News Opportunity Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage Today – routes to flourishing communities and enterprise


Pilgrimage Today - routes to flourishing communities and enterprise

Ancient Connections is collaborating with the British Pilgrimage Trust to host a pilgrimage symposium 11/12 March 2023

Book your place via Eventbrite

This free symposium will celebrate pilgrimage and ask three vital questions: ‘How do you create a successful pilgrim route?’, ‘What’s in it for all of us?’ And ‘Is there a difference between a tourist and a pilgrim? The event marks the launch of the new Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way that will link Ferns in North Wexford with St Davids in Pembrokeshire and is part of the wider EU funded Ancient Connections project connecting these two regions through arts, heritage and tourism.

The programme begins on Saturday 11th March with a keynote speech given by Satish Kumar, a trustee of the British Pilgrimage Trust. Kumar undertook a peace pilgrimage from India to Moscow, London, Paris, and America in 1962 and he has subsequently devoted his life to campaigning for ecological regeneration, social justice and spiritual fulfilment. Now in his 80s, Kumar is an inspirational speaker, teacher and author. This is followed by an action packed day, combining chaired sessions as well as inclusive discussion forums. A representative of Visit Wales and Andrew Smith and Ciara Byrne of Fáilte Ireland will speak about spiritual tourism in Wales and Ireland. Other speakers include Ruben Heijloo, Director of Nordic Pilgrim, Very Reverend Dr Sarah Rowland-Jones, Dean of St Davids Cathedral and John G O’Dwyer, Chairman of Pilgrim Paths Ireland. There will be opportunities to explore pilgrimage practice as well as time to chat and network with other attendees. The second day on Sunday 12th March is an optional extra, where participants will have the chance to walk some of the new pilgrim route in Wexford or participate in a pilgrimage singing workshop and reflect on ideas emerging from the day before.

It is expected that the symposium will appeal to and attract a wide range of people from different backgrounds including local businesses in the hospitality, tour guide and accommodation industries, spiritual tourism specialists and policy makers, academics and researchers, local government representatives and community members

A broad spectrum of stakeholders and partners have been involved in shaping the event programme, including the British Pilgrimage Trust who are leading on the development of the new pilgrim route along with Pilgrim Paths Ireland, Journeying and Guided Pilgrimage. Staff at St Davids Cathedral & Diocese, who are celebrating Year of Pilgrimage in 2023, have also been key stakeholders in the process. A number of individual specialists have also contributed such as Bernadette Flanagan: Associate Professor in Spirituality South East Technological University (Wexford), Christopher Catling: Chief Executive of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and Chair of Welsh Places of Worship and Jaeyeon Choe, Lecturer in Tourism and Events at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The symposium is free and includes lunch and optional dinner but not accommodation or travel. Booking is on a first come first served basis.

Full Programme

Day 1 – 11th March 2023




Opening Note / Welcome Remarks

A representative from the Ancient Connections project


Keynote Speech (30 mins talk / 15 mins Q & A)

Name: Satish Kumar

Title: The importance of Pilgrimage

End with a minute’s silence


Movement/stretching/’Get to know each other’ session – Bonnie Boux & Suzi MacGregor – Creative Camino Artists.


Tea/Coffee Break – 25 mins


Question 1: How do you create a successful pilgrim route? – best practice from Ireland and Britain


Pilgrimage in Ireland


Pilgrim Paths in Ireland – the 21st century Revival – John G O’Dwyer, Pilgrim Paths Ireland

Bernadette Flanagan

Southeast Technological University – findings from interviews with pilgrimage tour operators in Ireland.

Sean O Nuallain

University of Ireland  – A new path for Celtic spirituality?

Facilitator: Nessie Reid

10 min presentation followed by 15 min Q&A


Pilgrimage & Tourism

Promoting Pilgrimages through Food Experiences in Rural Communities 

Daniel Olsen, Brigham Young University, USA

Strategies for attracting visitors and pilgrims for communities and church institutions

Anne Bailey, University of Oxford

Materiality, Meaning and Practice: a visual essay of St David’s Well, Co. Wexford, Samantha Morris, TU Dublin, Ireland

Facilitator: Jaeyeon Choe

10 min presentations followed by 15 min Q&A


Pilgrimage in Wales

A year of pilgrimage, Dean Sarah Rowland Jones, St Davids Cathedral

Investing in the future of pilgrimage, Siôn Rhys Evans, Bangor Diocese

Community Co-Creation in the St Thomas Way project.

Professor Catherine Clarke, University of London (St Thomas Way project director)

Facilitator: Iain Tweedale

10 min presentations followed by 15 min Q&A


1 hr Facilitated Session (World Café Model?) – answering above question

·        Challenge 1

·        Challenge 2

·        Challenge 3

·        Challenge 4

·        Challenge 5

·        Groups spend 10 minutes at each table


15 min Facilitated Feedback


Buffet Lunch – 50 mins 



Question 2: What’s in it for all of us? Benefits of pilgrim routes for local communities, accommodation and hospitality providers, local authorities and tourism agencies. How do businesses attract pilgrims in terms of amenities, facilities, atmosphere, products and marketing.

Panel discussion: Spiritual Tourism in Wales and Ireland 40 mins

Visit Wales / Fáilte Ireland

Confirmed: Andrew Smith   Fáilte Ireland Product Development Officer. Ciara Byrne CP&I

Chair: Andrew Campbell Professor of Practice in Tourism UWTSD, Chair of Welsh Government Ministerial Advisory Board for Economy and former Chair of Wales Tourism Alliance

Intro by Andrew Campbell, 2 x 10 min presentations followed by 15 min panel discussion


Business Toolkit

Dawn Champion, British Pilgrimage Trust

Tips on how to adapt your business to meet pilgrim needs such as accommodation and hospitality, trade and products.

Facilitator: Dawn Champion

Workshop style session


Pilgrimage & Community

Roles of Festivals for Promoting Scottish Pilgrimage, Martin Robertson, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland

Eventization of Religious Heritage in Ireland, Ruth Dowson, Leeds Beckett University, England

Economic Impact of Religious Pilgrimage, Razaq Raj, Leeds Beckett University, England

Facilitator: Kevin Griffin

10 minute presentations and 15 minute Q&A


Models for Guided Pilgrimage

Iain Tweedale, Journeying

Ruben Heijloo, Nordic Pilgrim

Phil Brennan, Waterford Camino Tours

Facilitator: Nessie Reid

5 minute presentations, 20 minute facilitated discussion and 10 minute Q&A


Question 3: To be a Pilgrim! Is there a difference between a tourist and a pilgrim? What individual benefits are there from going on pilgrimage and how and when do transformative experiences occur on journeys?



Pilgrimage & Transformation

The Intimate Relationship between Pilgrimage and Tourism: Comparing International Shrines and Pilgrimage Routes

John Eade, University of Roehamptom, London

What Does Modern Spirituality Seek in Ireland, Wales and their ‘Celtic’ Connections? Jonathan M. Wooding, Wales

Motivations for undertaking pilgrimage, Eleanor O’Keefe. National Centre for Social Research

Facilitator: Kevin Griffin

10 min presentations followed by 10 min Q&A


Digital Pilgrims

Pererin Wyf / I am a Pilgrim – presentation about artist Rowan O’Neil and Span Arts project connecting pilgrims in Wexford, Pembrokeshire and  across the Celtic Diaspora.

Pilgrimage and Digitalisation

Jaffer Idris, Sheffield Hallam University, England

Problems and Pitfalls of Using Digital Innovation for Pilgrimage, Michael Di Giovine, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA

Facilitator: Nessie Reid

10 min presentations followed by 15 min Q&A


How to be a pilgrim

Experiential workshop-walk led by British Pilgrimage Trust director, Guy Hayward

Performing ritual in the landscape, Nick Mayhew-Smith, Roehampton University


Facilitator: Guy Hayward

Walk to Enniscorthy Cathedral

45 mins


Short break


Fishbowl – antidote to panel discussions.

This will be an opportunity for everyone to discuss the 3 main questions and any others that arise on the day. It will be facilitated and be fed by questions gathered by note takers from each of the sessions.

Dinner table set up, people can choose to participate in the discussion or sit back and listen. 8-10 people will be invited to sit around the table to start the discussion.

Facilitator:  Nessie Reid


Free time




Poetry reading, Creative Camino Artist Performance & Film Screening

Grahame Davies – poetry reading

Creative Camino artists joint performance: Bonnie Boux, Kate Powell, Ailsa Richardson & Suzi MacGregor

Film screening Title of film: Filmmaker: Will Philpin of ‘When it Rains Creative’

Facilitator: Ruth Jones


Day 2 – 12th March 2023


10:00 – 12:00

Option 1 – Pererin Wyf Singing Workshop – Oportunity to participate in Rowan O’Neil/Span Art’s cross-border project and learn the hymn Pererin Wyf.  Participants to include exchange visitors from Wales (c. 8 people including workshop leader Molara Awen),  exchange trip hosts Rachel and John and the North Wexford traditional singers.  Ferns choir Chord on Blues and anyone else from the symposium who wishes to attend. There will be an opportunity to record your song and add it to the digital map and/or visit Wales and sing the song as part of the Ancient Connections finale event in the Bishop’s Palace St Davids on 29th May 2023.

Option 2 – Walking part of the Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way

Details TBC 


Lunch  – people will need to pay for their own lunch 

14:00 – 15:30

2-3pm Sum-up / facilitated networking session – tbc

Reflective Poetry Writing – opportunity for participants to feedback feeling and reflections on the day. 

Book your place via Eventbrite


Travel and accommodation is the responsibility of attendees. Below is some information to assist with this:


By Hire Car from Dublin Airport to Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy

Link to Google Maps directions

By Bus from Dublin Airport

Bus Eireann (Expressway Route 2) > Dublin Airport to Wexford (with stop in Enniscorthy) Pick up is Red Zone 13 Stop 9

Wexford Bus Route 740 > Dublin Airport to Wexford (with stop in Enniscorthy) Timetable Home – Wexford Bus the 740 Route, Pick up is at Coach Park, Zone 16 (see map

By Train

Sample journey from Dublin (Connolly) train station, to Enniscorthy. While it is a more comfortable journey than the bus, it is harder to get to the train station, which is in Dublin City centre, for the Wexford/Rosslare line (with a stop in Enniscorthy).!P|TP!histId|1!histKey|H692786

Ferry from UK

Fishguard Rosslare route – Stena line

Dublin – Holyhead route – Stena line


Most attendees will be staying at Riverside Park Hotel & Leisure Club

The Promenade, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Y21 T2F4

Other accommodation in Enniscorthy

Treacy’s Hotel

Wexford town accommodation (Note: 20mins drive to Enniscorthy)

Clayton Whites Hotel

Crown Quarter

Ferrycarrig Hotel

Maldron Hotel

Talbot Hotel

Riverbank House Hotel

Whitford House Hotel

For other accommodation options please go to Visit Wexford 

Archaeology News

St Patrick’s Chapel Dig – final report available


Final Report for St Patrick's Chapel dig now available

The view or download the whole document click one the link below


Report Summary below

Coastal erosion has been affecting St Patrick’s early medieval cemetery and medieval chapel at Whitesands, St Davids, Pembrokeshire since at least the mid-twentieth century. Storms in January and February 2014 exposed several burials, following which Dyfed Archaeological Trust in partnership with the University of Sheffield carried out five seasons of excavation: 2014–16, 2019 and 2021, funded by Cadw, the Nineveh Trust, the EU funded Ancient Connections project and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

The earliest elements of the site consisted of an oval stone-built enclosure, 5.5m × 4.5m, with a centrally placed rectangular structure, 1.4m × 1.0m, dating to the mid eighth century. Several of the stones of the structure were carved — a ring-cross with interlace design, a human figure dressed in a tunic with stick arms raised, and an inscription reading ‘donoec’ (an Irish compound name meaning something like ‘dark youth’ or ‘noble warrior’). Evidence of occupation, mammal, bird and fish bones, cereal grains and other carbonised seeds, and craft production accompanied this early element, including the manufacture of copper alloy artefacts and amber working. Wind-blown sand rapidly covered these early elements.

In the mid- late eighth/ninth century a substantial stone-built cemetery enclosure wall was built over oval enclosure and rectangular structure, and the first burials appeared.
The first burials were of young children. Sand continued to accumulate, and as it did so
more burials were put in the ground. Over 250 burials were excavated, stacked up to eight deep in the sand, between the mid- late eighth/ninth century and c. 1100. After the first phase of child burial, both children and adults were buried. The earliest burials were simple dug graves; later in the sequence cist graves appeared.

In the eleventh/twelfth century a layer of rubble was laid down covering the early medieval cemetery and a stone-built chapel constructed. Burials accompanying the chapel consisted of cist graves capped with quartz pebbles or in some examples with limpet shells. All were of children. The chapel was abandoned during the sixteenth century.

News Opportunity

Pererin Wyf – new arts project launch!


Pererin Wyf - new arts project launch!

Pererin Wyf / Is oilithreach mé / I am a Pilgrim: Sounding the way back through story and song

is a new cross border participatory arts project connecting the Welsh and Irish diasporas of North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford launching this Autumn.

The Pererin Wyf project will be delivered by artist Rowan O’Neill and Pembrokeshire based community arts organisation SPAN Arts, working in tandem with co-facilitators, Irish artists Rachel Uí Fhaoláin from Ceol Mo Chroí and John Ó Faoláin from Traditional Archive Channel.

 Pererin Wyf is Welsh for the affirmative statement, ‘I am a pilgrim’ and is the title of an 18th century hymn written by prolific hymn writer, William Williams Pantycelyn from which this project takes its inspiration.  The hymn later became associated with the tune Amazing Grace and was popularised in the 1960s with a recording by Iris Williams.

The Pererin Wyf  project will invite singers from all over the world to record a version of this song in any language from the location of their choice.  Recordings will be pinned to a digital map to form a global chorus of this enduring song.  Project participants will also have the chance to offer their personal reflections and connections to North Pembrokeshire and Wexford whether current resident, the home place of their forebears, or place of significance for other reasons.

The project Pererin Wyf will begin in September 2022 with a series of free bi-weekly online workshops with world class speakers focusing on the key themes of the project; connecting with the Welsh and Irish diaspora, language, home, travel and song.  Speakers will include David Greenslade whose book Welsh Fever is a gazeteer of Welsh activity and connection in North America, Pamela Petro author of The Long Field, a meditation on hiraeth shortlisted for the 2022 Welsh Book of the year, Professor Helen Phelan Director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and Rachel Uí Fhaoláin and John Ó Faoláin, traditional song, folklore and story collectors based in Wexford.

A series of hybrid workshops will follow culminating in an exchange trip between host county participants in the Spring of 2023.  The workshops will result in a new version of the song featuring the Irish language and reflecting contemporary understandings of pilgrimage, home and return.

If you have a personal connection with North Pembrokeshire or Wexford and would like to take part in this project we would love to hear from you.  Please email to find out more about how you could get involved or book a place on the introductory session on the 29th September through 

News Opportunity

Applications sought to deliver FINALE participatory arts project


Applications sought to deliver FINALE participatory arts project

Wexford County Council invites submissions for an ambitious cross-border participatory arts project addressing the overarching theme of ‘Who is a pilgrim?’ that links the communities of Wexford and Pembrokeshire, as well as the international diasporas of these regions. The project is expected to be delivered through a mix of face-to-face activity and online engagement. This commission is expected to be completed by late Spring 2023 and will be the finale of the Ancient Connections arts programme.

There is a total value of €50,000 available for this commission. One lead individual or organisation must apply, but proposals must have a collaborative cross-border partner(s) who will enable delivery of the project evenly between the two regions and the delivery budget must reflect this.

Key aims of the project are to encourage international visitors to both regions and to present an ambitious, engaging and high impact finale project for the local communities of North Wexford and North Pembrokeshire that further enhances and cements their shared history and connections.

Applications are welcomed from organisations and individuals who live in Pembrokeshire or Wexford as well as those outside of the project area, however the applicant must be able to demonstrate a successful delivery model that takes into account their geographical location, as well as the requirement to ensure equal impact and accessibility for participants in both Pembrokeshire and Wexford.

Closing date for applications: 28th February 2022
Applications must be submitted through the etenderie portal. You will need to register as a supplier on the portal in order to view all the tender documents.  

Project Outputs: 

 FINALE arts project Spring 2023

News Pilgrimage

Wexford – Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way


Wexford Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way

The British Pilgrimage Trust have formed a partnership with Pilgrim Paths of Ireland, Journeying and Guided Pilgrimage to manage the new pilgrim route between St Davids, Pembrokeshire and Ferns in County Wexford. The pilgrim route will be the primary legacy of the Ancient Connections project.

Guy Hayward, Director of The British Pilgrimage Trust said:

“The British Pilgrimage Trust aims to facilitate grass roots activity around Britain by offering our expertise for free to all those that need it, and there is so much more of this local community activity now that they are seeing the attractive potential of pilgrimage for the home area that they know and love. We also want more people to actually walk the routes in practice, not just as a historical concept, and that is why we are so excited about this project, creating an old route as new with all the infrastructure that a modern pilgrim needs. Coming together and working with all these different partners – Pilgrim Paths Ireland, Journeying, Guided Pilgrimage, Ancient Connections – who are all passionate about forming a pilgrimage connection between Ireland and Wales, is going to lead to the kind of innovation and freshness of approach that is only possible when different cultures come into contact and share their wisdom. We are in the earliest stage of this project, but I can already tell that we are going to create something very beautiful together that bridges both sides of the Celtic Sea, and something which so many will enjoy and find meaning through for generations to come”.

Working alongside the British Pilgrimage Trust and representing the Irish interest in the project is Pilgrim Paths Ireland. Chairman John G O’Dwyer said: “he was delighted to be part of the team tasked with developing a pilgrim route as part of the Ancient Connections project that will commemorate the 6th-century journey of St Aidan to study under St David in Wales.”  The project will, he believes, revive long-standing links between communities in Pembrokeshire and Wexford by drawing on a common heritage to actively share local knowledge, experience and skills. “The new pilgrim route should mean much additional spending to Wexford and Pembrokeshire and draw attention to the rich heritage both areas have to offer to visitors,” 

Also joining the team will be two West Wales based not-for-profit companies. Journeying have been taking small groups of pilgrims on guided walking tours to the more off-the-beaten-track parts of Britain and Ireland for over thirty years. Guided Pilgrimage offer Celtic pilgrimages of one day or multi day duration that create a space for people to reconnect body and spirit through the wild and beautiful Celtic landscapes.

Following community consultation and market research, the name of the route will be Wexford – Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way. Cardiff based destination marketing specialists Heavenly, along with graphic design company Orchard have created a unique brand for the route that will inspire visitors from the UK, Ireland and abroad to take up the pilgrim’s mantle and have a potentially life-changing experience. Branding will feature on route way-markers, maps and leaflets as well as pilgrim passports and a pilgrim app.

The route will be open to the public in 2023 for both guided and self-guided tours. There are a number of opportunities to take part in one day pilgrimage events on the new route. 

For more information visit:

This is a route in development and is currently going through the Sport Ireland accreditation process. Although some sections of the route are on existing accredited Wexford Walking Trails (Ferns Village, Oulart Hill, Three Rocks Trail and Carne to Rosslare), all other parts of Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way route have yet to be accredited. Accordingly, Wexford County Council and its route development partners do not accept responsibility and are not liable for any loss, damage or injury which may arise and all users and participants should take all necessary care to satisfy themselves of the suitability and safety of the route.

Project Outputs: Two new FTE jobs. New pilgrim route between Ferns, Wexford and St Davids, Pembrokeshire



Artists Commissions

Arts Project

Artists Commissions

Ancient Connections has commissioned four new artists’ commissions, exploring some interlinked themes that are at the heart of the project including: pilgrimage, connecting with the Celtic diaspora of Ireland and Wales and our relationships to sacred places such as holy wells, chapels and ancient sites.

The artists will produce new artworks over the next two years, inspired by their own research as well as the findings uncovered by the Ancient Connections teams of story gatherers, community researchers and archaeologists. Each artist is expected to create work that can be shared online, in order to engage with both local audiences and with people much further afield such as Australia and North America, where there are significant communities of people with Irish and Welsh ancestry. The artists will also present their work in a final public showing in both Wexford and Pembrokeshire in 2022.

The four artists are Seán Vicary and Linda Norris, who are both visual artists based in West Wales, and artist/archaeologist John Sunderland and writer Sylvia Cullen, based in Ireland’s south-east.

Linda Norris

‘Williams Leatham Plate’ from Cân yr Oer Wynt series, ceramic decal on vintage china

Linda Norris proposes to use ‘sherds’ or found pottery fragments as the starting point for her project, encouraging people to send sherds to her and locate them on an online map. She says:

“Far from the glamour of precious metal hordes or celebrated monuments, sherds speak of anonymous domestic stories and link us with the people who lived in our homes in the past. I propose to initiate a ‘citizen archaeology’ project in Pembrokeshire and Wexford, and extending into the Celtic Diaspora. I will be researching people who emigrated from these regions to the Diaspora in the 19th century and trying to trace their descendants.”

Seán Vicary

'Field Notes RAF St Davids'

Multi-media artist Seán Vicary recently discovered that his great-grandmother was born in 1874, just 3.5 miles from Ferns in Camolin, and he seeks to:

“Understand the forces that shaped me living here across the water from my great grandmother’s home. By excavating my own past, I’ll undertake a process that mirrors the archaeological and historical research underway in both communities”.

He will be discovering ‘hidden narratives’ in the landscape and creatively working them into an engaging personal travelogue that moves back and forth between Pembrokeshire and Wexford.

“Voice, text, music, film and animation will combine to evoke these places in an exciting, contemporary way; building a deeper sense of identity through sharing experiences of reconnection”.

John Sunderland

'The Shooting Hut' (Site 1, Visit 9) from the project 'Touching Darkness' (2019)

Trained archaeologist and visual artist John Sunderland will be undertaking a pilgrimage from Whitesands to Ferns and excavating found objects along the route for the creation of a reliquary alongside pinhole photographic work. Rather than approaching this like an analytical contemporary archaeologist, he hopes to examine his discoveries with a mediaeval mindset, paying attention to “the supernatural or the sacred, to questions of good and evil, signs or portents”.

Sylvia Cullen

Cover of Sylvia Cullen’s play The Thaw, commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland, produced by the Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, published by New Island Books, inspired by the people of North Wexford, South Wicklow and East Carlow.

Writer Sylvia Cullen proposes to create a bespoke new series of short stories for podcasts or livestreaming, drawing on “dramatic tales of piracy and bootlegging along the Welsh and Irish coastlines” and haunting tales of sacred places or a longing for home. She will also run creative writing workshops in both communities.

Watching these projects evolve separately and then ultimately weave together in a final presentation will be a journey of discovery for both the project team and our audiences.

Date: August 2020 – December 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections


Pilgrimage overview – rationale for a new route

Arts Project

Pilgrimage overview - rationale for a new route

Pilgrimage is an ancient concept; stretching back through history across cultural and religious boundaries, historical and economic spectrums, regardless of race or gender. It has been argued that pilgrimage fulfils a basic human need to reconnect to oneself through the simple process of putting one foot in front of another on the destination to a sacred or special place.

Ancient Connections is rediscovering historic links and ancient stories that connect the communities and culture of North Pembrokeshire with their counterparts on the East coast of Wexford. In particular, it is exploring the link between the city of Saint Davids and the village of Ferns, two significant sites associated with the early Celtic church. St Aidan studied in Wales with St David and after this he journeyed to Wexford where he set up his own monastery in Ferns.

St Davids has been a place of pilgrimage since the middle ages and still is. People are drawn to the area for many reasons for refreshment of body, mind and soul. It is recognised as a special place, a ‘thin’ place in Celtic terms, a place where hearts are opened and emotions are touched.

Modern day pilgrimage isn’t necessarily religious or even spiritual but an opportunity for reflection, connection and discovery; perhaps finding a new sense of purpose, direction and wellbeing. Pilgrimage in modern times is becoming increasingly popular with TV programmes such as Pilgrimage; The Road to Rome and The Road to Santiago. The Santiago de Compostella pilgrim trail, which was boosted through EU funding in 1987, has been a major success story with numbers increasing from under 3,000 per year to over 300,000 now.

A New Route - Wexford Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way

2023 will commemorate 900 years since Pope Callixtus II declared two pilgrimages to St Davids equal to one to Rome. This date and the Ancient Connections project are a launch pad from which to start building a pilgrimage route on both sides of the Irish Sea. Could pilgrimage/transformational tourism be as successful in Wexford and Pembrokeshire as it has been in Northern Spain?

Ancient Connections is working with the British Pilgrimage Trust to create the new route. In May 2022, the trailblazing Creative Camino pilgrimage took place, an experimental journey led by guides from Journeying based in Pembrokeshire and Wexford Trails. Traveling with them were a group of artists and community pilgrims, who responded creatively to the experience. 

The route has now been mapped and will be open to the public in 2023 for guided and self-guided tours. Currently, there are opportunities to trial the route on day trips led by experienced guides. Visit the website for more information on the route and how you can get involved

Date: Ongoing

Arts Pilgrimage

Creative Camino

Arts Project

Creative Camino

Ancient Connections is undertaking an experimental and creative pilgrimage from Ferns to St Davids in May 2022 – the Creative Camino. Four artists, four community members, a travel writer and a filmmaker will make the eight day journey on foot from Ferns to St Davids starting on 1st May and ending on 8th May. A documentary film will tell the story of their journey and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

The artists are: Bonnie Boux, Kate Powell, Suzi MacGregor and Ailsa Richardson

The project is teaming up with Journeying, a Celtic focused walking and pilgrimage guide company based in Pembrokeshire who are working closely with The British Pilgrimage Trust on the development of the new pilgrim route from Ferns to St Davids, which will be the main legacy of the Ancient Connections project and will be launched officially in 2023.

2023 marks the 900th anniversary of the granting of a privilege to St Davids by Pope Callixtus II, who declared that two pilgrimages to St Davids Cathedral were equal to one journey to Rome. It seems a fitting year to launch the new route! 

The route will encourage stronger links between these two Celtic regions, as well as attract overseas visitors in a sustainable form of cross-border tourism. 

 The British Pilgrimage Trust have created a mailing list for those interested in keeping up to date about the developments of this new route. Click on the button below to join.

The Journey

The pilgrimage sets off with  community celebrations and a world premiere performance of a traditional Celtic music piece (composed especially for the event). A fitting festive send-off for a group of pilgrims. Pilgrims will then make their way to Rosslare via Oulart, Olygate and Our Lady’s Island where they will take a ferry to Fishguard. Finally, they will walk the Pembrokeshire coast path along with some inland pathways.  They will reach their destination, the small city of St Davids, on Sunday 8th May where they will be given a glorious Pembrokeshire welcome. The pilgrims will be joined by a giant St David puppet who will lead the travellers into the grounds of St Davids Cathedral with a special choir procession. A spectacle to behold! The event is led by Small World Theatre . The artists will present an improvised performance to share the story of their journey and experiences along the way.

Media and Documentary

Throughout the journey, the experiences of the pilgrims as well as the beautiful scenery, heritage sites and wildlife will be documented by Llif:Flow a digital media company based in Angelsey. The stills and footage will be used to promote the project and new pilgrimage route concept across social media platforms and a short documentary film has been commissioned as promotion and legacy.

Follow the story!

Follow the pilgrims journey on our Instagram page which will be updated daily

Date: May 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections

In Partnership with: Journeying 

Project Outputs: 
Artist performances 
A Documentary film
Short media content for social media and still photos

Learn More at:


John Sunderland

Art Commission

John Sunderland

“Over the last three decades, I have led parallel and interweaving careers in visual art and archaeology. Through this, I have developed a transdisciplinary practice informed by research in the fields of geography, contemporary archaeology and art. I am a founding member of The Praxis Collective, an international group of artists and transdisciplinary practitioners seeking new ways to address contemporary issues through grounded theory and art/science collaboration. My current practice draws on deep mapping and the deep time of the Anthropocene to delve into the past, in the present, with an eye to the future.” – John Sunderland

Questions of Good and Evil

'The Shooting Hut' (Site 1, Visit 9) from the project 'Touching Darkness' (2019)

“I see the discipline of archaeology, the study of the material past, as a product of the enlightenment, with all its encumbrances of colonialism and material appropriation, it has developed into a highly evidence-based enquiry into materiality in many forms (ecological and cultural) and scales from the microscopic to the changing global landscape. 

In the context of this project, I find myself considering that these philosophies and methodologies seem at odds with what would have been the prevailing philosophies or theologies of the times that the archaeologists and researchers in Ancient Connections are investigating. This disparity is interesting when considering both movement and the sacred in terms of how someone in the medieval period might have responded to encountering something old or unusual in the landscape. We cannot truly know what went on in the minds of our ancestors but rather than deciphering materials and places in terms of classifications and significations of evidence, narratives may well have turned to the supernatural or the sacred, to questions of good and evil, signs or portents. Objects and materials may have evoked fear or reverence verging on the ecstatic.

In Search of the Uncanny

“Taking this into account, I will undertake a contemporary pilgrimage from one archaeological excavation to the other in St Davids and Ferns. To mimic the medieval experience of travel overland, I will cycle and walk, as cycling would mean travelling at a pace similar to a horse or horse and cart. The purpose of this journey is to make an immersion into the landscape in search of the uncanny, the supernatural and the sacred. It will begin and end with me physically excavating at each site (as an archaeologist). 

Taking an imagined medieval mindset as an inner world, I will project this onto the outer landscape through photographic practice, mapping, drawing and writing. I will also collect found objects of curiosity, from the excavations and during travel. A selection of these would be modified and placed inside a handmade reliquary. The central component of this practice will be photographic. In order evoke atmospheres of the medieval mindset, I will use a large format pinhole camera with 5”x4” black and white negatives.

The intention is to create a visual and written narrative of this journey, not to undertake the journey as a performance, but to use deep mapping principles to investigate a route, rather than a place.” – John Sunderland

Date: September 2020 – December 2022

Project Outputs: Photographs and handmade reliquary

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