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Nation Cymru readers baffled over mysterious figure captured in image of Welsh castle

02 Aug 2023 4 minute read
The large figured captured in an image published by Nation Cymru

Nation Cymru readers have been baffled by a mysterious figure captured in an image of a Welsh castle which appears to be desperately holding up one of the fortification’s ruined towers.

In a news article published this week about regeneration work set to take place at Caerphilly Castle, Nation Cymru included a photo of the stunning fortress in all its glory.

However, captured in the image of Wales’ largest medieval fortress was a huge figure with its arms outstretched appearing to hold up the famous leaning tower which has become an iconic feature of the castle.

One Nation Cymru reader wrote in saying she had noticed the strange shape in the news article image and has seen the “huge figure” holding up the tower when she passed through the town the day before.

Although from a distance the strange form looks like a large man doing his best to hold up the south-east tower, it is in fact a wooden sculpture depicting the 4th Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart who saved Caerphilly Castle from ruin.

The 20ft tall sculpture was carved by John Merrill using oak from the Powys Castle Estate.

“The Marquess” by Rum Bucolic Ape is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.


It was placed at the base of the tower in 2013 as a tribute to the Marquess who carried out major restoration works between 1928 and 1939 which included re-flooding the dried up lakes, and rebuilding a number of towers as well as the eastern gate.

At certain angles the sculpture appears to be comically relieving itself on the tower wall.

The castle was originally built between 1268-1271 by Gilbert de Clare using pennant sandstone. It’s thought that ground subsidence caused by the fortification’s water defences in the mid-seventeenth century is what has caused the tower to split and lean so dramatically at ten degrees.

The precarious looking tower out-leans the Tower of Pisa and visitors are encouraged to pose for pictures with their arms outstretched as if to stop the tower from collapsing.


The fortress is set to be transformed over the next three years as work begins on the Caerphilly Castle Regeneration Project.

The 13th century castle will benefit from extensive improvements to facilities, visitor experience and conservation – bringing a state-of-the-art welcome centre, brand new café, toilets and an education room.

£1m has been allocated to develop a new interpretative scheme – telling the fascinating stories of people who built and lived in the castle through the centuries.

Caerphilly Castle will remain open throughout the project, with some areas restricted, so visitors can continue to enjoy its heritage and history.

Initial work began on the regeneration scheme in 2021 with the necessary conservation of the Inner East Gatehouse in preparation for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project.

Phase 1 will see improvement works to the inner ward of the castle and will commence on 7 August 2023 and is expected to be complete by July 2024.

This will include the refurbishment of the medieval great hall, installation of visitor access paths and ramps, comprehensive new interpretation, and the construction of a wildflower garden.

Work will also be undertaken to conserve and open visitor access to the medieval watergate, which once provided access from the water’s edge to the medieval great hall.

This atmospheric entrance with its long-covered passageway has not been in use since medieval times.

During this phase of the project, the great hall, central courtyard and some ground floor areas of the inner ward will be closed to visitors.

Upper floors and wall walks will be open as usual but will require use of historic spiral stairs to see.

Once the regeneration of the inner ward is complete, Phase 2 of the project is expected to begin in Summer 2024 in the castle’s outer ward.

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11 months ago

He has been there a long time. Love the humour of it.

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