What do you get when you mix the 18th Century mansion of Plas Tan y Bwlch, the stunning Snowdonia National Park, a whole week to be creative and, on top of all that, first hand access into the minds of two leading heritage interpretation experts? You get A Way with Words.
After attending A Way With Words interpretative writing workshop at Snowdonia National Park Study Centre, I was delighted to be asked to write a Guest Blog for Tell Tale Interpretation.
Read on for a snippet of my guest blog and the haunting story of the ‘Black Chair’:
Guest Blog Erin Lloyd Jones writes about the recent A Way with Words course at Plas Tan y Bwlch, the Snowdonia National Park Study Centre and reflects on the power of words, bards and the Black Chair.
…As an archaeologist, I see it as my job to make heritage fun, accessible and understandable. I have been working in visitor experience and interpretation in the heritage sector for over a decade and think it is the best job in the world. I share with people the stories of the places: my aim is to get them as excited about heritage as I am.
Spending a week with interpretation experts Susan Cross and James Carter on the “Way with Words” course honed my skills and really got me excited about heritage interpretation again. It was a great hands-on experience with a lot of practical workshops, and the chance to work on real interpretation projects we had taken with us.
One of my colleagues was working on one of the most haunting stories in Welsh heritage and history.
Every year, the Welsh National Eisteddfod is held, celebrating the best of Welsh culture. It is Europe’s largest cultural competition, and every year the event culminates in the “Chairing of the Bard”. This is where a special chair, crafted by a local carpenter is awarded to the author of the best poem in Welsh verse.
The name of the winner is called out to the crowd, to make themselves known and receive their prize. But 98 years ago a name was called, but no-one replied. The winner, Ellis Evans of Trawsfynydd, or ‘Hedd Wynn’ to give him his bardic name, had been tragically killed in Ypres during the First World War.
The Eisteddfod chair was draped in black cloth and taken in procession to Evans’ home Yr Ysgwrn, Snowdonia. The Eisteddfod of 1917 is now known as the Eisteddfod of the Black Chair.
Yr Ysgwrn is now in the care of Snowdonia National Park Authority, and a replica of the kitchen of the small Welsh ‘bwthyn’ (cottage) has been created by local school children at Plas Tan y Bwlch. Alongside this display is a replica of the Black Chair, recreated in minute detail by 3D print under the guidance of the National Museum Wales.