ARCHAEOLOGISTS at the University of Chester have embarked on an excavation to unlock the mysteries of an ancient and iconic Welsh burial site.
Alongside fellow specialists from Bangor University, a team of experts from the History and Archaeology Department is excavating the mound at the famous ninth-century Pillar of Eliseg, near Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen.
Named Project Eliseg, the venture aims to establish whether the site dates back to the Bronze Age and will use modern archaeological methods to investigate the mound on which the pillar stands and its setting.
Dr Howard Williams, senior lecturer, is one of the co-ordinators of the excavation and explained the aims of Project Eliseg.
He said: “We hope to find evidence of how the early medieval kingdom of Powys defined itself through its monuments. If the mound proves to be prehistoric in date, then the Pillar of Eliseg was situated to invoke the ancient history written upon it.
“Early medieval kings were competing with each other on the battlefield but also through monumental propaganda of this kind.
“Chester and Bangor students studying archaeology will be taking part in the excavation alongside local volunteers.
“As well as revealing important information about this exceptional monument, the project will provide archaeological training for the degree programmes of both universities.”
Professor Nancy Edwards, from Bangor University’s School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology added: “Investigating this enigmatic monument will help us to discover more about the emergence of both Welsh and English early medieval kingdoms on the borders of Wales after the fall of Roman Britain.
“We are trying to date the barrow on which the pillar stands, and understand the broader archaeological context of the ninth-century pillar.
“The site, which is potentially of international significance, could date back to the Bronze Age.”