Today under Cadw stewardship, the Pillar of Eliseg is a fragment of an early 9th -century cross-shaft set in its original base upon a prehistoric burial mound near the ruins of the later medieval Cistercian house of Valle Crucis, Denbighshire, Wales. The cross-shaft bears a now-eligible Latin inscription commemorating the martial victories of Eliseg of Powys and honouring his legendary ancestors.
The inscription states the cross was raised by Elise’s great-grandson Concenn (d. AD 854). What, when, where, how, and why was the Pillar of Eliseg created, by whom? This presentation explores the story of one of Britain’s most important yet enigmatic early medieval monuments, presenting the results of archaeological fieldwork by Bangor and Chester universities (2010–2012) which revealed new insights into the monument’s life-history from prehistory to the present day. The entwined themes of power and faith help us to understand its construction and enduring legacy.
Howard Williams is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Chester and researches public archaeology and archaeologies of death and memory. He writes an academic blog: Archaeodeath. Howard is co-editor of the Offa’s Dyke Journal and former Honorary Editor of the Royal Archaeological Institute’s Archaeological Journal (2012-2017). His recent books include The Public Archaeology of Frontiers and Borderlands (co-edited with Kieran Gleave and Pauline Clarke, Archaeopress, 2020); Digging into the Dark Ages: Early Medieval Public Archaeologies (co-edited with Pauline Clarke, Archaeopress, 2020), Public Archaeology: Arts of Engagement (co-edited with Afnan Ezzeldin and Caroline Pudney, Archaeopress, 2019), The Public Archaeology of Death (coedited with Ben Wills-Eve and Jennifer Osborne, Equinox, 2019), Cremation and the Archaeology of Death (co-edited with Jessica Cerezo-Román and Anna Wessman, Oxford University Press, 2017) and Archaeologists and the Dead (co-edited with Melanie Giles, Oxford University Press, 2016).