Last Warrior Standing?



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I have written about this magnificent  Welsh sculpture in more detail in an earlier post, Warrior Wind-Singer of Llyn, but I thought he/she deserved another viewing. This brave Celtic guardian surveys Cardigan Bay from the cliff top above Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, on the Llyn Peninsula. It is the work of local craftsmen Berwyn Jones and Huw Jones and replaces two earlier figureheads that met there doom there by fire and corrosion. It is known as the Iron Man of Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd, but as I say, I think it could also be a woman. After all, the Celts had fierce women like Buddug, known more widely today as Boudicca. She was  the warrior queen of the Iceni,  who took on the invading Romans.


I find the  figure very moving, the remnant twist of sinew and ligament after bone and flesh have been weathered away. In the spaces between, the steel armature gathers the sea winds and sings. A metaphor, perhaps, for Welsh culture – the bardic verses and sea-sounds of the language that outsiders find so hard to get their tongues round. And for those of you want to hear some Welsh being spoken and see some superlative Welsh drama produced by BBC Cymru Wales, then look out for Hinterland, (Y Gwyll in Welsh), the so-called Celtic Noir detective series. It is currently showing on the UK’s BBC, but it deserves to go world-wide.

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The winding cliff path to the Iron Man

© 2014 Tish Farrell


For more twist and metal follow the links:

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

Ailsa’s Travel Challenge: Metal

Warrior Wind-Singer of Llyn


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It is said that the Iron Man of Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd sings in the wind. I can believe it too: bold laments of long ago battles, a proud Celtic warrior fending off invading Roman governors and power-hungry English kings. Sadly, the cause was lost on both fronts, although at least these days Cymru,* Wales, has its own Welsh Parliament, and Cymraeg, the Welsh language, is nurtured, learned in schools and spoken widely with great pride. And so it should be. It is one of the world’s wonderful languages, the words formed from the rush of sea on rocks, the wind whistling down from the heights of Yr Wyddfa** (Snowdon, Wales’ highest mountain). Under past times of English domination much was done to stamp out the Welsh culture altogether. It is what invaders do – belittle, ban, override  heartfelt expressions of a conquered people’s culture.

{*roughly pronounced Kumree and Ur Oithva}


Llyn Coast Path, Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd


Recently I have been writing much about preserving and respecting heritage (Valuing the Past…and also Is the Past past saving in The Heritage Journal) but I recognise, too, that nothing stays the same – at least not in the physical world. The Iron Man is a case in point.


The first man standing was a carved ship’s figurehead placed there in 1911 by Cardiff entrepreneur, Solomon Andrews.  Andrews had bought the nearby grand house of Plas Glyn-y-Weddw some twenty years earlier and turned it into a public art gallery, the first of its kind in Wales. Today the house is the home of the wonderful Oriel Gallery, run by a trust, and the place where Welsh creativity is celebrated.

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Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw from Llyn Coastal Path


The ship’s figurehead did not fare so well. In 1980, after it had been set on fire by vandals, local artist, Simon Van de Put replaced it with a figure of an ancient warrior made from recycled sheet steel. As had been envisaged, the warrior , exposed to the sea winds, weathered away until only his boots remained. But in 2002 reinforcements arrived, delivered to the headland by a helicopter and winch.

Today this new Iron Man surveys Cardigan Bay with the kind of stance that says  he means to stay. In fact I’m not altogether certain that he might not also be a woman. This warrior, then, is the work of local craftsmen Berwyn Jones and Huw Jones.

To me the rope-like ironwork  suggests sinew and muscle. It is thus simultaneously  symbolic of both decay and regeneration; a rare act to pull off.  The tilt of the head is dignified, but wistful too. I would like to feel I have the courage to stand up behind this guardian.

I am not Welsh of course. As far as I can tell my ancestors were Anglo Saxons and Normans. But if we do not celebrate the best of our culture, our own and other peoples’, then think how much is lost – all those things that make us  truly well nourished humans – the poem, the saga, the dance, the metaphor, the hymn, the riddle, the rune, the touching words, the art – all that makes us recollect and care, confers insight and wisdom, gives us heart and good heartedness. For now though I take joy in the knowledge that when the wind blows across Mynydd Tir y Cwmwd (The Headland), even though I am not there to hear it, the iron warrior sings.


The cliff top path to the Iron Warrior


© 2013 Tish Farrell


For more on Oriel Plas Gwyn-y-Weddw


Frizztext’s WWW Challenge

And also: Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Sky