Leader comment: Time no longer eases a symbol of oppression

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Staff Reporter

PERHAPS you need not be a fervent Welsh nationalist to see that the ‘Iron Ring’ sculpture plan for Flint Castle could be seen by some as one enormous public relations own goal.

Agree or not, but a great many modern Welsh people are seeing it as akin to being asked to celebrate their own subjugation and oppression by the English King Edward I.

Almost as soon as the plan was announced on Friday,  outcry and opposition has gathered pace with a sizable petition now set to wing its way to Welsh Government effectively decrying the very idea as an insult.

It’s difficult not to have some sympathy – as one social media commentator put it – ‘Welsh taxpayers are being asked to pay for a memorial to their own conquest’.

Others might argue that all this really was an awfully long time ago and that Edward’s terrifying castles are now as much a part of Welsh heritage as the original Welsh royal lineage they were built to vanquish.

However, we do live in a time of reawakened responsibilities in our own histories.

Monuments to ‘worthies’ who built reputation and wealth on dubious morality, on slavery or oppression are being torn down everywhere.

The passage of time no longer washes clean as it once did, no matter how long ago.

We suppose the clue is in the name – the English king did not build his frightening ‘Ring of Iron’ to please the Welsh. And Flint is where it all started – the first castle – just a day’s march from fortified and English Chester.

The planned sculpture, which could potentially stand 7m (23ft) high and 30m (98ft) wide will it seems symbolise a giant rusted crown.

It is said to represent the relationship between the medieval monarchies of Europe and the castles they built. We shall see how strongly the voices of dissent grow.

The issue perhaps highlights another matter currently in the news – the argument that states that Welsh history is not being taught effectively in Welsh schools. How many of us learnt in our history classes of Gwenllian, the last native princess of Wales and of her unbelievably sad existence. When Edward I conquered Wales, her father was killed in battle.

She was imprisoned for life in a Gilbertine priory in Lincolnshire.

By placing her there, she could never marry and produce offspring that could threaten Edward.

Gwenllian never learned to speak her native language and couldn’t even pronounce her own name correctly. She lived for 54 long years behind the priory walls before vanishing from the pages of history.

Perhaps that might make for a suitable sculpture somewhere?

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