The king returneth homewards through Westwales, and of the speaking stone at saint Dauids.
THE king being minded and determined to returne into England, set his realme
of Ireland in good order, and left Hugh de Lacie (vnto whom he had giuen in fee
the countrie of Meth) with twentie gentlemen, & Fitzstephans & Maurice Fitzgerald
with twentie other gentlemen, to be wardens and conestables of Dublin. Likewise
he left Humfreie de Bohune, Robert Fitzbarnard, and Hugh de Gundeuile,
with twentie gentlemen, to kéepe and gouerne Waterford. Also he left William
Fitzaldelme, Philip of Hastings, and Philip de Bruse, to be gouernors and rulers
of Wexford: tley hauing also twentie gentlemen of seruice appointed vnto them.
And on the mondaie in the Easter wéeke, earlie in the morning at the sunne rising,
he tooke shipping without the barre of Wexford; and the wind being westerlie
and blowing a good gale, he had a verie good passage, and arriued about the noonetide
of the same daie vnto the baie of saint Dauids: where he being set on land,
he went on foot with a staffe in his hand in pilgrimage, and in great deuotion vnto
the church of saint Dauids; whom the cleargie in procession met at the gate called
the white gate, and with great honour receiued him. And as they were going
verie orderlie and solemnlie in procession, there came vnto him a Welsh or a Camber
woman; and falling downe at his feet, she made a great complaint against the
bishop of that place: which being by an interpretor declared vnto the king, albeit
he vnderstood it well, yet he gaue hir no answer.
She thinking that hir sute was not regarded, did wring hir fists, and cried out
with a lowd voice; "Reuenge vs this day O Lechlanar, Reuenge vs I say, our kindred,
and our nation, from this man." And being willed by the people of that
countrie, who vnderstood hir speach, to hold hir peace, as also did thrust hir out
of the compianie; she cried the more, trusting and alluding to a certeine blind
A prophesie of Merlin.
prophesie of Merlin, which was; that "The king of England the conqueror of Ireland,
should be wounded in Ireland by a man with a red hand, and in his returning
homewards through Southwales should die vpon Lechlanar." This (1) Lechlanar was
the name of a certeine great stone which laie ouer a brooke, which fléeth or runneth
on the north side of the churchyard, and was a bridge ouer the same: and
by reason of the often and continuall going of the people ouer it it was verie
smooth and slipperie. In length it was of ten foot, in brteath six foot, and in
thicknesse one foot. And this word Lechlanar, in the Camber or Welsh toong,
A speaking stone.
is to saie, The speaking stone. For it was an old blind saieng among the people
in that countrie, that on a time there was a dead carps caried ouer that stone to
be buried, and the said stone spake, and foorthwith brake and claue asunder in
the middle, and which cliff so remaineth vnto this daie. And therevpon the people
of that countrie, of a verie vaine and barbarous superstition, haue not since,
nor yet will carie anie more dead bodies ouer the same.
The king being come to this stone, and hearing of this prophesie, paused and
staied a little while; and then vpon a sudden, verie hastilie he went ouer it: which
doone, he looked backe vpon the stone, and spake somewhat sharpelie, saieng:
"Who is bethat will beleeue that lieug Merlin anie more?" A man of that place
standing thereby, and séeing what had happened, he to excuse Merlin, said with
a lowd voice; "Theu art not he that shall conquer Ireland, neither dooth Merlin
meane it of thée." The king then went into the cathedrall church which was dedicated
to saint Andrew and to saint Dauid; and hauing made his praiers, and heard
diuine seruice, he went to supper, and rode after to Hauerford west to bed, which
is about twelue miles from thense.
(1) The writer hereof (of verie purpose) in the yeare 1575, went to the foresaid
place to see the said stone, but there was no such to be found; and the place
where the said stone was said to lie, is now an arched bridge, vnder which fléeteth
the brooke aforesaid, which brooke dooth not diuide the churchyard from the
church, but the churchyard & church from the bishops and prebendaries houses,
which houses in times past swere verie faire and good hospitalitie kept therein. But
as the most part of houses are fallen down, and altogither ruinous, so the hospitalitie
is also therewith decaied. And for the veritie of the foresaid stone, there
is no certeintie affirmed, but a report is remaining amongst the common people of
such a stone to haue béene there in times past.