foundation of Llaniltyd Fawr. Probably there was none, and if the sons of British chieftains sought education they were sent to Gaul or Italy to obtain it. Facts point that way ; for when the invasion of the barbarians burst on the Roman Empire, when Attila and the Huns devasted Continental Europe,
then, in the reign of Theodosius II, it is said that, close to the coast of Glamorgan, in a fair vale among the Cymrian mountains, was established the university or colleges of Llantwit.
But troublous times came. In 446 the Irish pirates are said to have burnt the first college to the ground. A generation passed away, and then the great St. Iltyd (knight, hermit, and teacher) restored it, and established it as a seat of light at a time pre-eminently belonging to the “Dark Ages.” Here it is said "youths of various nations came, among whom were the sons of British nobles, foreign princes, besides numerous others, amounting at one time to more than 2,000 students, and one tradition even roughly computes the number at 3,000” (Fryer's Llantuit Major, p. 18). This probably was an exaggeration, but the story about foreigners coming is not quite so improbable as it may seem at first sight. The age after Attila and Alaric was not one suited to quiet study in Gaul or Armorica ; and it is quite possible that some strangers may have come for rest and safety to the mountain district of Glamorgan, then less disturbed by barbarians and heathen invaders than most parts of western Europe. There is little doubt that here St. Pol de Leon, the famous Armorican bishop, St. Padarn, " the Blessed Visitor of Britain,” St. Samson, bishop of Dôl, and other famed prelates of the early part of the sixth century were educated. The discipline was monastic (as indeed that of most medieval universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, was originally). Even to this day something of this monastic tradition, modernised and modified, lingers around the colleges on the Isis and the Cam. So we must not grudge Llant wit its university title because it was rather monastic in tone, for nearly all the universities of the Middle Ages were such at first.
Among the students here was the British historian Gildas, who, however, seems to have studied here as a man, not a lad. I always regard him as an aggravating historian. He could have told us so much we want to know, and always gets to sermonising on the wickedness
Taliesin, the Bard, was another of the alumni.
of the age.
Everyone who is imbued with love for the past of his country and the memory of his ancestors, should (if he gets the chance) visit the site of that ancient universitythe Oxford of the Ancient Britons - where the great and good men whose names are so often on Welshmen's and Cornishmen's lips (as patrons and founders of their parishes), were educated. Llantwit is not so hard to get at now. It lies on the Glamorganshire coast, just a mile inland, almost in sight of the hills of North Devon and North Cornwall; and this year the Barry Railway makes it an easy and cheap journey from either Swansea or Cardiff, As the Rev. E. J. Newell, in his History of the Welsh Church, truly says:
“ Llantwit is even now, despite some recent improvements, one of the most delightful places in our delightful isle. Its quaint old cottages, with small windows and low, broad doorways ; its ruined castle and plain town-hall, with St. Iltyd's bell in the belfry; its grassy heights, that look out over the silver-bright waters of the Severn Sea ... and its narrow valley stretching seaward between sides of strangely regular slope ; its British camp and its monastic ruins, and, more than all, its church, which is not one but three churches—a monastic church at the east end, a parish church in the middle, and a Galilee at the west endand the old monuments that stand therein and among the flowers of the churchyard, with their precious memories of the ancient saints: these all unite to produce an impression that is quite unique. Usually, elsewhere, the old is blended with the new, but here, until quite recently, the nineteenth century had scarce dared to intrude; and it seemed that here, at least, one might find a haven from its commonplace mediocrity, as Iltyd found in his time a haven for his spirit to rest in. Even the simplicity of the people, which is proverbial in Glamorganshire, was not lacking to complete the spell.
The monk who tells us the story of St. Iltyd's life felt the strange, subtle charm of the spot in his day. When Iltyd came there, he says, it pleased him well, for it was a delightful place ; there was a fertile plain, with no ruggedness of mountain or of hill; a thick wood with trees of various kinds, the dwelling-place of many crea
tures ; and a river flowing between pleasant banks. It was, in truth, the most beautiful of all spots.”
Such was the university where many of the most eminent Welsh, Cornish, and Breton saints were educated —a little city by the Bristol Channel, in one of the fairest vales of Glamorgan: with its embankment towards the sea raised by St. Iltyd, its seven churches and seven colleges, the centre of light, when all Europe was in the gloom of the Dark Ages.
This is no mere dream. The remains even to-day of Llantwit Major testify to there being something in it. The town is a town of ruins, and reminded me, when I visited it, of a suburb of Rome, where the present and the remote past seem to mingle together. Wherever one went there were relics of Romano-British works of more than a thousand years ago.
The hill over the churchyard was furrowed with remains of the foundations of buildings said to be one of the colleges of St. Iltyd ; in the churchyard, the pillar reared by King Howell in the ninth century, the menhir of St. Samson, the mysterious pillar with the groove carved over with curious Celtic designs, the ancient crosses in and out of the churchyard, all witness the truth of the statement that here was a great centre of the Ancient British Church.
Centuries before Oxford or Cambridge were founded, a generation before St. Gregory the Great saw the Saxon slave-boys in the Roman market, in the age of the fall of the Western Empire, when Europe was lapsing into barbarism, this university of Llaniltyd Fawr was spreading light and Christianity, and such civilisation as the aye retained, into Wales, Cornwall, Armorica, and it may be (until the Pagan Saxons stopped the work) into the towns and villages of South Britain, or at least of that which we now call the West of England, i.e., Devon, Somerset, and Dorset. It was the chief university of Britain, and from here the light spread through West Wales or Cornwall into Armorica.
But what was the culture that it diffused ? An attempt has been made by Dr. Fryer, in his charming book, Llantwit Major; a Fifth-century University, in his chapter on “Students and Teachers,” to give an idea of the cur