Archaeology, Mortality & Material Culture

Cosseted Students are Scared of the Dead? Disturbing Mortuary Archaeology

18zi5dIn a recent post, Dr Gabriel Moshenska of UCL’s course on 20th/21st-century conflict archaeology – ‘Archaeologies of Modern Conflict’ – has been derided in a Daily Mail articleWarning to archaeology pupils that ‘bones can be scary’ sparks fresh fears over cosseted generation of students.

Notwithstanding my jealousy that I have yet to acquire a similar badge of honour to Dr Moshenska’s in being criticised by a right-wing tabloid. Equally notwithstanding that this is a perverse case to focus on given that Dr Moshenska’s course focuses on a particular cocktail of potentially disturbing mortuary archaeology with forensic dimensions . The course in question is presumably (I confess I haven’t scrutinised the course content) focusing on very recent, mass, potentially fleshed/semi-fleshed, conflict death (among other themes in conflict archaeology). These points aside, such a course will undoubtedly attract students internationally (given UCL’s high profile and reputation) from modern conflict zones and those with military experience. In this context, the Daily Mail think they’ve picked a soft target but actually they have made themselves (as usual) look dumb and I would suggest they have missed the point.

Still, the Daily Mail article does touch on a legitimate subject that merits further discussion. Namely, for courses involving mortuary topics more broadly, when is it appropriate/ethical to pre-warn students of potentially disturbing content within a module or particular class? Should lecturers litter each lecture or seminar with trigger warnings every time they discuss or visualise death? Which categories of subject/image about death are disturbing and which are less so?

Let’s start off by stating clearly that accusing Dr Moshenska of ‘health and safety gone mad’ for being professional enough to warn students of particularly disturbing content is ridiculous. Whether at the start of the course, or at the start of particular lectures, a verbal warning of content as part of an Introduction, is an integral and appropriate way to engage and prepare students. The point is not that the content has disturbed anyone, and Dr Moshenska states clearly that no student has complained or had difficulty, but as a precaution, and as intellectual preparation for students, this is a fair and appropriate measure.

What do I do? I’ve been teaching courses on ‘death and burial’ in one fashion or another for 17 years in four different UK HE institutions. I don’t teach human osteology, but I do teach all manner of topics from human sacrifice and conflict archaeology, early medieval cemeteries, later medieval burials and tombs, and theories and methods in mortuary archaeology from prehistoric times to the present. And yes, I’ve taught students suffering from dying and just-dead relatives, friends and partners, and those who have served, fought and/or suffered in conflict zones.

Long before I knew they were called ‘trigger warnings’, I have made sure that I always explain and justify, prepare and contextualise the content of my lectures and seminars on mortuary archaeology. I never jump in and gratuitously use images or concepts, and if I do so, such as using dark humour, I do so not to shock or offend, but to challenge (intellectually) the student group and I always try to explain the contents of the image/issue’s use.

I don’t pre-warn on most occasions regarding images or issues, but it is important to make the point that university staff are always receptive to students who face problems or difficulties, and their circumstances might have changed and they might not be able to have predicted their response to course content.  The Daily Mail won’t understand that there are a number of layers to preparing students for course content in mortuary archaeology at most universities, including:

  1. Course title and synopsis can guide students clearly about potential content;
  2. Module handbook with week-by-week lecture topics given students the detail, weeks and months in advance;
  3. Assignment questions will also alert students to the issues and questions they are facing: these will be discussed repeatedly in class;
  4. Students usually have a range of essay questions and other assignments set, so they are never forced to engage with a topic that is particularly disturbing to them and can explore their own interests within the parameters of the module;
  5. Teaching staff will be available in person  in office hours to talk through any issues;
  6. Teaching staff will be on email to respond to any concerns or queries about content that is upsetting students;
  7. Each student with have a Personal Academic Tutor to discuss any issues with course content or delivery;
  8. Students get to fill out module evaluations and report via their set reps to Staff-Student Liaison Committees, if they have a worry;
  9. At my University, students are not penalised for failing to attend, or leaving, a single class; attendance issues are unlikely to be affected unless the entire course becomes a problem for the student;
  10. In individual classes, students are free to arrive late or leave early if a personal emergency or the nature of content is a problem: no-one is ever trapped in a lecture theatre against their will;
  11. If the student has a particular personal circumstance that has arisen between selecting the option and starting it, they might have the option to transfer to another course.

All of this will be lost on the Dail Mail and, perhaps, many of their article’s readers.

Of course, mortuary archaeology involves exploring ‘alien’ cultures and, for some, uncomfortable practices and ideas. It reflects and explores times and places with very different ideas and practices surrounding death to our own, broadly secular Western medical understandings of mortality. Conversely, archaeologies of death and commemoration are also concerned with problematising and exploring the emergence of our own weird and wonderful deathways. Teaching this should extract student’s from cosy cliches and banal euphemisms. It should be intellectually challenging; exposing students to the diversity, complexity, similarities and differences in how  communities and societies in the human past and present deal with mortality, dispose of the dead and commemorate their passing and legacy. Students should encounter disturbing and troubling topics, transforming and affecting their thinking and perspectives as a result. Hopefully, as well as engaging students with how archaeology investigates human societies through their mortuary remains, it will make them reflect on their own beliefs and experiences regarding death.

Should it traumatise and upset? Of course not, and I think that it doesn’t because of the range of strategies and practices that are set in place to ensure students can manage their own experience and respond to the content.

Still, the problem for a lecturer is that almost any dimension of archaeology, not just grisly, fleshy, violent, mass, child, disaster and conflict deaths, can trigger emotions and recollections of personal experience. A particularly distant, fragmented piece of human bone, burial or monument, might stimulate an emotional or psychological response from a student or students out of all proportion to that anticipated by a lecturer. Much of this is beyond the lecturer’s control and (I would argue) cannot be regarded as her/his responsibility.

Still, a good lecturer does have responsibilities to be ethical and sensitive. They should be aware and responsive to the student’s engagement with topics, and how they might be personally affected by the topics addressed. I’ve had to talk through issues about students who are carers for terminally ill husbands, students whose children, siblings, parents or grandparents have died, as well as students who face violence and life-threatening illnesses of their own. Being aware of such dimensions, and talking through concerns with them is not ‘cosseting’, it is being a professional and it is showing effective teaching practice. Whether conceptualised as ‘trigger warnings’ or not, mortuary archaeology is disturbing and will be disturbing, but it shouldn’t be contrived to upset and traumatise.

Courses in mortuary archaeology must tackle human mortality head-on to be effective in equipping students with the theories, methods and practices to investigate past deathways. However, any good teacher can do this without stuffing fresh corpses down student’s throats or picking at the scabs of students’ own personal tragedies.

All this aside, if the Daily Mail are taking shots at Dr Moshenska, I guess he must be doing it right.

The Archbishop’s Tomb at Rhuddlan

dsc05994Back in July, I was asked to show the Cambrian Archaeological Association around Rhuddlan. We explored the castle but also St Mary’s church, built with the Edwardian borough adjacent to the castle.

I hadn’t actually been around Rhuddlan with a group before and I’m not an expert. Hence it was a rather nervous trip for me!

Still, I did get to meet for the first time the effigial slab of Archbishop William de Freney. This monument is important for my research, as it is the closest parallel in appearance to the newly discovered ‘Smiling Abbot’ memorial, probably from Valle Crucis Abbey.

Dated to c. 1290, De Freney’s memorial slab was originally from the Dominican Friary on the other side of the castle where it had, post-Dissolution, become built into the external wall of one of the Abbey Farm buildings. His slab is now situated on the north side of the chancel of St Mary’s, and it has been chalked to make it more readily comprehensible to viewers in the dark environs of the church. I’ll leave others to comment on this practice of applying chalk to monuments…

The slab has received damage: a clear break along its middle. The surface is weathered through exposure to the elements too.

Regarding its design: Gresham (1968: 161) regarded it as one of ‘great restraint in simple incised outline. Indeed, it has the feeling of modest simplicity, despite the high status of its subject.

Around the edge is a script in Lombardic capitals: translated by Gresham (1968: 161) as:

Pray for the soul of brother William de Freney, Archbishop of Rages.

The figure is in vestments displaying his office, but he does not wear a pallium, presumably explained (following Gresham) by the fact that his see was taken over by the ‘infidel’. He was only a nominal archbishop who operated in England and Wales.

He wears an alb, amice, tunicle and chasuble, with a maniple from the left wrist. His hands are probably gloved (argues Gresham). There might be a ring on the right hand, raised in blessing. He holds his pastoral staff with a cross-head. He has winged cherubim either side of his head, and he wears a mitre, while his feet rest on a pillow.

Gresham explains how William most likely died c. 1290. He was possibly a relative (brother or nephew) of the Dominican friar Gilbert de Fresney, who led the first Dominicans to arrive in England in 1221. William was made nominal archbishop of the See of Rages by the Patriarch of Antioch at the request of Pope Urban IV in 1263. This was part of a process of conferring bishop’s titles on abbots and priors to assist bishops in their duties.

I like his big ears best; a repeated feature on very late 13th-century ecclesiastic’s brasses and effigial slabs. He’s awake, blessing and listening is this guy.



Gresham, C. 1968. Medieval Stone Carving in North Ales: Sepulchral Slabs and Effigies of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, Cardiff: University of Wales Press. pages 160-62.

What’s for Dyserth? A Fifth Helping

dsc01214A while back, I wrote a series of posts about the memorial landscape of Dyserth, including:

  1. church and its early medieval sculpture & later medieval monuments;
  2. its 17th-century canopied tombs;
  3. the churchyard’s 19th- and 20th-century memorials;
  4. memorials around the waterfalls.

In this final blog I noted that, not only is there a dog memorial beside the stream opposite the church, there is a memorial garden replete with commemorative plaques, including a millennium oak and plaque, in front of the waterfall. I posed the question and speculation:

Are dead people and animals are supposed to appreciate the sounds of water in the afterlife? As discussed previously, the aesthetics of memorials need not reflect a clear and singular vision of afterlife destination or the spiritual presence of the dead at these locations. Instead, within a Christian and secular context, I suspect they operate as ways of connecting the sensory experiences of the living with those anticipated/imagined as soothing or consoling for the dead.

My point was that I don’t think that there need be a single significance, in the modern world, to the commemorative significance of water, and waterfalls in particular. They can be regarded as ‘holy’ or ‘spiritual’ places because of imagined pagan or Christian (or both) traditions, or simply as places connected with renewal or contemplation.

I went back last November and identified some further dimensions to the commemorative dimensions of the waterfall. dsc01250I noticed that there is a memorial to someone who worked in the nearby shop: place linked in life and death.

Then I noticed there were also floral offerings at the falls themselves. Moreover, it looked as if more than one offering is being made, although it is unclear whether these are offerings to the same individual.

Was someone drowned at the falls? I quick internet search suggests not.

Was someone’s ashes scattered here? I suspect they were.

The Smiling Abbot – Part 2


The Smiling Abbot in raking light from the bottom-right

What a fun archaeodeath day!

First up, I did some work at home on the paper I am writing: a bit of a departure for me that has come from circumstances and enthusiasm; I’m writing up an article reporting and contextualising the striking recent ‘discovery’ of a fragment of an effigial grave-slab of a Cistercian abbot near Llangollen. I’ve reported on ‘The Smiling Abbot’ here.

The article is arguing that this is the first effigial slab of a Cistercian abbot from Wales, and a rare monument indeed for Britain. The effigial monument sheds new light on the significance of the Cistercian house of Valle Crucis – its most likely provenance – as an engine of commemoration – where high-quality and varied mortuary monuments were made and displayed – in the very late 13th and early 14th centuries AD.

After this writing and reading time, I drove to Llangollen to meet with my ‘partners-in-abbatial-archaeodeath-anarchy’ – Dave Crane and Gillian Smith. We met at the awesome Llangollen Museum to see the early 14th-century grave-slab fragment I’m referring to as the ‘Smiling Abbot’. I spent 2 hours taking new photographs of the grave-slab, which is on temporary display on loan from the owners. I then had the honour of meeting one of the owners of the grave-slab on my way out.


The ‘Smiling Abbot’, as displayed in Llangollen Museum

Re-visiting the slab and investigating it again helped me to refine and expand my arguments regarding parallels but also distinctive features of this monument: it truly is a fascinating monument from the false relief Lombardic Capitals to the smile and three-strand beard of the figure.

Valle Crucis

Researching the ‘Smiling Abbot’ has led me to realise that, despite many visits and many photographs, I don’t have really good pics and detailed pics of the stones on display at Valle Crucis Abbey. So I then went to the equally awesome abbey to photograph the spectacular collection of 13th/14th-century mortuary monuments in the monks’ dormitory and abbot’s house. Here is a selection of my pics to give you a flavour. I’m not a professional photographer, but these are certainly good enough for my purposes.

Back to Llangollen

After this, I went back to Llangollen for a scheming meeting with my good friend and yet another archaeodeath ‘partner-in-slime’ Sue Evans. Sue and I are collaborating on writing up 2 sections of a forthcoming monograph on Project Eliseg: exploring the biography of this early medieval cross situated on a Bronze Age burial cairn. Scheme, scheme, archaeo-scheme.


A very worn semi-effigial monument of an early 14th-century knight.


The grave-slab – according to Gresham the ‘finest in Wales’ – commemorating ‘Madoc fili Grifih’, great-grandson of the Abbey’s founder, and dating to the first decade of the 14th century.


In the dormitory at Valle Crucis

How long was the naked Viking’s snake?


The naked Viking with a second staff and snake – as envisaged by Prof Edwards

No, I’m not descending into ‘Carry On Archaeology’, I assure you this is a legitimate research question. Let me explain why.

Yesterday, I posted about the ‘naked Viking’ on face C of the Whitford 2 (Maen Achwyfan) cross, dated by Professor Nancy Edwards to the mid-late 10th century AD. This is a rare case of a Viking-Age Christian cross with martial figures, situated in its original landscape situation. Professor Edwards suggests that the ‘naked’ male figure holding an axe and spear and with a sword or seax at his left side, had a second weapon or staff by his right side. What Professor Edwards refers to as a ‘thick curling strand’ is probably a snake or serpent. It seems she envisages something like the photograph above.

But I must confess I have always seen him having a longer snake, like this:


I wonder whether the naked Viking only as a seax, axe and spear, and instead, he has a very long snake

But then maybe he has a severed snake, like this:


The severed snake – here showing a short-tailed version. There is a faint line linking the head and body of the beast, so this is merely a suggestion and its faintness at the point suggested might be a result of later wear and damage

The point is that this sculpture, relying on photography alone, leaves many questions unanswered. Relatively crudely carved, exposed to the weather for over a millennium, this naked Viking holds many mysteries that archaeologists need to explore further in future research. It matters because it changes what is going on and what the scene might represent.

Let me re-post the original photograph so you can make up your own mind just how long his snake was.


The Naked Viking


Face C of Maen Achwyfan with the naked Viking on view

There’s this cross I sometimes write about: Maen Achwyfan (Whitford 2) Flintshire. It is a striking and rare example of an early medieval monument, seemingly in its original landscape context. Work by Nancy Edwards and David Griffiths has done much to explore this striking monument through publications in the journals Church Archaeology and Archaeologia Cambrensis. See my previous posts:


Panel iv of decoration on the east-facing face C of the Whitford 2 (Maen Achwyfan) cross, showing the naked Viking

The definitive statement about this monument was only published recently (in 2013): Professor Nancy Edwards’ A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales Volume III: North Wales. Nancy regards his as a Viking Age monument dated to the 10th century: c. 925-1000. Similar circle-headed crosses are known around the Irish Sea in this century and nancy sees parallels on Angelsey, Deeside and the Wirral, as well as Chester itself.

One of the most striking elements, informing Nancy’s interpretation of the cross, is the striking martial figure on the fourth panel of side C. Nancy’s description is as follows:

… in the centre is a naked(?) male figure. He is shown face on and has a pointed chin. He has bent but raised arms and bent knees with his feet pointing outwards. He holds a long staff or spear in his right hand, with a second staff or weapon close to his body, and an axe in his left hand. He has a sword sheath on his left  hip. To the right is a thick curling strand which passes beneath his feet. Frasming the figure is a band of loops, some double-beaded, with a spiral placed centrally at the bottom.

Nancy then infers the following from this scene (and the others on face B):

  • the bearded axe depicted is a distinctively ‘Viking’ weapon
  • the figures finds no ready explanation in Christian iconography;
  • the figure is likely to be heroic or mythical scene from Norse mythology;
  • we cannot conclusively link the figures to any particular legendary figure, such as Sigurd, Gunnar etc

Now here is a close-up of the figure from a photograph of my own. I want to use this to discuss some issues with the figure that I’m not too sure about.

warrior-6-bwHere’s where I agree with Nancy:

  1. There is a staff or spear down the figure’s right side and it is clear he has his arm bent up to hold it (green);
  2. I can see a sheath for a seax and perhaps hints at a weapon itself by his left hip (red);
  3. I can see a distinctive bearded axe in his left hand (blue);
  4. He is a ‘male’ figure because there is a penis between his legs (although it just might possibly be the shaft of the axe extending below the body) (yellow).


I’m not sure about other dimensions.

  • Is the snake only below the feet and up the figure’s left side as Nancy suggests? Does it extend up to the bearded axe? Is the second weapon Nancy suggested by the figure’s right leg also part of the serpent?
  • I don’t see the forked beard;
  • Might the figure be looking to our left, not en face? 

Most intriguing of all, who is this ‘naked Viking’?

Archaeoden Update, Sept 2016

img_20160917_194717I’ve been preparing after the summer.

Work office

I’ve been preparing at my work office. Having recently returned from annual leave, and despite one colleague telling me my office looked over-stocked on books, I have been trying hard to get it sorted out and ready for a new term on research leave.

I’ve got through my back-log of PhD and MA admissions and supervisory duties and the work office is assembled for action.

I’ve got my ‘Walking Dead’ calendar looming over proceedings.

Home office

At home I’ve been preparing too. I’ve abandoned the former ‘archaeoden‘ in the corner of my son’s room and set up a small desk in my bedroom with a brand new, small but smart white IKEA desk (more allen keys acquired and utilised).

The Hobbit calendar for Sept is set to Thranduil, I have the twin screens ready to rock.

Yes, because while I’ve kept blogging, editing and working in prep for teaching when I return in February.

Research leave

In August I began the research leave, but I’m only starting on it now.

Research leave means… RESEARCH.

But what research I hear you ask? Well, I’m going to wrap up my last Archaeological Journal, I’m going to be dealing with the production of my next edited collection – Cremation and the Archaeology of Death

Then there is the new book proposal based on the Dead Relevant conference my third-year students organised in April.

On top of this, there is the ‘real’ research: wrapping up my work on Project Eliseg will be a key part. Finishing a joint-authored article on the Smiling Abbot needs to be done soon as well.

Then there is work on the Past in its Place strands 1-3, including articles to be revised and submitted, and chapters of books to be written up., funded by the ERC and incorporating a strand on English cathedral tombs funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

These are the projects that are current. I’ve also committed to writing a review article on ‘Mortuary Archaeology and Social Memory’. Furthermore, I have a long-running book contract with OUP to sort out a plan for completion: a study focusing on the archaeology of early medieval commemoration.

I’m sure there are other things I’ve forgotten right now too and who knows what other opportunities to research and write will come my way?

How much of all this will I get done? Who knows, but by Feb 2017 I will have been at Chester 9 years and I’m hoping to have a lot of my existing work commitments with a rigorous plan for completion.

Allen town

Well I’m waiting here in allen town,

For the self-assembly never found,

For the promises IKEA gave,

If I worked hard,

If I behaved.


So the furniture hangs off the wall,

But Billy never helped me at all,

No they never taught me what was real,

Brusali and Malm,

lost its appeal.

And I’m waiting here in allen town


Every child has a pretty good shot

To get the same furniture their old man got

But something happened on the way to that place

They threw a Swedish flag in our face.


And I’m waiting here in allen town

And it’s hard to keep a Hemnes down

But I won’t be giving up today…

And I’m living here in allen town…

with apologies to Billy Joel…


I made another trip to the Warrington IKEA yesterday.

I added further to my accidental collection of allen keys.

I’ve tried to dump as many as I can over the years, and yet still the collection grows.

Two purchases of collections of allen keys and many, many  free keys with self-assembly wardrobes, desks, bookcases, beds and the like, has left me over-dosing on allen keys. These represent somewhere in the region of 16 years of self-assembly furniture purchases. I exclude the allen keys for my bike.

So what?

Is this the achievement of modern late-capitalist home-ownership and living? Is this an assemblage that embodies the nature of modern society?

And what of me: what have I become? A hoarder of allen keys? Is this all I can ever hope to be? Maybe it will be a motif on my gravestone…

There’s a paper in this for the Journal of Material Culture, I just know there is.

Then again, when the zombie apocalpyse comes, I could use some of these allen keys to disassemble furniture to create blockades against the zombie horde. My hoard could beat that horde. I’ll be like Rick Grimes… but with allen keys!


The Evidence of Material Culture : Studies in Honour of Professor Vera Evison

volume-coverI’ve just heard of the release of a new collection on early medieval material culture, in honour of Professor Vera Evison, published by Mergoils. It isn’t seemingly on the publisher’s website yet, but it should appear here in due course.

The collection is in honour of Vera Evison, whom I’ve never met but whose work I’ve regularly used in my research on early medieval mortuary practice. I’m indebted to the editors for their hard work and I’m very excited to see the final collection.

The blurb reads:

The Evidence of material culture :
Studies in honour of Professor Vera Evison

Professor Vera Evison has made a major contribution to the study of the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England over a period of more than sixty years. Her publications include four monographs on early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, as well as a catalogue of wheel-thrown pottery from Anglo-Saxon graves. She is perhaps best known, however, for her wide-ranging studies of early medieval vessel glass, which culminated in a catalogue of the Anglo-Saxon glass in the British Museum.

In this volume Ian Riddler, Jean Soulat and Lynne Keys have gathered together contributions from 25 authors to celebrate the life and work of Vera Evison. From its outset, the editors have sought to place Anglo-Saxon sites and finds within a European framework, drawing in colleagues from France and Germany to echo the wide range of Vera Evison’s academic interests.The subjects extend from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery of Dover Buckland and other newly-discovered cemeteries in Kent to an evaluation of the history and archaeology of the Franks in Belgica II, alongside ethnographic comparisons and funerary trends for cremation burials, studies and reviews of early medieval glass, brooches, antler and iron combs, weaving swords and pendant crosses, as well as a re-evaluation of finds from older cemetery excavations and a review of recent advances in Bayesian modelling with radiocarbon dating and its application for the early medieval period.

Ethnographies for early Anglo-Saxon cremation

My chapter is an extension of previous arguments I’ve made regarding the challenges, but also the potentials, of utilising ethnographic data from around the world to provide insights regarding aspects of cremation practice in early medieval Europe, particularly early Anglo-Saxon England. In particular, in this paper I explore the potentials of applying ethnographies in more careful ways without presuming a direct imposition of historically particularist situations, or assuming cross-cultural generalisations. I look forward to learning how this is received, since in my view, ethnographic evidence is often largely ignored by early medieval archaeologists and historians studying mortuary data.

The Pillar of Eliseg from Llandysilio Mountain


The Pillar of Eliseg from the bottom of Velvet Mountain, immediately to its west


The abbey and Pillar, from the path above Britannia Inn

In previous and recent posts, I talked about the viewshed of the Pillar of Eliseg; part of a forthcoming piece I’m working on with Patricia Murrieta-Flores for the Past in its Place project. This builds on my work on Project Eliseg investigating the biography of this unique monument, located near the later Cistercian monastic house of Valle Crucis, near Llangollen, Denbighshire. Our article is due out in the journal Medieval Archaeology next year.


A view from Llandysilio Mountain

I’m interested in the interaction between the Pillar and its surrounding landscape, and describing its placement, upon an earlier mound, in the valley of the Nant Eglwyseg, required me to explore how the monument appears from afar. In a previous post, I went up the Nant Eglwyseg to see how it interacts with the Horseshoe Pass and far-end of the valley. Recently, with my new PhD student Abigail, I decided to visit Llandysilio Mountain to the north-west of the Pillar. As well as exploring the 19th-century tramway as discussed here, I took long-distance photographs of the Pillar of Eliseg using a digital bridge camera and tripod.


Valle Crucis Abbey and the Pillar of Eliseg

I hope you like the results, which at one level are self-explanatory. You can see from this perspective the nature of the mound, its position on the top of a slope, dominating lower ground to the south and east, but also the plateau to its west and north. I think it is also clear that any large crowd gathered and any ceremonies and rituals conducted here would have a large audience. This is a secluded and yet simultaneously. prominent location.

In terms of appreciating the Pillar’s situation in relation to routes of movement, it is evident that the cross was situated to punctuate the journeys of those leaving or entering the Vale of Llangollen via the Horseshoe Pass.


View south down the Nant Eglwyseg with Velvet Mountain in the centre, with Abbey Grange Farm at its base, beside which is the Pillar of Eliseg