The Pillar of Eliseg is a popular theme of this blog. This unique 9th-century stone sculpture remains reconstituted but in its original location on top of a Bronze Age burial mound near Valle Crucis Abbey, Llantysilio, Denbighshire.
Recently, I visited with the students on the MA Archaeology of Death and Memory and we discussed the form, biography and landscape context of the monument from the Bronze Age to the present day.
This was the second MA group to visit since the new heritage board was raised in April 2017, so I was keen to see what the students made of it.
However, I want to briefly mention the appalling public access arrangements for the monument. In addition to the lack of clear signage, and despite the gate, there is no discernible path across the quagmire of the farm gates to the monument. My students really struggled, despite most being adept walkers, clinging to a barbed wire fence to keep their footing, in order to get across to the mound. Of course, I’m not objecting to the fact that the farmer is using the gate to access her/his fields, or the sheep are present, but that there has been no agreed access via a path to the monument in such conditions.
Once there, visitors don’t see the stile on the far side. This was by far the muddiest Pillar of Eliseg I’ve ever seen it: perhaps unsurprising given the recent weather. Recent snow and rain notwithstanding, it beggars belief that this is seen as adequate access to a nationally important ancient monument.
Still, on another point, I was pleased to see the latest addition to the roadside signs framing the approach to the monument. I wonder whether Eliseg himself might have enjoyed fish and chips (maybe turnips if not potatoes)?