The proposed ‘Iron Ring’ sculpture at Flint Castle is an insult to Wales

The proposed ‘Iron Ring’ monument at Flint Castle


Izzy Evans

Welsh taxpayers are being asked to pay £630,000 for a memorial to their own conquest.

It’s very difficult to come up with an alternative explanation for the ‘giant Iron Ring’ which is to be erected at Flint Castle.

According to the Welsh Government’s own statement: “The Iron Ring symbolises a rusted crown representing the relationship between the medieval monarchies of Europe & the castles they built.”

The ‘Iron Ring’ is, of course, the collective name for the ring of castles built by Edward I in order to cement his hold on the lands he stole from the Welsh princes.

Flint was the first castle in this ring of power – a chain of fortresses designed to encircle the north Wales coast and oppress the Welsh.

Its construction began almost immediately after Edward I began the First Welsh War in 1277.

Can you imagine any other nation celebrating its own conquest? Its own government glorying in its subjugation?

The only alternative explanation is no less unflattering: That no one at the Arts Council or the Welsh Government realised what the sculpture represented, which suggests an embarrassing ignorance of Wales’ history.

It’s clear however that the designers themselves, the aptly named George King Architects, understood its significance full well.

The Welsh Government’s press release boasts that the sculpture will attract tourists to the spot where Richard II surrendered the crown to Henry IV.

This is a continuation of an unfortunate habit in Wales of teaching history from our neighbour’s perspective rather than our own.


I’ve started a petition to ship this rusted crown to the scrapheap before it gets off the drawing board.

I have a passion for our history and I believe that anything that would be seen to commemorate Edward I’s castles in Wales is utterly disrespectful not only to our nation but to our ancestors who fought tyrannical rule, subjugation, and oppression.

The castles are already there to remind us of Wales’ colonisation. Any monuments we build from here on in should stand to increase our pride in our own history and of our ancestors who fought valiantly for freedom.

We have plenty of our own heroes, such as like Owain Glyndŵr, Llywelyn Bren and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. There’s nothing to mark Glyndŵr’s castle but a tiny information board with two paragraphs of text on it.

I believe it’s time that we start teaching our history, from our perspective. Future generations deserve to learn it, warts and all.

So how about we spend the money on a sculpture celebrating Wales’ own culture and history instead?

Such as John Meirion Morris’ internationally acclaimed monument to the drowning of Tryweryn (left).

Despite being far more visually interesting than a corrugated hula hoop – and a snip at £250,000 – it, tellingly, remains unbuilt to this day.

You can sign the petition against the Iron Ring sculpture here.

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  1. Shame you haven’t set up the petition to allow people outside the uk from signing it! As a Welshman who happens to live in Germany, I don’t have a uk postcode, so no signature. Lot of Welsh people living outside the uk, who I’m sure would be desperate to sign up against this disgusting “monument”, but don’t have the choice. I guess you’re confident you’ll get enough in-country signatures, but if you’re wrong …..

    • That really is a shame. Anyway, I’m Bavarian living in the UK, and have just signed. Every little helps.

  2. hmmm yes, very clear on the George King Architects link…

  3. I just don’t understand how this has been approved by government and arts council under this year’s ‘Land of legends’ theme!? They clearly don’t understand their own remit. There is no rusted crown symbolism here. We all know what the piece is called: ‘Iron Ring’. And we all know what that means. No! Any recent comments from gov or arts council?

  4. So insulting.It must not happen.

  5. Just put a UK postcode in. Put your mams address in.

  6. There’s no question that Cadw is involved, and is perhaps the agency responsible for commissioning and approving this insult. But it’s no more than we should expect .

    Last year Cadw tried pulling visitors into Caernarfon castle with a ploy entitled “1295 and All That!” a title that suggests whoever came up with it was influence by English history. It went on, “It’s 1295 and peace reigns in Caernarfon”, before asking us to imagine lusty English soldiers chatting up Welsh maids. (Which again betrays a certain, worrying mindset.)

    I did a screen capture and used it on social media to remind people that in 1295 Wales was in revolt, and Caernarfon castle had been captured by Madog ap Llywelyn’s men. Perhaps they were helped by the maids Cadw wanted us to believe were being chatted up by those English soldiers. Almost immediately Cadw pulled the page and put up, “Sorry, the page you were looking for is unable to be found”.

    This organisation, run by English imports, that employs English staff to run its sites, like Caernarfon castle, is not only ignorant of our history, it seems to take a perverse delight in traducing our past to promote a blatantly political message for today.

    Cadw should be regarded as a hostile presence in Wales, and treated as such.

  7. Singed the petition, and will be e-mailing my local Labour AM to complain – that should be interesting! Why is it that time and time again Wales is simply presented in historical terms as the place that England conquered? I’m old enough to remember the Cestyll ’83 fiasco that ‘celebrated’ pretty much only the Anglo-Norman castles, despite the existence of the significant number of native castles that were different in purpose to those of the Anglo Norman oppressors. They also happen to have been built in far more spectacular locations than their Anglo Norman counterparts. The Anglo Norman structures, whilst obviously intended to overawe, were carefully located to provide a defensible base to control and contain the revolting Welsh, It’s a pity that there isn’t more revolting in the present day, rather than the parchusrwydd that almost engenders our continued oppression.

    It may be that the oppression is nowadays seemingly trivial and petty, which makes one feel as if one is being also trivial and petty on challenging it, but this is deliberate. Why is it we have to ask to see a Welsh speaker when we seek out help or advice from public bodies? Surely it should be there without the need for asking? And not always from our supposed enemies treat to this continued petty oppression: those supposed to be our friends, or at least allies, can be equally oppressive in their comments, and their casual dismissal of our language. Even some of the best of them seem to forget that is they who are the (often welcome) interlopers, who should actually be accommodating to us, and not we to them. Sadly most of the bodies that make the decisions in Wales seem to be staffed and controlled by decision makers who have come to Wales as part of a career move, and that they have no ‘native’ bond with our small country. This doesn’t of course of necessity disbar them from having their positions, but in order to fulfill their roles in doing justice to our country they should be promoting our perspectives, as much for our own people as for the tourist. And at the same time taking advantage of a golden opportunity to deconstruct the narrative and inject a healthy dose of anti-colonialist education, to the benefit of all.

    This is a gross insult, but aren’t we at least partially responsible for this state of affairs ourselves? Why haven’t we got a pressure group that challenges those who insult us? But, rather than get angry and shout things like ‘How dare they’ we must rather subject these kinds of things to ridicule, even better if we can think of rude or suggestive names or associations for these supposed pieces of art – something that completely undermines the gravitas intended, and preferably turns it into an embarrassing joke so that the project completely backfires. The Celtic warriors of old used evidently to have a secret weapon up their sleeves, which was to line up, (presumably dyed head to toe in woad) and make faces at and ridicule the enemy, probably doing things like mooning and other rude gestures. I’m not so much suggesting that we emulate their actions, (though that would certainly make headlines!) but more their spirit.

    Any kind of action opposing these kinds of insult, I think needs to be based on humour, fun and preparedness to send it all up. Perhaps even street theatre that tells the story of why the Anglo Norman castles were built, and how they still exert symbolic power today.

    I can’t really think of anything other than calling this oversized rusty iron ring something like ‘The Giant’s Ring Pull’, (that’s my starter for ten) but I shall definitely be thinking about a more appropriate moniker for it, but I’m sure others can make plenty of other suggestions, the more ribald and rude the better!

  8. Beyond any Welsh issue this development should cause great concern to the Jewish community. Paying for all of Edward I’s castles led to the appalling expulsion and mistreatment of the Jews.

    • That’s a wonderful angle, especially given the Labour Party’s recent issues over alleged anti-semitism. I think that could hole the whole project below the waterline if it were successfully linked with anti-semitism, historical or otherwise. We need to remember facts like this, as it substantially changes what this Ring of Iron, (the castles themselves) represents, not only the control and suppression of the Welsh, but also the ethnic cleansing of the Jews from Britain.

    • Perhaps so, though it winds me up that 100 times out of 100 an antisemitic angle on a story like this will get more sympathy from the anglopresse than an anti-native one.

  9. CADW! Celebrate All Defeats of the Welsh. Ken Skates is not fit to be a Minister in the Welsh Government. He wants to turn the north into a suburb of Manchester and the south a suburb of Bristol.

  10. This is the biggest insult the English have ever slapped us around the face with and it is promoted by Cadw and backed by a Welsh government that are nothing more than puppets for the British and bradwyr to the Welsh. Carwyn Jones and Labour need running out of Cymru before they disrespect us and our heritage any more! This is it they have to go!

    We are the indigenous peoples of these lowlands, highlands and islands yet we are treated with utter contempt by the unionists and British government who it is now pefectly obvious are hell bent on the final push for ethnic cleansing of all Cymry.

    Promote this petition as many times and via friends and groups as many times as you can.


    For those outside the UK I have asked Yr Ymgyrchwyr – The Campaigners if they are putting together a global petition for those outside the UK to sign, or if they know of one already set up and can advise how to find it.


    • Indigenous goes a long way back, the indigenous people of Britain were the pretancs, and the whole of Britain known as Albion. I am mostly Welsh by ancestry but was raised in England. I understand how this monument is insulting but as a student of archaeology, but I find these arguments about the indigenous, and the “celts” insulting. The Celts were a culture in France and Germany, given where our invaders came from a little while back, Celts is a broad term considering DNA throughout Britain. History is changed in favour of nationalist values, the funny thing is, those of us in England, with pretty much the same genetics as all of the other mongrels in Britain dislike the government just as much as everyone over the borders. The Government has never been the people, or even the countrymen, just the few who like to control the many, regardless of apparent ancestry.

      • Morning Al,

        Not sure I understand why your Celtic heritage would be an insult unless you deny your Celtic roots, I guess? Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t know!

        To understand where we all are today we have to look at not only the history of these isles, but also the pre-history. When we do, we find a longer pre existing culture going way back toward the end of the last ice age which existed, it is now estimated, some 10,000+ years from the present. This culture was born here and developed here as farming did independantly, but with obvious influence through trade, swapping of ideas and small movements of people with mainland Europe and the Mediterranean. There were three main trading ‘zones’ the southern North Sea Zone (trading with Scandinavia and NW Europe), the Channel Zone the southern, now English, coast (trading with the people on the opposite side of the channel and inland into the east) and finally the Atlantic Zone. The Atlantic Zone was the western fringes of these isles from western Scotland down including Ireland, along, what is now the NW coast of England, Wales, Isle of Man, SW England, Brittany to NW Iberia. Perhaps not in complete voyages from Iberia to Scotland, but more than likely short hops along the coastlines. In my area of study, SW England (Dumnonia), we are finding more contact with the Mediterranean previously unknown or overlooked going back several thousands of years from the present. This is in the excavations of more harbours (for want of a better word) and tidal beachings most of which have been lost to natural erosion or through beiing built over. However, looking at trade routes, finds and transport of metals from here abroad and corresponding ones in return we are able to piece together a far more outward looking people and not an insular one.

        Okay, what has this to do with your reply? These lowlands, highlands and islands have been inhabited since the ice retreated (after the last glacial maximus) the people that first moved in as tundra turned to grassland following the herds of grazing animals from the warmer south and then east. It is these that were the firsts indigenous peoples to gradually settle these isles. With the last piece of land bridge disappearing under what became the channel a separate culture developed from that of what is now mainland Europe. Separate, but not isolated as I mentioned the three trading zones above were developed not long after. More channel going craft have been found in recent years proving this trade going back thousands of years before the Roman’s even existed.

        The three trading zones did mean that although these people spoke basically the same language it did change somewhat and so did their tribal ways, but they were basically one island people. Out of the western fringes came a lingua franca of trade which was used around the whole coastal areas and into mainland Europe and not the other way round as previously mistakenly thought. This lingua franca of trade became named, by a 17th century historian as ‘Celtic’ – a language not at first a definite cultural identity. However, since the various invasions of these isles the lowland and eastern languages of the Albiones was lost, but the western language remained. This western language was mainly the lingua franca ‘Celtic’. Since then that is how the language as opposed to other Indo-European languages has been labelled. Obviously, art and culture became defined under this label too.

        No one can deny that the lowland and eatern peoples were affected/influenced more culturally due to closer proximity to the continent and first hand contact, inter marriages, treaties, love and by other means, more than those in the west. Therefore, rightly more of a mixing of people happened outside of the western fringes to begin with. Since then many, if not most, of us throught these isles can hold our hands up and say we have ancestors from elsewhere, without a doubt. I know I have. Mine is based on research into my ‘family tree’ to see who’s sitting (or swinging) from what branch. The whole DNA industry, forensically is as accurate as it can be at the moment and does work, whereas those offering ethnic DNA testing should be avoided. This is still in its infancy and has a long way to go before it is anywhere near precise. At the moment there are many variables and problems with it and every time they solve one another rears its ugly head.

        The whole question of who anybody is, is a personal one that only the individual can know, decide and say. If someone is a recent settler to Wales there have as much right to call themselves Welsh as someone who can trace their ancestry back more than one generation. It is what the individual feels inside their heart, body and soul that defines who they are. I wil never argue against someones right to be who they want to be.

        After too many years of mental slavery, I feel we have to use a different rhetoric, different more precise terminology to break this familiarity of contempt that the British/English have for us as a nation and a people. I know that the major of English people don’t hate the Welsh or anything the like, it is purely and simply (and they aren’t knowingly being rude) that they do not even consdier us!

        And if that means we have to push home the fact, using what others see has harsh words, that we had something going before their ancestors arrived then, so be it.



        PS. The recent change in thought that ‘Celtic’ came from the western fringes of these isles and spread into Europe and not the other way around is based on recent evidence of archaeological finds, looking again at classical texts taken as read from antiquarian times and realising misinterpretations of some of these. Linguistics, etymology and more local research, more finds and re-evaluating previous finds in more areas of western Europe and these isles does put Celtic beginning as a lingua franca of trade and beginning in our western fringes.

        Further reading:

        Barry Cunliffe ‘Britain Begins’. Oxford. Also his lectures on youtube “Who were the Celts” from BYU, USA and “Celts from the West” recorded at #ZeeJLF2017 are fascinating to watch.
        Francis Pryor ‘Britain BC’. Harper Collins.
        Patrick Sims-Williams, ‘Ancient Celtic Place-Names in Europe and Asia Minor’. Blackwell.
        Stephen Oppenheimer, ‘The Origins of The British’. Robinson.

        (I’ll just mention Al, this isn’t light reading!!!)

  11. We already have a powerful symbol of the Conquest, at Cilmeri.

  12. A more appropriate monument would be to the many welsh people who had to leave their homeland for England and elsewhere because there was no future in colonial Wales.

    We have our Welsh names, but no understanding of the language, no record of when our ancestors left our home. It seems they were not important enough to record.

  13. Surely a mwmorial o Tryweryn is just as much a celebration of English domination

  14. The iron ring of castles in north Wales exist and are part of our history. They are also one of the most important drivers of tourism in north Wales. We can’t just ignore them or not promote them.

    They also offer an opportunity to debate the history of Wales and conquest. The inside of the sculpture is going to be engraved by words and sayings from the local community. I have no idea if they have been chosen yet, but they are the perfect opportunity for make visitors think about the purpose of the castles and their role in conquest.

    Instead, of sinking into the default “we’re all victims of the English” position, why not use the iron ring to celebrate the fact that Wales and the Welsh are still here. Conquest was not the end of Wales. In fact, some academic historians suggest it was conquest that united the Welsh. Until legal sanctions were placed on the Welsh after 1282, they were a collection of a different principalities, as much at war with each other as with the Normans. The Ring of Iron and the legal restrictions that accompanied it were key milestones in the making of the Welsh nation. There is no reason why the Ring and accompanying interpretation can’t tell that story too.

    The picture on this site does not do justice to the scale and nature of the ‘sculpture’, a word that does not capture what is being proposed. Have a look at the pictures on the architects’ website. It could be something an iconic as the angel of the north. It could be a chance to remind the world that we’re yma o hyd.

    • Ifan Morgan Jones

      I think you may be asking the average person to spend more time and effort interpreting this iron ring that the designers themselves have. The architects have made it clear that Edward I’s ring of castles is the inspiration behind the sculpture. Why should the Welsh interpret it as a celebration that we’re ‘still here’. The ‘Yma o Hyd’ message is itself a pretty depressing and backwards looking one. We should be able to celebrate our own history without having to interpret it through the prism of English history. That Edward I’s castles built 700 tears ago are still the main draw or tourists is in itself sad. We haven’t put our own stamp on Wales in the meantime. 🙁

    • I have left comments on this and other stories under the name Martin and would like to clarify I am a different person to the above.

  15. I find this ‘Iron Ring’ (or toilet seat) to be hugely insulting. The castle is statement itself to the oppression of the native peoples we do not need this type of reminder of the oppression we still face on a daily basis.

  16. I think you mean ‘no less flattering’…

  17. Yes, it’s tasteless, but let’s face it – it’s a big silly ring near a castle in an unpleasant and knackered town in the north. What harm can it do? I think people are reading too much into this.

    Where is the petition that the same area now has an English company running its water? Priorities people!

    • Your priorities JD are obviously not the same as ours so take your patronising comments and stick them up your arse if you can distinguish it from your mouth! Petitions, again we have a site that is dealing with all issues of foreign control.

      Yet again a faceless, no name troll that has more askin with the British and their rags by making sensational comments purely to be noticed than this, our only true free news and social comment media.

      • Not much of a truly free news and social media outlet if your countryman can’t comment without being insulted is it smartarse?

  18. Disgraceful!
    Celtic Baards Speak Out.

    And the Baards of wales would not give praises to the conquering Edward,
    instead, they spoke words of truth in poem and song made insolence by violence of the Crown and they were burnt at the stake for the truth they Spake.

    What principality this that burns its priests for speaking truth against the tyrant.
    The Baards of Cymru Eire Cornwall Bretagne, Syntagma & St Pauls reach out to us across the energy of reincarnated spirit and language Past Heroes deeds and words emulated to assuage

    As once the tyrant Tribute sought
    These new Caesars take all yet offer nought
    once more we offer Insolence in Poetry Song rhyme and reason to tell the truth, that’s painted Treason.

    Original Poem By Roger Glyndwr Lewis.

  19. The person/’s who came up with this sculpture has obviously a huge chip on their shoulder. Every other country on earth that has been colonised celebrates their independence from their invaders, we are quite clearly indoctrnated to see it as a good thing. That’s what poor history education does to you.

    • We ain’t yet independent… And if we rely on Plaid Cymru, we’ll never become independent.

  20. People need to read this letter by Llywelyn to Edward, a month before Llywelyn was ambushed at Cilmeri, by Builth Wells, his head cut off and stuck on a pike on the Tower of London with a mocking crown of ivy. Following Wales’s defeat a system of apartheid was brought in by Edwards to keep the Welsh down. People need to write to their AM and Cadw and press on this.

  21. Martin paid a malu cachu

  22. One thing that I very much wish fantasists would realise is that Wales today, it’s sons and daughters are all a product of our history. There is no sense nor purpose to revisionism, there is no benefit to denying who we are and where we came from. This is the land of our fathers and our fathers are not only the ancient Brythons or the Old Welsh on the outside of the walls of Castrum Apud Fluentlum but our fathers too are the Angevin Empire Normans inside the walls, and yes, even the Saxon labourers too! You cannot embrace your heritage without embracing it all. Our ancestors were both subjugated and subjugator. They were the castle builders as well as those who suffered the consequences.

  23. Clifford Jihnston

    The English will never understand your reasoning. They need to withdraw from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. After that, if any of them wish to negotiate a working relationship of any kind they can start from scratch with everything on the table for open discussion and any resolutions being submitted to the voters of all countries involved for ratification or rejection.

  24. Clifford Johnston

    Misspelled last name – read Johnston…rough day today…

  25. I’m not even Welsh and I think it’s insulting and am signing this petition.

  26. Put me down as an American with Irish lineage who is signing this petition.

  27. I understand the sentiments expressed, but I do think it’s all a bit one sided and parochial. There are Norman castles throughout Britain, Ireland, Northern France, Sicily, Palestine etc. It’s a part of our shared ancient history. We also have Roman forts and pre Roman ‘hill forts’ which would have been occupied by opposing tribes.

    South and central Wales didn’t have any issues with North Wales Norman castles because they were different kingdoms. It’s only history and we all know the history of our islands – one only has to watch enough tv to see the well documented stories laid out for all us armchair archaeologists and wannabe warriors 🙂

  28. Can someone explain to me the connection between Labour Minister Skates and CADW, please? It was suggested in a Facebook post that because Skates wanted to spend the money for this insulting monstrosity that we ought to boycott CADW. I’d really like to get some enlightenment on that score. Diolch yn fawr.

  29. Nation celebrating its conquest: see the American South and the tyrannical union.

  30. I’m an outsider looking in but I can clearly see the slur intended by this proposal. “The ‘Iron Ring’ is, of course, the collective name for the ring of castles built by Edward I in order to cement his hold on the lands he stole from the Welsh princes.”

    Think I would be a wee bit miffed at that also if the Scottish Government tried such a stunt up here. It’s all about keeping Nationalism in it’s box.

    I remember this from 2014 that the Scots too have friends in Wales, I thank them for their message, I thought it brilliant.

  31. Put me down as British (probably) of multiple lineage, including Welsh, and doesn’t care about harking back to some mythical mostly misunderstood past, like erstwhile Nazis in 1930s Germany, wishfully imagining we are all Aryans, Celts, Saxons or some such bollocks. Wales is fine as it is because it is part of a greater whole that works together to protect and develop all our interests. I quite like the proposed sculpture but I am not really bothered if it goes ahead or not. I am not a medieval Norman king and neither am I a thirteenth century Welsh peasant, or a usurped semi-mythical Prince – and neither is anyone else alive today: all those people are dead and have been for many hundreds of years. I could hark on about those bloody Vikings and their raids and taking the Danelaw, but I really don’t care, no more than all the dead dinosaurs that were here first.

    The past is another country, and they do things differently there

    • Mr Godsmark,

      This narrative is one that I have encountered several times today, with respect to this article. You do indeed articulate it very well, but I have to express an alternative viewpoint.

      Many historical interpretations as they are expressed and related in most of todays nations are of themselves no more than gross simplifications and fir many littered with complete falsehoods.

      The US is a prime example of manipulating facts to create a contrived commnon historical narrative from the founding fathers to the Lincoln address.

      The English have really worked hard to reinvent the narrative from a kernel of Victorian ideas to modernistic twists of the swinging sixties, while maintaining strong adherence to cultural historicities such as Shakespeare and Chaucer.

      Wales’ history and culture is certainly not uncontrived, but is unusually authentic to the traditions and aspirations of some of the known descendents of this land of more than 1000 years or so.

      I can’t claim to be such a decendent from those times and very few of us could, but the spirit lives on and will endure.

      It is not about genetics, but about spirit and ideals. The historical facts of the key players and events in the history of Wales are rarely disputed and these are important to many if not most of us.

      The most important point is being honest and true to the spirit of what we believe our nation to be, based on these solid foundations.

      Trivalising Welsh history, culture and bardic traditions – not just poets, but a general way of storytelling that so many seem to naturally posses, simply trivialises who we are and aspire to be.

    • D Godsmark,

      Thanks for your imput, it is accepted and appreciated. You be who you want to be and we’ll be who we are.

      Diolch yr fawr iawn! Thank you very much!


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  33. Surely the money should be better used.
    Sack the ‘brains’ behind this idea!!!!

  34. I can’t believe the Welsh Government are even thinking about this awful idea let alone asking us to pay for it. Put the money to better use, a lot of people in Wales are struggling today and they do not need a dreadful great big iron ring to remind them of struggles and oppression centuries ago. Let’s all hope they leave this insulting idea on the shelf and forget about it!!

    • Not being rude June, but where have you been? Our so called government are unionists, they hate our own people so much as to show pure allegiance to the English crown.

      They have wasted upwards to a billion pound on schemes that were ill advised and ill managed with little thought into their integrity, yet they sounded good.

      Llafur Cymru works for the British not our nation or people, take Aberfan for example. George Thomas and Harold Wilson demanded £150,000 from the relief fund set up to help the people, to help toward removing the rest of the slag. Blair, insulted the people of Abervan by returning the money which was £150,000 – and that is what was returned. It should have been the value of that amount those 30 years later.

      Our government insult us by being in power!

      Hope this helps explain things a little.

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