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Ysceifiog Churchyard Cross

It was there, of course. It was hiding from me, I think, half buried amongst an encroaching mass of trees and shrub.  But Elias Owen was spot on, as he almost always is; ‘twenty-three paces from the Church, on the south side,’ he said, and there it was.


The cross in the churchyard of St Mary’s in the little village of Ysceifiog is a little gem.  Just over 3 feet of the shaft remains, a tapering octagonal thing, leaning a little to the south, now with a tuft of grass springing from the bottom.  Its base is a rather sizeable lump of freestone, worn weird in places, with curious, and fairly long incisions upon it and some small cup like indentations, which caused Owen to make comparisons to the Corwen Churchyard Cross.  Whether these cup like markings are more ancient than the cross is a matter of continued debate, and the deep incisions have been credited to the sharpening of arrows, pikes and even swords. The cross itself is, according to Owen, 15th century, and who am to disagree?


Part of the original headpiece for the cross has been discovered since Elias Owen wrote his article in 1886. It has been placed beside the shaft upon the base stone, a worn and battered fragment - a vague reminder of what once would have been a churchyard dominating cross.


Nothing is known of its history.  It must be supposed that it suffered the same fate as many other churchyard crosses - broken up and reduced to fragments in the sweeping changes of the Reformation.  But, unlike many others, Ysceifiog’s cross was not reborn as a sundial, since there is quite plainly a quite plain example of a sundial just to the west of the church - at least plain in comparison to the cross amongst the trees.  Perhaps it was forgotten and left to freeze and thaw - but we have what remains, and what remains is quite charming.

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