Caernarfon Castle’s poignant autumn tribute

poppies-in-windowA dramatic and thought-provoking art installation entitled the Weeping Window was unveiled at Caernarfon Castle this month. The work, made up of six thousand handmade ceramic poppies, is part of a nationwide tour marking the centenary of the Great War of 1914-18 and is on display free to members of the public until 20 November.

Assembled in a stunning waterfall pattern gushing from the castle walls, the poppies have already attracted thousands of viewers keen to see this unique installation or pay their respects to the fallen.

The installation is a moving tribute to the many thousands of soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War as part of the 14-18 NOW programme. The aim of the programme is to utilise the poppy sculptures to engage new audiences across the United Kingdom. It is the hope of the curators that discussions about the legacy of the Great War will be the result of seeing the breathtaking but poignant tribute.

Thirteenth century Caernarfon Castle was chosen deliberately to house the poppies on this leg of their UK tour. The CADW-maintained stronghold forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site but it is also home to a museum charting the history of Wales’s longest serving regiment – the Royal Welch Fusiliers. The installation is being managed in association with Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Wales for Peace programme.

History of the installation

Caernarfon Castle’s Weeping Window and a second, entitled Wave, originally formed part of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Blood installation that so moved audiences at the Tower of London in 2014.

Seen by over 5 million people in London, the 900,000 poppies were removed at the end of November 2014 to commence a nationwide tour. Now the sculptures, created by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, are helping to highlight the legacy of the Great War to an even wider audience at selected locations across the UK until the autumn of 2018.

The poppies will end their tour at Imperial War Museums North and London, where they will be gifted to the museums in perpetuity.

Do dragons rumble in the deep?

Caernarfon’s unique display has been in the headlines for more patriotic reasons lately too. Since opening, the exhibition has received many comments about the arrangement of the poppies resembling a dragon’s claw. The similarity has made the installation all the more poignant for locals as the mythical dragon is also the national emblem of Wales.

Artist Paul Cummins said that it was a ‘happy accident’ that archaeological artefacts lying beneath the courtyard lawn had dictated where the poppies could and could not be ‘planted’.

Planning your visit

CADW expect the Weeping Window to attract more than 3,000 visitors a day to the castle during its stay so it’s essential to plan your visit in advance. This will avoid disappointment (especially during peak periods such as autumn half-term and Remembrance Sunday) and guarantee a great photo opportunity.

The installation is at Caernarfon Castle from 12 October to 20 November and can be viewed between 10:00-17:00 every day during the period. The Weeping Window is FREE to view but the castle has limited capacity. To ensure you get in on your preferred day, pre-book your tickets here.