This passage forms part of historian Fred Hando’s journey through Gwent.

At the foot of the hill the cluster of brown cottages caught my fancy.

Set against the swelling green of Bal Mawr they were a study in old-time grace and harmony.

At the Half Moon Inn, Mr and Mrs Stockwell greeted me: "Of course we have one of your uncle's clocks. It is so accurate that we never alter it."

Imagine my thrill when I saw the wall clock with his name, "John Hando, Brecon," on the face. Jeweller of Brecon, he kept all the church clocks of the county in order, and one of the great joys of our holidays in Brecon was to accompany him in his pony-drawn governess car from church to church.

Hanging on the same wall as the clock was the strange iron object sown in my sketch. It was discovered recently amidst miscellaneous limber in an unused room of the inn. Obviously it is a cutlass-handled ceremonial mace, but its age and specific purpose and its location at he Half Moon are conjectural.

One could with ease picture an old-time thief bartering the mace for old-time cwrw-da...

Turning up the Abbey lane. I parked the car where David found solitude and peace in his humble cell some 1,300 years ago.

He is recalled of course by the little church of St. David's dwarfed nu the majestic abbey, half as old.

Five centuries later William de Lacy, weary after a day's hunting of deer, rested alongside the ruins of the cell. The effect of fatigue and the utter serenity of this requested shrine was immediate.

Listen to one of the monks...

'He laid aside his belt and girdled himself with a rope; instead of a fine linen, he covered himself with hair cloth; and instead of his soldier's robe he loaded himself with heavy irons. The suit of armour he still wore as a garment to harden himself against the temptations of his old enemy, Satan...

'He thus crucified himself and continued this hard armour on his body until it was worn out with rust and age.'

The fame of William the hermit reached the court of Henry I and soon he was joined by Ernesi, chaplain to Queen Maud. It is safe to allot the chancel of St David's to the efforts of two anchorities in 1108 A.D.

That chancel of today was the whoel churhc of 1108. As I stood facing the altar an abstract of moss and ivy, ropes and hair-cloth and rusty armour formed an imagination the background to the images of the three saints who had lived on this little plot of ground. And i was that tiny sanctuary which decided the sitting of the vast Llanthony Abbey.

The nave of St David;s demands careful study. Where else have four doorways, two fireplaces, a sewer running across the west end, and signs of window-seats under two of the south windows? This was without doubt the infirmary hail - of the monks, joined to their infirmary church.

I walked around the church noting the Early Norman windows, the one square-headed Tudor replacement, the door-ways. In the barn, opposite the western doorway in the south wall of the church is a further ancient doorway which needs explanation.

A stroll between the outhouses into the field south-east of the abbey ended with a shock as I gazed into a pit, some fifteen feet wide, part filled with rubbish of all kinds. It was still possible, however, to see some of the dressed stones and L-shaped nest-holes of the Llanthony dovecote, unique in our island.

Discovered by workman sixty years ago, this was our only underground dovecote, with its ground-floor, and entrance between wing-walls, seven feet below surface.

Above the circular walls with their nest-holes, the roof was built bee-hive fashion with a capstone 4ft. 4in in diameter in which was a central hole of 1ft 4in in diameter. The walls were four feet inch and an observer in 1905 suggested that the columbarium was built so at times it might be covered with earth.

My duty is clear. If the food farmer agrees, this unique relic must be cleared of rubbish among which fragments of the roof and capstone will be found.

Rovers and scouts, hikers and pony trekkers from Capel-y-Ffin - here is a project worth of your Zest!A century back, in September 1864, died Walter Landor, friend of Southey and Robert Browning of all people.

How those two must have wrangled. This strange and turbulent genius seemed doomed to arouse antipathy.

Expelled from Rugby, sent down from Oxford, he sought in 1809 at the age of 34, to realise himself in a new environment.

He realised himself!

This is an extract from Hando’s Gwent, Volume One, edited by Chris Barber and reproduced with Mr Barber’s permission.