Rhiwbina, Rhibeina or Rhiwbeuno

St Beuno - Patron Saint of sick children and healthy cattle

St Beuno – Patron Saint of sick children and healthy cattle

We each have our own idea of what Rhiwbina is, whether we have grown up in this leafy suburb or have recently settled here, but on the surface it appears to be quite a safe and tranquil place. However, scratch the surface a little and beneath this calm veneer we find Rhiwbina has endured a violent and bloody past.

The first signs of settlement can be found on the Wenallt where Iron Age remains have been discovered but, so far, this is believed to be only a small encampment and it was not until  the late 6th Century that a place called Rhiwbina wa recorded. The origin of the name has been attributed to St Beuno, the patron saint of sick children and healthy cattle, who performed a few miracles here on his journey around Wales and this area became known as Rhiw Beuno (Beuno’s Slope).

When the Norman’s arrived in the 11th Century they began their defence of their territory by building temporary forts which comprised a mound (motte) topped by a wooden fort. A good example of this ‘motte and bailey’ fortification can be found within the walls of Cardiff Castle but we have the remains of a smaller outpost close to Wenallt road that is locally known as the Twmpath or Twmp.

The stream close to All Saints Church and the Butcher’s Arms Pub is called Rhyd Waedlyd which means ‘Bloody Ford’ and may have got its name from a battle here during that period. Some historians say that Iestyn ap Gwrant, the Prince of Morganwg was slain here in a battle so brutal that the stream ran red with blood. However there is more tangible evidence of a battle at this site during the civil war when Royalists besieging Cardiff Castle were engaged in battle by the Parliamentarians and that it was this battle that gave the stream its gory name.

Local legend also has it that Oliver Cromwell slept in the farmhouse in Heol Erwin.

So next time you are crossing the bridge near All Saints Church and hear the gentle bubbling of the stream remember it once ran red with the blood of those slain in battle.

Don’t forget to celebrate St Beuno’s feast day on April 21st and bring your sick children and healthy cattle.

Rob Lancey