I took my MA Archaeology of Death and Memory students to Plas Newydd, Llangollen, as part of our field trip around the Vale of Llangollen. Here, they were able to explore the mnemonic dimensions of the house and gardens that, together, serve to commemorate the famous Ladies of Llangollen. I’ve already discussed the various dimensions of the landscape here.

The house is itself an assemblage of old things, recreated for display as a tourist attraction and stripped of its later attentions. It bears woodwork deployed from elsewhere and gifts to the Ladies. It also bears the names of the Ladies on it, and thus connotes their remembrance, as much, if not more than, their grave in the churchyard of St Collen and the original memorial slabs that bore it now on display in Llangollen Museum.

In addition, there is a gorsedd stone circle, an early 20th-century feature I understand (although exact date I haven’t checked when writing this post), in the grounds, a medieval stepped cross, transplanted for who knows where. There is Lady Eleanor’s bower and other allusions to the literary aspirations of the Ladies throughout the grounds.

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On top of the ruined cross situated in the grounds, someone has placed an offering of flowers: croci.

Down in the dell, there are faux-medieval bridges, and there is also the fabulous grotto with a font, purported to have come from Valle Crucis, framed by a poem by the Ladies imagining medieval monasticism in romantic terms. Above the font, a moustachioed medieval-style head, perhaps reused from a nearby church, looms over the ‘limpid wave’. Actually, the ‘wave’ of the font looks anything but limpid but dirty and dark…

Summing up, the visitor today encounters a pastiche of medieval and ancient allusions in the garden of the Ladies of Llangollen, all overlooked by the looking ruin of Castell Dinas Brân. It is very much a garden of time, prompting reflection on times past, and yet somehow outside of the modern world.