St Michael, and the Dragon of Radnor Forest

It is a well-known fact that St. Michael slew the dragon. Less well known are the five churches, dedicated to St. Michael, built in a ring around the Radnor Forest in mid Wales. They guard a sleeping dragon but who can tell what fate awaits us should the churches close?

Drovers Retreat nestles in the parish of Llanfihangel Rhydithon (Llanfihangel means Church of St. Michael). The other 'Michael' churches are at Discoed, Llanfihagel Nant Melan and Cefynllys.


Five churches guard our dragon, 
The ancient legend goes, 
But though most folk are sceptical 
I have glimpsed his toes, 
They mark the fissures in the land 
Where gullies cut right through 
Majestic hills and pastured banks,
I’ve seen his sharp spines too 
Picked out as trees of conifer 
Arched on his back. Its true! 

Soft shadows on Rhydithon,  
With rows of empty pews, 
Are folded dragon’s wings, 
-He’s crouched in midday snooze. 
His tail sweeps round from Cascob, 
Through Discoed to Nant Melan 
Marking the road like a ribbon 
Mapped out in nature’s plan. 
At Cefnllys he rests his head 
Tucked in rings of Yew, 
While sleeping breath
and moistened tongue 
Fashion the misty hue. 

When sun glints through the forest
It’s the sparkle of his eye, 
And the howl at night in winter 
The pain of his lonely cry. 
I’ve walked the paths in sun’s full heat 
With fire upon my skin, 
When wind whips up as birds take flight 
With a roar that awakes in him. 

The farmer finds he’s lost some stock 
And only bones remain, 
The dew pond dries, and the hay crop fails 
As folk look to the hills again.
Then our dragon rouses from his rest 
As church doors slam shut tight
The beast stands up, stretching his limbs
And creeps out of the forest at night. 

©Carolyn Kennard

The dragon’s back?

The dragon’s back?