When I can, I try to help out local societies giving talks and tours. I’m a member of Chester Archaeological Society so I was honoured and pleased to be able to spend today leading an intrepid group of other members to the Vale of Llangollen.

We visited the superb triumvirate of ancient monuments I’m reasonably familiar with: The Pillar of Eliseg, Valle Crucis Abbey, and Castell Dinas Brân. For my previous posts, please search this blog.


We discussed the archaeological evidence, historical context, and legends associated with each place, and explored also their current management and heritage interpretation.

At the Pillar of Eliseg, I was able to discuss the biography of the monument from the Early Bronze Age through the early medieval period to the present day as revealed by Project Eliseg, and also to reflect on the future of the monument.


At Valle Crucis, we not only discussed the architecture and landscape of the Cistercian monastery, but also the many funerary monuments, including the ‘Maruret’ stone over the 16th-century fireplace in the former abbot’s lodgings. I love its dragon biting a vine stem. We also identified many traces of the complex changes to the monastery from the 16th to the 21st century.Valle CrucisValle Crucis2IMG_20180428_111728

At Castell Dinas Brân, we investigated the nature of the design and the bias shown to discuss the walls and buildings and overlook the scale of the earth-moving and ditch-building associated with the late 13th-century castle. We also noted the stone messages left were there again, including one saying ‘I love Terry’s Chocolate Organge’. I personally do not like orange-flavoured chocolate, but who am I to object an other’s desire to mark the landscape in this fashion?


I also noticed evidence of ash-scattering again, – a practice I’ve noted before – this time over the rocks at the south-west corner of the castle: on the face overlooking the town. This is a very popular place for scattering the ashes of loved ones: the beautiful views are part of the story. Also, for anyone living in the town, they are always able to look up and see the place where their loved ones’ remains have diffused into the landscape.


I was also pleased to have a canine member on the tour, ‘Scamp’ – a Labrador/Alsatian cross (a German Sheprador) – joined the tour too.

Finally, I was delighted to meet the crow again, and couldn’t resist a Bran selfie!