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Memorial Sculpture
Valle Crucis Abbey

Photographs Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Descriptions of the sculptures taken from the Cadw guidebook for Valle Crucis Abbey.


Below (2): views of the fine selection of sculptured grave slabs found in the dormitory of Valle Crucis Abbey.



Monumental sculpture in north Wales was first introduced from England during the second quarter of the 13th century, and from then until the conquest of Wales by King Edward I in 1283. After the conquest of the Welsh stone carvers gradually moved away from the current English styles and developed their own attractive school of memorial sculpture in north Wales, and some of the finest examples of this work have survived at Valle Crucis.

Below: (1) The mutilated fragment of a slab which has been trimmed down both sides for secondary use. The carving is well preserved and shows the lower part of a shaft which was probably surmounted by a floriated cross. (3) Fragment of a small tapering slab with part of an inscription bordering decoration consisting of curving and interlacing stems and leaves. (4) The side of a slab with part of an inscription bordering decoration consisting of curving and interlocking stems and leaves. (5) The top corner of a slab with an inscription around its border and a panel decorated with leaves and curling stems.



Below: (7) A long narrow slab, carved in relief with an expanded-arm cross decorated with three ribs on the arms and shaft which overlap at the centre. (8) A slab carved relief with an expanded arm-cross, the shaft of which is incised with the our line of a sword. Between the point of the blade and the foot of the cross there is a simple pattern formed of two sets of lobes side by side, projecting inwards and downwards.


Below: (9) A slab carved in incised outline and low relief with an expanded-arm cross, having between the arms four decorated circles, and on either side of the plain shaft a spear and sword.



Below: (12) This slab and the grave beneath it were in front of the high alter in the church. It is perhaps the finest surviving monument of this period in north Wales with the carving in almost perfect condition. A shield with lion rampart and surrounded by an inscription is placed in the upper half of the slab. A sword lies diagonally behind the shield, while a spear is placed vertically up the full length of the slab. The inscription reads "Here lies Madog son of Gruffudd called Fychan." Madog ap Gruffudd (d.1306) was the great-grandson of the founder of the abbey, and great-grandfather of Owain Glyndwr.



Below: (13) Fragments of one side of a large slab. A shield in the upper part of the slab has a lion rampart and was originally surrounded by an inscription, part of which survives. A spear divides the lower half of the slab into two, and on either side of it are scenes from a hunt. The surviving portion of the inscription reads, "Here lies Edward son of Iorwerth."


Below: (14) Fragments of a worn and mutilated slab with one of its top corners missing. A wide border containing an inscription ran round the entire slab, the upper part of which is carved in very deep false-relief with the head and shoulders of a knight together with part of his shield. This is generally taken to be the monument of Ieuaf ab Adda ab Awr ab Ieuaf, a powerful landowner in the nearby village of Trefor.



Below: (16) This mutilated slab has been built in as part of the post-dissolution chimney-breast over the fireplace in the abbot's private chamber next to the dormitory. It has been trimmed and part of its lower end is missing. An inscription, placed in a border, surrounds an area of decoration consisting of a vine-trail with large stylized leaves and bunches of grapes. Towards the bottom of the stone, the stem is held in the jaws of an animal, part of whose foot can be seen.







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Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas