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