St. Govan’s Chapel

At best, St. Govan’s history can be described as murky. While there are multiple theories that attempt to describe this man, with some even arguing that he was a thief, there is one thing that is very clear – he was an iconic figure who could not be immortalized any better than raising a monument in his name.

Whoever Govan was, history has it that the man was attacked by Irish pirates while on his way to Wales. In an attempt to escape from the pirates, he ran to a side of a cliff, and the rock there is believed to have transformed into a cave where he hid himself. After the pirates pursued him to no avail, they left but Govan remained in his hideout as a way of showing thanks to God, his savior. There, he established a monastic hermitage, where he would live until he died.

After his death, the cave became an important shrine, and it was named St. Govan’s Head. The spring from which Govan used to fetch his water was believed to cure eye and limb ailments. Somewhere around the 13th or 14th century, Govan’s followers raised a stone chapel on the site. The chapel, which measures approximately 20 ft by 12 ft still exists up to this day (2019), and it is what is now known as the St. Govan’s Chapel. The chapel contains nothing other than a small altar and a bench – Govan is believed to have been buried underneath this altar. Adjacent to Govan’s burial place is a dry well upon which people cast their wishes.