This curious stump is the remains of what was once a cross, possibly a wayside cross, marking the old route between Chirk and Llangollen. It is also possible that it is a boundary cross, which were used to mark ecclesiastical lands, and it is curious that should you continue on your way along the path towards Llangollen, you would eventually come on to the Tyn Dwr Road, and eventually to the junction of Birch Road and Maesmawr Road where, on the corner there, you will find the remains of the Croes y Beddau, which almost certainly was placed there as a wayside cross, even if its original purpose and position is not entirely clear, and which marks the boundary of Llangollen Abbot, the lands of Valle Crucis Abbey. Only the base of Croes Esgob now remains, and little else is known about its past.
However, a local tradition states that during outbreaks of plague, the socket was filled with vinegar. Coins for payment of goods which were left by the cross were left within the vinegar to sterilise them of the pox. The reuse of the cross for such a purpose would perhaps have given further reassurance to a people who were often told that the plague was an act of punishment for the transgressions of their community. While often called, ‘plague stones’, there is no record of such a name being connected with the cross base.
A famous example of this use of vinegar disinfected coins for payment of goods is from the village of Eyam in Derbyshire. Eyam isolated itself from the outside world on an outbreak of plague in their community, largely at the instigation of the Reverend William Mompesson. Nearer to home, the cross in the churchyard of St Edith’s in Shocklach, just over the border in Cheshire was used for the same purpose.
Croes y Esgob stands on the Ceiriog Trail linking Pengwern Vale and Chirk. If you have the time, do yourself a tremendous service and continue your walk through the Ty'n Celyn Wood - the views afforded you as you leave the conifer cover will find you browsing the windows of Llangollen estate agents.
The old path down towards Llangollen from the Croes y Esgob. It is to be hoped the tree borne registration plate is not all that remains of an off road disaster.