Promoting an interest in the history of Owain Glyndwr, the Welsh Son of Prophecy, his life, times and society and his great Welsh War of Independence;also promoting causes today in Glyndwr's spirit and promoting the flying of the Glyndwr flag on Sept 16 Glyndwr Day.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Mori Opinion Poll commissioned by ‘History Matters - Pass it on’ Campaign.
2nd posting
Owain Glyndwr communicates
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Personal Statement by Siân Ifan Welsh Rembrancer and Heritage Enthusiast.
C.E.O. Embassy Glyndŵr and former Press Officer Cofiwn.

As I do every morning on waking, I turned on my radio the other day to listen to the early news and debates and heard the Mori Opinion Poll (which, evidently, had been commissioned by ‘History Matters') being discussed. For a short while I was misled into believing a ''Cymric Consciousness'' revolution had taken place in Cymru! My spirits were raised - believing that 500 years of ''historical amnesia'' and ''cerebral colonialism'' were to be swept away by the agencies in Cymru responsible for safeguarding and promoting our history. But, alas, no! on later reading the Western Mail and checking out the web, I soon came to realise that ‘History Matters’ was in fact an English ‘History Matters to You – Pass it on’ campaign sponsored and carried out by numerous English heritage bodies and, disappointingly, there was absolutely no sign that the similar was to take place in Cymru but, interestingly enough, I did find on the web the minutes of the fourth meeting of the ‘Heritage Environment Group’ dated 16 - 2 - 2006. This group was set up by the National Assembly to advise Alun Pugh, the Culture Minister on matters of ‘Heritage in the Environment’ and present at this meeting held at the offices of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cardiff were representatives of various Welsh based ''history concerned bodies''.

There is much in these notes that is of interest to myself and Embassy Glyndŵr but for this item I will just mention that at this meeting, Iwan Huws, Director of the National Trust in Wales drew attention to the aforementioned English Heritage/National Trust ‘History Matters to You - Pass it on’ campaign and suggested it be extended to Cymru - So why wasn’t it? Once more, English Heritage run ahead with the big initiative whilst Cymru chews the fat? Let me remind you all that It was ‘English Heritage’ that got English Battlefields registered whilst in Wales, little was being done until Embassy Glyndŵr Research Officer Gethin ap Gruffydd organised an ‘I’r Gad Welsh Battlefield Campaign’ to ensure that Welsh battlefields are registered ! Whilst not advancing as far as a register, ‘CADW’ has promised to produce ,at the least, a list of Battlefields for councils to be aware of. Further, RCAHM has proceeded to research Battlefields and the O.S. agrees more Welsh Battlefields need to be placed on maps. So what's the hold up? At this rate every Welsh Battlefield will become a windmill site, golf course, housing estate or roadway; plus the fact, of course, it is all less than perfect unless we do finally see Welsh Battlefields actually registered - as in England.

It is not my intention to be over critical as I know that both the ‘National Heritage’ in Wales and ‘CADW’ are doing a lot of good work. For example, CADW has been to the fore in organising Heritage Events at the castles of Wales and now also flies 'Baneri Glyndwr' from many of it's Castles annually on 16 September. CADW has also invited Embassy Glyndŵr to meet with them – which we hope to do this year as soon as we complete work on the prospectus that we intend to present to them however, in the meantime, I would like to draw the attention of the two above mentioned bodies and that of the National Assembly, now in charge of Welsh Tourism along with other various bodies generally associated and concerned with our history and heritage, of the need to think big. Now I will be critical and ask what's the problem? Why are so many afraid of Welsh History and why do so many use it as a ''football''? (For example of this, see recent refusal to fly Glyndŵr Flag by Blaenhoddan Community Council) why such immature attitudes by those who should take greater interest in promotion of our history but do not?

Here’s another example to prove my point : In 2004, the 600th Anniversary of the establishment of Senedd Glyndŵr and his Coronation there on 21 June 1404 was all but forgotten by the Welsh Establishment, the Assembly and local Authorities. Go on the web and compare the above with the Scottish attitude and enthusiasm re the 700th anniversary commemoration of the Coronation of Robert the Bruce this year and, o.k. lets not just focus on what may be seen as a ''Nationalist'' focus of attention, what about the 175th anniversary of the 1831 Merthyr Insurrection which included the 175th Anniversary of the rising of the ‘red flag’ on Hirwaun common on 31 May 1831 and the Massacre of the Castle Inn on 3 June 1831. I don’t recall seeing the Assembly's Labour administration, AM's or MP's or councillors fall over themselves to commemorate that historic event and anniversary with the same enthusiasm that the Paris Commune 1871 is commemorated in Paris annually? and It is rather sad that Wales does not have a festival to commemorate Glyndŵr as Scotland does for Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn, nor, either, do we have a festival to commemorate the radical people of ‘Merthyr Rising 1831’ as England has to commemorate the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

Why is this so? Partly, I would suggest that the Welsh are fast loosing memory of their history - for which there are many reasons. Its not simply down to ''zee wicked English'' it is much more complex than that and we must look as much to our own faults in the past as they, possibly, are chiefly to blame now. A big test I suppose will be how Wales shapes up to the 2007, 725th anniversary of the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd 11 December 1282 and the subsequent conquest of Wales 1282 - 84. Last time around, COFIWN made sure this was commemorated whilst many Welsh bodies then chose to forget - not least CADW who, on the other hand, found it fitting to spend our tax money on organising a ‘Cestyll 83’ festival during 1983 to celebrate the building of the Castles and portray the conquest from a colonisers point of view. Hopefully, next time around in 2008, we shall see a ‘festival of castles of conquest’ from the viewpoint of the conquered and colonised. In this respect, may I suggest to all concerned in such areas of history presentation to view America’s presentation in recent years of the commemoration of the ‘Lewis and Clark Expedition’. As everyone knows, Embassy Glyndwr’s brief is the promotion of Glyndŵr history, Glyndŵr Day, Glyndŵr Festivals and the Glyndŵr flag but, of course, we have a duty to act as ‘watchdogs’ and assist in the promotion of knowledge of all of our history and thus remind all that in 2009, we may commemorate the Gwent Insurrection and Newport Rising of 1839.

To conclude this statement, I would like to suggest that ‘CADW’ and the ‘Welsh National Trust’ commission a Welsh Poll on the matter of how many Welsh People know their history. I would also like to suggest further that such a poll should be devised as to ensure informative ‘feedback’ according to region, language, gender and age. I would note that a poll on ‘popularity of history’ would tell us very little as that is worlds apart from ‘knowing’ your history. Thankfully, due much to the efforts of COFIWN and Embassy Glyndwr many more people now know that 11 December is 'Dydd Llywelyn' and that September 16 is 'Dydd Glyndŵr' but I doubt if it can be honestly stated that the ‘majority’ of Welsh people know. A simple poll that all can carry out is to get out on the street and enquire the public’s knowledge of 1282, 1400 and also, whilst about it, 1831 and 1839. Then, ask about 1066 and see which is better known about by Welsh people. In this respect the onus of informing our people will be as much on the media as it is of the various bodies that come under the heading of the ‘HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT GROUP’

Of course I and others have been saying since the 60's that HISTORY MATTERS - and guess what, we have been active in passing it on ever since via COFIWN, Tŷ Cenedl and Embassy Glyndŵr plus campaigns such as ‘I'r Gad’ etc. Thank God many people were listening and willing to pass it on, that's why, come 16 Medi, you will see Baneri Glyndŵr flying all over Wales and the World except, of course, on the Owain Glyndŵr Community Centre in Waunceirch, Blaenhoddan.

Siân Ifan.
“Juratus Oweyn”


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