Merthyr Dyfan

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Merthyr Dyfan
Merthyr Dyfan parish church.jpg
The parish church of St Dyfan and St Teilo
Location: 51°25’3"N, 3°17’38"W
Population: 5,166  (2011)
Post town: Barry
Postcode: CF62
Dialling code: 01446
Local Government
Council: Vale of Glamorgan
Vale of Glamorgan

Merthyr Dyfan or Dyfan is an ancient parish that forms a north-eastern suburb of Barry in Glamorgan. Formerly an independent mediæval village, it is also an ecclesiastical parish[2] It borders Colcot to the west, Buttrills to the south-west and Gibbonsdown to the south-east. Merthyr Dyfan contains an old parish church, Barry Rugby Club, and a Comprehensive School.


Although the usual modern meaning of the Welsh word merthyr (from the Greek μαρτυς, μαρτυρος "witness") is 'martyr', the word formerly also indicated a martyrium, a martyr's grave or a structure or church erected at such a grave.[4] Similar examples are Merthyr Cynog, Merthyr Tydfil, and Merthyr Mawr. Of the Dyfan who presumably inspired the name, nothing seems to be known, although the Iolo Manuscripts collected by Edward Williams have led to his popular conflation with the St Deruvian who was added to the King Lucius legends in the 12th century. Owing to Williams's numerous forgeries and additions to other texts, however, this identification is now generally discredited.[5] Baring-Gould notes Deruvian's "whole history, from beginning to end, is a pure fabrication, and the church of Merthyr Dyfan has been made to serve as a peg to hang it on".[6] The earliest historic church at the site was credited (and then dedicated) to St Teilo in the 6th century.[7] The current church is Norman, built in the early 13th century, and was consecrated by Bishop William de Burgh of Llandaff in 1250.[8] The church fell into neglect during the Reformation period but was fully restored in the late 19th century.[8] In 1970 it underwent renovation: amongst other things, the windows were reglazed and the church was reroofed in Welsh slate.[8] It is now formally dedicated to both Saints Dyfan and Teilo[9] and as recently as 2010 the local parish continued to claim it to be the oldest Christian site in Wales, citing the legends concerning King Lucius.[10][11]

The village of Merthyr Dyfan grew up during the mediæval period. The centre of the original village and church are located in what today is the south-westernmost part of Merthyr Dyfan district. It was originally located around 175 to 225 ft above sea level.[12] The centre of the mediæval village was excavated by a local man, G. Tyley, between 1968 and 1978.[12] In 1969 he excavated and examined an old corn-drying kiln at the site. The Merthyr Dyfan Chapel is located near the Barry Cemetery to the south.

Housing development grew up along Merthyr Dyfan hill, north of the original village, in the early 1950s, and the area to the northwest became a council estate, Colcot. Further extensive development took place between the 1960s and the 1980s, with the building of Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, and housing estates to the east and southeast (Lundy Park). Holm View Leisure Centre was built around 1990.


  1. "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  2. Merthyr Dyfan L084, The Church in Wales. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  3. University of Wales Dictionary, vol. III, page 2436.
  4. The Cornish and Breton language equivalents, in place names, are merther and merzher.[3]
  5. Bartrum, Peter C. "Duvianus (1)", in A Welsh Classical Dictionary: People in History and Legend up to about A. D. 1000, p. 236. National Library of Wales, 1993. Emended 2009.
  6. Baring-Gould, Sabine & al. The Lives of the British Saints: The Saints of Wales and Cornwall and Such Irish Saints as Have Dedications in Britain, Vol. II, pp. 394–395. Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (London), 1911.
  7. Rees, Rice (1836). An essay on the Welsh saints or the primitive Christians ... founders of churches in Wales. Longman. p. 87. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Parish of Merthyr Dyfan, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan". Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  9. The Church in Wales. "St Dyfan and Teilo". Representative Body of the Church in Wales, 2014. Accessed 3 February 2015.
  10. The Church in Wales. "The Parish of Merthyr Dyfan: Barry, South Wales". Parish of Merthyr Dyfan (Merthyr Dyfan), 2010. Hosted at the Internet Archive. Accessed 3 February 2015.
  11. In fact, the Lucius legends never accorded such a place to Merthyr Dyfan, were developed as a means of buttressing the antiquity of Glastonbury, and involved foundations at Llandaff rather than Merthyr Dyfan.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales (1976). An inventory of the ancient monuments in Glamorgan. H.M.S.D.. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
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