Unpicking the mysteries of this early Christian cross
Erected in the first half of the 9th century in a prominent position on a Bronze Age burial cairn, all that remains of this cross is the rounded lower shaft. The inscription that decorates the pillar is weathered and unreadable today but we do know that this modest monument tells an epic story about Wales’s former rulers.
One phrase includes the names of successive rulers of the kingdom of Powys during the 8th and 9th centuries. Another reveals that the cross was erected by Cyngen in memory of his great-grandfather Eliseg, who was said to have expelled the Anglo-Saxon English from this part of Wales.
It’s thought that the carefully composed inscription, which includes legal terminology, was intended to be read aloud, to be proclaimed to an audience. Could this be where the ancient rulers of Powys were appointed? Is it a victory monument, declaring political ownership of land won back from the English, or vital propaganda at a time when the kingdom was under threat? Or all of these things?
The nearby abbey of Valle Crucis (‘The Valley of the Cross’) took its name from the pillar; families of the rulers of northern Powys were buried at the abbey church. Visit Llangollen Museum to see a replica of the cross of Eliseg’s Pillar.
Last admission 30 minutes before closing
Closed 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January
For further information, please contact: Traveline Cymru on 0871 200 2233 or National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50.