Now fades the glimm’ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Gray’s ” Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard “
( excerpt )
St Canna’s Church at Llangan, W.Glamorgan. Some 3 miles NW of Cowbridge, is the 12th century church of St Canna. In the churchyard just a little NW of the church stands a sculptured wheel-head cross, 1.3 metres in height – the carving dating from the 9th century, though the actual stone could be earlier. It stands under a 19th century shelter, similar to a lychgate but smaller in size.
The cross-head dedicated to St Canna, has on it’s front-side, a crucifixtion scene with Christ on the cross and a person at either side. The right hand figure could be holding up a swab on a long pole (St John) or it could be St Longinus the centurion piercing the side of Christ with his lance, whilst on the left side a figure with a strange-shaped head appears to be crouching down. This figure could be the devil. The figure below Christ seems to be stretching out his arms in thanksgiving and holding a small cross in his hand. The reverse side of the cross bears a plain Greek cross.
The churchyard is circular indicating that the site is a pre-Christian one. St Canna was a Breton princess, daughter of Tudur Mawr, who came to Wales in the 6th century with her husband, St Sadwrn, and her son, St Crallo. They became active Christian missionaries, each founding their own church. Near the church is Ffynnon Ganna – St Canna’s Holy Well. There is another Llangan, in Dyfed.