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The Pillar of Eliseg is an upright stone pillar-cross located within the boundaries of the Welsh medieval kingdom of Powys, in the Dee valley about two miles north of the town of Llangollen. It stands upon an artificial mound which, when excavated in 1779, revealed a stone coffin containing a body, though whose no one knows.

The pillar was erected in the first half of the ninth century by Cyngen ap Cadell king of Powys, in commemoration of his great grandfather Elisedd ap Gwylog who wrested Powys from the control of the English in the eighth century.

It is believed to have once stood as high as 18 or 20 feet high, but was pulled down during the Civil War and has suffered much damage over the years. Only about a half of the original remained when it was found lying in a field in the eighteenth century and re-erected, and nothing of the original inscrpition remains legible. Fortunately in 1696 by the Welsh scholar and antiquarian Edward Llwyd produced a transcript of the inscription (or what remained visible at that time) which has survived.

The pillar has attracted some controversy over the years, as it is similar in style to Mercian stone crosses of the tenth or eleventh centuries and the original inscription refers to the Angli or English, rather than the more usual Saxonici or Saxons. This has led some to belive that it was made sometime in the eleventh century and calculated to deceive, although for what particular motive no one has been able to explain.

That said, the balance of opinion seems to regard it as a genuine ninth century monument.


The translation of the inscription

+ Concenn son of Cattell, Cattell son of Brochcmail, Brochcmail son of Eliseg, Eliseg son of Guoillauc + Concenn, therefore, being great-grandson of Eliseg erected this stone to his great-grandfather, Eliseg + It is Eliseg who annexed the inheritance of Powys ... throughout nine (years?) from the power of the English, which he made into a sword-land by fire + Whosoever shall read this hand-inscribed stone, let him give a blessing on the soul of Eliseg + It is Concenn who ... with his hand ... to his own kingdom of Powys ... and which ... the mountain ... the Monarchy ... Maximus ... of Britain ... Concenn, Pascent, Maun, Annan + Britu, moreover, (was) the son of Guorthigirn, whom Germanus blessed and whom Severa bore to him, the daughter of Maximus the king who slew the king of the Romans + Conmarch painted this writing at the command of his king Concenn + The blessing of the Lord (be) on Concenn and all members of his family and upon all the land of Powys until (the day of judgement, Amen.)

Concenn being the Latinised version of Cyngen, Eliseg similarly being Elisedd.


SOURCES

The Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust website at www.cpat.org.uk and Vortigern Studies website at http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artsou/pillar.htm.

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