History of development
St Meilig is said to have come from Clydeside in c.AD 650 and he
or his successors are believed to have established a clas community
at Llowes. Whilst the church is fficially dedicated to St Meilig,
the name of the settlement reflects an obscure holy man St Llywes
(Lyuhes) who was supposedly already established here when he was
joined by Meilig. This in turn appears to be linked to old Welsh
loches/llochwes meaning ‘ a refuge or place of safety’.
It is mentioned both in the Liber Landavensis and by Geraldus Cambrensis.
The former has it as podum liuhess in eluail with a date broadly
in the second quarter of the 12th century, and Geraldus referred
to it as Locheis. In the papal taxation of 1291 it was named as
both Lewas and Lockwas.
There is a reference, unsubstantiated, to the fact that an anchorite
named Wechelen had a hermitage here in the 12th century (4347).
The nature of the subsequent development of the settlement can only
be guessed at. In a survey of 1816, it consisted of a church, public
house, mill and nine dwellings. Unlike some settlements there is
no suggestive patterning, and the only archaeological work in the
village – a watching brief in 2000 – failed to identify
any medieval or later traces of activity next to Mill Cottages.
The Heritage to 1750
No traces of the early medieval 'clas' community have been recognised.
It can be no more than supposition, albeit a reasonable one, that
it lay on the spot now occupied by the church. The nave and chancel
of St Meilig's church (16039) were rebuilt between 1853 and 1855,
but the west tower is medieval, its later stage added in the Perpendicular
style. In addition to the cross (see below), there is an early
13th-century font within the church, but little else of any great
interest. The church also houses a remarkable, 11th century decorated
cross-slab with a large cross in high relief (399; SAM Rd100).
It was moved from the churchyard into the church in 1956, but
a local tradition reported in the church is that it was originally
set on Bryn-y-rhydd Common, the higher ground to the south-west
of the village, at a place called Croesfeilig and was moved to
the churchyard at some unknown date.
The churchyard (16206) is raised high above the general ground
level on its south-east side, but elsewhere its elevation is much
less pronounced. Notwithstanding this, it has a strong curvilinear
appearance and the linear alignments on its north side hint at
modifications to what is essentially an early-medieval design.
The Old Vicarage (16073; Grade II listing) incorporates a late
medieval, cruck-framed hall house, perhaps of 16th-century date
if not earlier.
The much altered Radnor Arms Inn (36594; Grade II listing) was
said to have a 15th- or 16th-century main range by Cadw, but the
Royal Commission claim a 17th-century date for it.
Llowes Mill (23005), abandoned in the 1920s, is undated. Llowes
Court (25863) is also 16th-century, but at a distance of 300m
it falls outside the settlement.
A former orchard above Mill Cottages (OS plot 1082) contains what
appear to be terraces and platforms (16207), probably the sites
of earlier medieval dwellings. East of the church and on the opposite
side of the main road (OS plot 3675), the scarp above the stream
may have been levelled for use (16209); and a rather more distinctive
terraced platform (PAR 16208) is visible higher up the hillside
where it is crossed by a footpath. A further platform (16210)
in Fron Wood is less convincing.