Corwen Cross, Denbighshire

Cross & Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SJ 0787 4340

Getting Here

Simple.  The church in the centre of the village across from the T-junction with the A5 is where it’s at!

Archaeology & History

Cross-base with cup-marks (from Owen, 1886)

At Corwen churchyard we find a number of curious old stone relics — not least of which is this seemingly 12th century christian cross, more than seven-feet tall, on the west side of the church. Not only does this have a curious history in itself, but the base on which the cross stands has what may be at least seven cup-markings etched on it.  These were first mentioned – I think – by Elias Owen in his Old Stone Crosses of the Vale of Clwyd, (1886) who wrote:

“The stone basement in which the (cross) shaft is placed is elliptical in form, with transverse and conjugate diameters measuring respectively 64 and 60 inches; it is 12 inches or so thick, is of a slaty nature and might have been procured in the neighbourhood… There are seven peculiar artificial depressions along the surface of the pedestal, strongly resembling the cup-markings which are found occasionally on the capstones of cromlechs, etc. They are irregularly arranged: on the north side there are three, almost in a line; and on other parts of the stone there are four of these marks. They differ somewhat from each other in size and shape, but they are for the most part circular, though one is more of an oblong than a circle. They vary also in depth, one being two-and-half inches deep, while the others are shallow. The largest is three inches in diameter; the others are not so broad.”

Owen makes note of a previous description of the Corwen “cross” by Thomas Pennant in 1784, where sounds as if this stone had a decidedly megalithic precursor. He told us:

“A most singular cross in the churchyard merits attention: the shaft is let into a flat stone, and that again is supported by four or five rude stones, as if the whole had been formed in imitation of, and in veneration of, the sacred Cromlech of very early times.”

Two other crosses are found at Corwen church – one of which has a decidely heathen legend attached to it. The Carreg y Big yn y Fach Rhewllyd monolith is also found here, in the porch wall.  A few miles east of here we also find another cup-marked stone, shown on The Old-Fashioned Antiquarian website.  Looks a good n’!


  1. Owen, Elias, Old Stone Crosses of the Vale of Clwyd and Neighbouring Parishes, Bernard Quaritch: London & Oswestry 1886.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian