Archaeologists launch a new dig to unearth the secrets of Eliseg’s Pillar

Bangor and Chester university experts will begin excavations at the Pillar of Eliseg near Llangollen, Denbighshire.

It is part of work by historical monuments agency Cadw to conserve the mound and better explain it to people.

Last year excavations focussed on the mound, which was identified as an early Bronze Age cairn.

It followed on from one in the 18th Century.

Professor Nancy Edwards from Bangor University told BBC Radio Wales: “We are looking at the relationship between the pillar and the early Bronze Age cairn on which it stands.

“Last year we did an exploratory excavation just to uncover areas and see what might remain underneath.

“This year we are going back to the cairn to one particular trench because we discovered evidence last year of the dig into the top of the cairn in 1773.

Tall stone cross

“This was at the point where the pillar had fallen and the local landowner Trevor Lloyd decided he was to resurrect it.

“He did this dig and claimed afterwards to have found a stone cist with a body in and pieces of silver and things.

“Now I think this is probably all legend rather than real.”

There will be an open afternoon at the archaeological site on 16 September.

The Pillar of Eliseg was originally a tall stone cross but only part of a round shaft survives set within its original base.

It once bore a long Latin inscription saying that the cross was raised by Concenn, ruler of the kingdom of Powys, who died in AD 854, in memory of his great-grandfather, Eliseg, who had driven Anglo-Saxon invaders out of the area. 

The Pillar stands on a mound of unknown date and function. It is a striking landmark sited in the narrow valley of the Nant Eglwyseg, a tributary of the river Dee. It is located 400m north-north-west of the ruins of the Cistercian monastery of Valle Crucis founded in 1201, to which it gives its name (‘Valley of the Cross’).

Source: BBC News North East Wales

The Pillar of Eliseg dates from the 9th century and bears an inscription barely legible recording that it was erected in honour of Eliseg, King of Powys.


Sagas Artúricas: Versiones Nórdicas Medievales

Prologo de Luis Alberto de Cuenca
Traducción de Mariano Gónzalez Campo
ISBN: 978-84-206-5095-1
Alianza Editorial

La llamada materia de Bretaña, inspirada por las gestas del rey Arturo y otros personajes de su corte, constituyó durante la Edad Media un espejo en cuyas virtudes de honor, respeto al rey y cumplimiento del deber los miembros de las cortes europeas debían mirarse. Las del norte de Europa, especialmente la de Noruega y la de Islandia, no fueron ajenas a esta corriente y, a su manera, también hicieron suyas muchas de estas leyendas, adaptándolas a su tradición y su mentalidad. El presente volumen, ofrece por primera vez en castellano una selección de las más destacadas de las versiones nórdicas de estas Sagas artúricas, impregnadas del inconfundible sabor de las literaturas que tanto atrajeron a autores como Jorge Luis Borges o J. R. R. Tolkien.

Alban Eiler – “Light of the Earth”

Alban Eiler (“Light of the Earth”) is the first fire festival of the year, celebrating the return of the Sun and the vibrant rousing of life after Winter. Ancient Celts believed that on the Vernal Equinox, the light and the dark, the day and the night, both sides of everything, are on equal footing; thus is it a magical day of powerful possibilities, transformations, and discoveries. Push beyond the limitations of your darkness, your doubt, your private winter, and come out into the light. Plant the seeds of your future in the fertile matrix within. It is Alban Eiler.

The Goddess Eostre and Spring
Hares –

Symbols of the Vernal Equinox

The Conversation between Myrddin and Taliesin

The Ymddiddan Myrddin a Thaliesin (The conversation between Myrddin and Taliesin) is a poetic conversation between Myrddin and Taliesin, considered to be one of the Poems of Myrddin. It can be found in the Black Book of Carmarthen and, either in full or partially, in Pen. 26, Pen. 59, Pen. 54, Llanst. 119 and MA. 45. The date of the poem is difficult to determine, but A.O.H. Jarman estimates it to be around the end of the eleventh century. The poem can be divided into two parts, which differ from each other in metre and contents. In the first part of the poem, l. 1-22, Myrddin and Taliesin discuss the attack made by Maelgwn Gwynedd on Dyfed and the second part, l. 23-38, consists of prophecies concerning the battle of Arfderydd.

The conversation of Myrddin and Taliesin

How sad by me, how sad
that Cedfwy and Cadfan fell,
the battle was fiery and loud,
the shields were speckled and noisy.

It was Maelgwn who I saw fighting,
His war-band was not silent before the host.

Before two men they crowded together ineutur,
Before Errith and Gurrith on a pale white horse
Light brown horses came certainly,
Quickly the host will be seen with Elgan,
Woe for his death, they came a great journey.

Rhys Undant, a span was his shield,
To you came the blessing of the battle,
Cyndur was killed, beyond measure they mourn,
Men who were noble whilst they lived, were killed,
Three men of distinction, their fame was great by Elgan.

Over and over, host after host they came,
Yonder and yonder came to me fear for Elgan,
Killing Dywel in their last battle,
The son of Erbin and his men did.

The host of Maelgwn, it was brave that they came,
Soldiers of battle, brightness of the battlefield;
The battle of Arfderydd, that is the reason,
During their life they prepared.

Hosts of spearmen of bloodshed and slaughter
Hosts of strong men frail weaklings
Hosts when they are wounded, hosts when they are put to flight.
Hosts of their retreat, in their battle.

Seven sons of Eliffer, seven men when it is proved
They will not avoid seven spears in their seven divisions.

Seven blazing fires, seven opposing hosts.
The seventh one, Cynfelyn, every time in the front line of the battle.

Seven piercing spears, seven full rivers,
They will fill with the blood of the leaders.

A hundred and forty noblemen who went intro madness
In the Caledonian forest they perished.
Since I, Myrddin, am after Taliesin,
My prophecy will be just

A translation of A.O.H. Jarman’s Ymddiddan Myrddin a Thaliesin, 2nd edition, Cardiff, 1967

King Arthur: Pagan or Christian?

Arthurian Legend emerges from Celtic folklore, probably Arthur was a Celtic King or a warlord ruling a Celtic territory. Supposing who Arthur has existed in fact, around 5th or 6th century, certainly was a period where the society was quite influenced to rule in a Catholic mind. Knowing that all the Arthurian Lore consisted in oral tradition, monks passed to register this orally tradition through the writings, arising the tales. Eventually Roman Catholic writers, the only writers permitted, finally started writing the history of pre-Christian Europe. However, as Catholics under the full official censorship and ‘nihil obstat’ (nothing offensive to the Church), the bowdlerized versions contained obvious omissions and revisionist histories (nothing lasted about Pagan Solstice celebrations even though there are hundreds of Solstice monuments in Europe, for instance) and only strained glimpses into the real pre-Christian history. About 1160 AD, the Catholic French writer, Chretièn de Troyes, wrote a series of romantic Christian morality plays and grabbed the name of Pagan King Arthur and other 500 AD Pagan characters, put them into medieval clothes and castles and gave them Christian attitudes. This is the first of the modern romantic/Christian Arthurian tales. Following the same de Troyes/Christian romance formula, many other Catholic writers wrote romantic tales with Arthurian or Arthurian like elements in titular or background format. The most notable in English is Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (1485) which based his work in two sources: A Welsh source and other French, inspired in Vulgate Cycle whose creator was Chretièn de Troyes. The Arthurian tales have continuing background in Celtic and Pagan elements. The constant white horse is the Celtic horse/Goddess Epona, revered also by Pagan Romans, and used as a modern symbol by many corporations. The sword Excalibur, stuck in a boulder, will only be released when the Earth Goddess/Mother gives permission, represents a Pagan tradition. Excalibur must be returned to the “lady”, and is finally thrown into a lake, was caught by the “Lady of the Lake” and disappeared below. The practice to throw weapons in the lake was common among the Celts, and regarded a rite in Pagan Society. Llyn Cerrig Bach is a lake in the northwest of the island of Anglesey, Wales. Its main claim to fame is the large hoard of Iron Age materials discovered there in 1942, apparently placed in the lake as votive offerings. These finds are considered to be one of the most important collections of La Tène metalwork discovered in the British Isles.The intensity of these mythologies are very broad and make us to think about the concept of religion and in the myths and gods that these people believed, providing from their politheism, a pagan society kept a direct relation with their myths and gods and they were always presented during their festivals, ritualistic ceremonies, in the hunt, in the agriculture, in the nature and in particular life. The gods and their myths became timeless and they are alive and presentified in the beliefs and all the folklore that compound the British Tradition.