Valle Crucis Abbey: An Excavation in 1970 By L. A. S. BUTLER, M.A., PH.D., F.S.A. with contributions by D. H. EVAXS, B.A. and G. 'v. W. BARKER, PH.D. Summary This report describes a small excavation undertaken in 1970 to obtain a full plan and sequence within the south and west ranges of the Cistercian abbey. Three main periods of medieval occupation were identified. The most attractive discovery was a fine mid- thirteenth-century carved sandstone head. The finds from the 1851 excavation, not previously published, are also discussed. INTRODUCTION THE Cistercian abbey of Valle Crucis was founded in 1201 by a body of monks sent from Strata Marcella at the invitation of Madoc ap Gruffydd Maelor. This house was set beside a swift-flowing stream, Nant Eglwyseg, a minor tributary of the Dee near Llangollen; it stood a short distance south of the ninth-century Pillar of Eliseg from which the abbey took its Latin name. During the thirteenth century the abbey was burnt and devastated, and this episode has left clear evidence in the architectural remains. The fourteenth century was a period of relative peace and the abbey prospered. During the fifteenth century the domestic quarters were improved, permitting both the abbot and his convent to enjoy a standard of comfort and privacy far beyond the intentions of the earliest Cistercians. The abbot responsible for the early fifteenth-century rebuilding after the unrest of Glyndwr's campaigns was Robert of Lancaster. He was appointed Bishop of St. Asaph in 1410 holding both offices in plurality until his death in 1433. He 'repaired the monastery after its destruction by fire' either before he became bishop or in the period 1410-19.1 This rebuilding is probably the renewal of the chapter-house and the remodelling of the east range. After the Dissolution the east range of the abbey was used as a private house and the two other ranges were occupied by farm buildings until the mid nineteenth century. The architectural history of the standing remains has been fully described by Harold Hughes.2 Archaeological examination and clearance, particularly of the church, was first undertaken in 1851,3 but other intermittent periods of excavation by H. T. Owen continued the clearance in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Only after the abbey came into the guardianship of the Ministry of Works in 1950 was it possible to embark upon a thorough policy of conservation. 1 C. A. Ralegh Radford, Valle Crucis Abbey (M.O.W. Official Guide Book), 1953; Cat. Papal Letters, VII, 117, 177. 2 Arch. Camb. 1894, pp. 169-185, 257-275; ibid., 1895, pp. 5-17; (herafter Hughes 1894 and 1895). Also Arch. Camb. 1894, pp. 215-220. 3 Arch. Camb. 1851, pp. 282-284 (W. W. E. Wynne), 328-331 (R. K. Penson); ibid. 1852, pp. 93-96 (W. W. E. Wynne), 276-282 (Viscount Dungannon).