And who can pass by Slwch Tump? Brecon town, nestling amid its Beacons in South Powys, mid Wales, has a small steep wooded hill in its western parts. St Eluned (Eilwedd or Aled), a virgin, was despised by locals of several places for her dishevelled appearance while trying to live a life of prayer . Her story is the classic one of a rejected suitor who found her and decapitated her. Her head rolled down the hill till it was stopped by a stone by a yew tree and a holy well rose on the spot. The Chapel and well are now gone but one can still climb the beautiful path up the hill under the trees which mediaeval pilgrims trod to reach them.
There are many stories of decapitated saints. The Celts thought heads were a special part of the human being. But in any case such a fate was an obvious way of quickly dispatching someone. Women were pretty defenceless. The appeal of such stories probably had much to do with the perversity of the male ego: ‘you cannot turn me down and expect to live’. To which the reply might be: ‘Now I am holy, you cannot touch me; and thousands kneel at my grave in remembrance of your evil deed’.
The famous Welsh historian Gerald of Wales lived in Brecon in the 12/3C; he was the archdeacon there. He personally testifies to the devotion St Eluned aroused and the conversions she caused.
She has a fine well, now restored, at Llanddew, a little to the north east of Brecon town.