Every year, I take the MA Archaeology of Death and Memory students to the ruins of the Cistercian medieval monastery of Valle Crucis (Glyn y Groes), near Llangollen, Denbighshire. Previously, I’ve discussed its memorial and mnemonic dimensions, and we explored them again in this recent visit, including the displayed medieval gravestones, the recreation of the ruins as an ornamental garden in the late 18th century by Trevor Lloyd, and the clearance of the ruins in the mid-19th century, including the commemorative plaque to this process in the ruined nave.

I also showed the students the new heritage board about the Pillar of Eliseg. We couldn’t get internet access to download the Cadw app, and the students were rather sceptical about what it said, particularly the ‘This is our Land’ English title.

We noticed, in addition, a distinctive ‘memorial’ dimension: namely the scattering of red rose petals by the high altar. What might this connote? It is a memorial offering? A devotional one? Or simply to celebrate the spring? Is it pagan or Christian?

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