Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

Eliseg’s Pillar

This our fifth walk from our guest blogger Julie Brominicks the author of The Edge of Cymru.  They are all accessible by public transport and each one will have a simple map for you to follow. We have another 3 planned for you over the next few months,  so look out for them on our social media channels. We want to inspire you explore our beautiful part of the world that little bit deeper.

Concenn itaque pronepos Eliseg edificauit hunc lapidem… – and so Concenn, Eliseg’s great=grandson built this stone…

Despite its illustrious Latin, Eliseg’s Pillar looks a little embarrassed nowadays, restrained as it is by iron palings on a Bronze-Age barrow which is itself surrounded by a fence in a sheep field. If you squint you can decipher Valle Crucis Abbey beyond the caravan site, but more prominent are the billboards advertising roast dinners at nearby Abbey Grange Hotel across the A542 on which traffic grinds constantly by.

The thirty-one lines of Latin inscriptions have eroded away. Luckily antiquaries like Edward Lhuyd copied the text in 1696, and travel writer Thomas Pennant wrote about it a century later. We know that Eliseg’s Pillar is the remains of what was once a much taller memorial stone that was erected by Cyngen (a local leader) in the ninth century to honour his great-grandfather Eliseg, who had beaten the Anglo-Saxons in a battle and expelled them from this part of Powys. Perhaps the inscriptions were meant as propaganda, to boost spirits, or to be read aloud at a place where leaders were appointed.

The poor old pillar has taken a beating. It was toppled, it is said, by Cromwell’s iconoclasts in the 1640s, who broke the cross off the top. Although the damaged pillar was re-erected (following Pennant’s visit) by an eighteenth-century landowner atop the Bronze-Age mound, there is no escaping the fact that it now looks more like a phallus.

The wintry walk here restores the monument’s dignity. From turbulent Afon Dyfrdwy, I climbed up and over Castell Dinas Brân (in an earlier structure of which, Eliseg probably lived), beneath Cregiau Eglwyseg – the crags which wrap the valley in a limestone embrace, and around Foel Fawr. Without summer tourists and foliage, stone is omnipresent in this landscape, with Eliseg’s Pillar at its heart.


Llangollen is a major stop on the T3 Traws Cymru service which runs between Y Bermo (Barmouth) and Wrecsam several times a day, seven days a week. It is also served by the Sir Ddinbych Council service 192 from Melin-y-Wig via Corwen, running twice a day in each direction, Monday to Friday. And the 64 Tanat Valley service from Llanarmon DC via Glyn Ceiriog, Y Waun (Chirk) and Froncysyllte, which runs six times a day Monday to Saturday.


This 7-mile circular walk includes some road walking and involves stiles and rough ground with one steep ascent and descent of Castell Dinas Brân. Gorgeous on a crisp wintry day, despite Valle Crucis Abbey being closed out of season, and quiet compared to summer, when Llangollen is congested. Best of all, winter brings fieldfares and redwings to flicker in the thorn trees which cling to the scree of Creigiau Eglwyseg as they gorge on the berry feast.

  1. From the bus stop, head for the bridge. Turbulent Afon Dyfrdwy beneath will hold you captive awhile. Cross the road and follow the waymarks to Castell Dinas Brân.
  2. If you want to avoid a steep descent, take the path around the bottom of the hill to your left. Otherwise, ascend to the spectacular ruins of this 13th-century castle, built for the princes of northern Powys.
  3. Join Offa’s Dyke Path on the quiet road beneath Creigiau Eglwyseg. It was Offa incidentally, who Eliseg fought off. This is a striking landscape. Note the limestone escarpment winding above, and flocks of fieldfares and redwings in the thorn trees.
  4. Leave Offa’s Dyke Path for the road bearing north-west down into the valley. Pass the Eliseg noticeboard.
  5. Then take a left onto Taith Clwyd following a stream into the woods. Cross the stream by the footbridge and over fields till Taith Clwyd meets the road. Turn left then right, still following the waymarks and signs for Valle Crucis Abbey.
  6. After passing a conifer plantation beneath old oaks, climb the metal stile in the fence, and take the steep slope down to cross Afon Eglwyseg via footbridge to the right of the caravan park. Keep on this hedged lane till reaching the main road. You can see Eliseg’s pillar in your field to the right.
  7. On reaching the A542 turn right and take care following the road a very short distance to Eliseg’s Pillar. When you are ready, retrace your steps back to Taith Clywd. Note Valle Crucis Abbey down below the trees to your right – it is not open in winter.
  8. Where Taith Clwyd meets the road, turn right to the canal then return to Llangollen along the tow path. If you have time to kill before your bus, Llangollen is bursting with places of interest and wonderful cafes. The Corn Mill has decking overlooking Afon Dyfrdwy.