Institute of Archaeology


The Pillar of Eliseg

Photo of the Pillar of Eliseg

The Pillar of Eliseg stands on an Early Bronze Age burial cairn prominently located at the end of a glacial ridge in the valley of the Nant Eliseg, near the abbey of Valle Crucis, Llangollen, Denbighshire. It marks an important route-way linking the Dee valley to the Vale of Clwyd via the Bwlch yr Oernant Pass.

The pillar is a fragmentary cross on which there was once a lengthy Latin inscription which was recorded in 1696 by the Welsh antiquarian, Edward Lhuyd. The inscription shows that the cross was erected by Concenn, ruler of Powys (d AD 854) to honour his great grandfather, Eliseg, who had expelled the Anglo-Saxons from this part of Powys. It was intended to be read out loud and was an important piece of public propaganda erected at a time when the kingdom of Powys was severely under threat.

Pillar of Eliseg location

The location of the cross, its reuse of a prehistoric burial monument and the overall wording of the inscription, which also links it with the Roman past, suggest that it was sited in a place of assembly and/or an inauguration place of the rulers of Powys in the late eighth and early ninth centuries.

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  • N. Edwards 2009: Rethinking the pillar of Eliseg. Antiquaries Journal 89, 143-77