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Croes Gwenhwyfar – Llangollen

In his writing of Llangollen, Edward Lhuyd tells of eight crosses in the Parish – without giving up their names. Still, it’s possible to identify several to this day, although there are challenges, and clearly, some have been lost to dust entirely.

One of the most curious is nothing more now than a memory, though one in living memory – it finally disappeared not in the swiveled-eyed madness of the Reformation, but rather in 1970, if you please. On the outskirts of Llangollen, on the A539 out of Llangollen once stood Croes Gwenhwyfar.

Having survived the Reformation and the centuries of neglect in its aftermath, the building of the Llangollen Canal that overlooks where it stood, Croes Gwenhwyfar was little more than a pedestal in 1970 when it was finally removed to who-knows-where by the farmer upon whose land it stood. It’s gone now. Recent works in the field found nothing – I was watching…

The name, of course, is suggestive, and a wander about the internet will throw up all manner of Arthurian connections – take your pick, they are ten-a-plenty. But, Gwenhwyfar is not actually that rare a name in north east Wales, or wasn’t I should say, at least if the sources are consulted. She may well have been of the line of Iorwerth Ddu of Pengwern, an ancestor of the Mostyn Family. If so, how she came to be attached to the cross, a wayside cross perhaps, is unknown. Still, its strange to find a cross so named – though Eliseg’s Pillar, a short ways away is another, of course.

And I can’t help but feel a little aggrieved – it was there not long since, after all. It may be that 50-odd years (and they have been fairly odd, at times) feels like a lifetime, but not to me. I feel as if I’ve just missed a train, and I’m watching the last carriage rattle away down the line…

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