Flint Castle dominated the Dee estuary from its foundation in 1277. Previous posts have reflected on the heritage experience at Flint Castle:
- 2014 – review of the heritage experience;
- 2016 – discussion of the dragon sculpture at Flint Castle;
- 2017 – reflections on the failed art project to build a ring of iron viewing station.
I recently revisited Flint Castle to explore what new features were to greet the visitor. These are fivefold at least, but the fourth is the main point of this blog: the replacement of the temporary heritage dragon of 2016 with a heritage hound!
First, there is the new access to the north tower of the castle via a metal spiral staircase that mimics the route of its lithic predecessor. It affords impressive views over the rest of the castle, as well as the broader landscape setting on the Dee estuary, and the town of Flint too. This is a major improvement to the accessibility of the castle ruins. Well done Cadw!
Second, there is a new (at least I don’t recall it before) set of audio installations to narrative aspects of the castle’s history, at key points in the towers and within the inner word. These are fun and helpful as well as being solar-powered so potentially enduring.
Third, linking the castle to the broader landscape, there is a ‘castle walk’ taking you from the castle around Flint Dock. This helps to foster links between the castle and its wider environs, preventing its isolation as a medieval ruin from a broader landscape story.
Fourth, and the main point of this blog, is a new art installation in the outer bailey gateway, focusing on the links of the castle with Richard II and his hound. His beast apparently recognised the crown, not the man, and demonstrated its canine fealty to Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV) when he arrived at the castle. Having recently discussed Gelert’s Grave, it seems this is the latest addition to a Welsh canine heritage fascination. Meanwhile, Richard II looks rather sinister and deserving of being deposed, set forward and somewhat distant from his formerly loyal hound.
Fifth and finally, I want to reflect on the Union flag. Previously, the Welsh Y Ddraig Coch had been flown after some local disputes with Cadw. Is the Union flag now a permanent replacement. I bet there is all manner of controversy over the flag-flying in a Welsh borders context…especially following the 2013 petition to have the Welsh flag flying!
Anyway, returning to the focus of this post, I want to at least draw attention to another canine heritage attraction with medieval associations, in this case (in contrast to Gelert) linked to the English crown rather than Welsh princes, and linked intimately to the royal succession of Henry IV.