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Planning, planting and pupils at Wales' Centenary Wood

It’s been a busy time at Coed Ffos Las, Carmarthenshire, one of four Centenary Woods being created across the UK to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Recent activities have included planting trees, re-enactments, lesson planning and stone wall building, and there’s plenty still to come!

Unveiling Yr Arwr / Hero

In the run up to Armistice Day 2017, we revealed the centrepiece of the wood, a life-sized war horse sculpture with leaves of Corten steel on its surface that will rust and seal as it ages. The leaves chosen represent some of the trees used during the war for wood and timber: oak, field maple, alder, beech, willow and holly. The heart of the sculpture will be a horseshoe found on the site, probably from the former farm holding which once stood there.

Director of Wales, Jerry Langford introduces the war horse at the Senedd (Photo: Chris Matts)
Director of Wales, Jerry Langford introduces the war horse at the Senedd (Photo: Chris Matts)

The big reveal took place at the Welsh Parliament, known as the Senedd, combined with a week-long exhibition inside the parliament building. We also unveiled the name of the horse, chosen from hundreds of competition entries, as ‘Hero’, or ‘Arwr’ in Welsh. This name was inspired by the Welsh poet, Hedd Wyn’s famous poem of the same name. Sent home from the front line in France, the poem won him the National Eisteddfod Chair, but he had been killed in battle just a few weeks earlier.

Collaborating with schools

We also held our annual schools week, joined by staff from the MOTO in the Community Trust who attended to plant trees and unveil their grove post in the wood. This was funded by their kind donation of around £500,000 over the next five years.

The MOTO in the Community Trust grove post being installed (Photo: Chris Matts)
The MOTO in the Community Trust grove post being installed (Photo: Chris Matts)

Our activity provider, Green Steps, has been working with schools to help inform our interpretation designs for Coed Ffos Las and give some areas of the woodland traditional names. They even dressed for the occasion, taking on the role of the Women’s Land Army to talk about how women were called to the factories and woodlands of Wales to aid the war effort and how so many of our ancient woodlands were changed forever. This work will form part of the new audio and interactive waymarked trail in 2018, with permanent marker posts showing the names and designs of the pupils.

Local schoolchildren have helped with names and designs for Coed Ffos Las (Photo: Chris Matts)
Local schoolchildren have helped with names and designs for Coed Ffos Las (Photo: Chris Matts)

What's next?

To enhance Coed Ffos Las’ main entrance, new stone walls have already been constructed using reclaimed stone from the site. This work will continue in 2018, with more walls built as well as laying hedges and digging ponds as part of our Heritage Lottery Fund funded project. We’ll also be installing our war horse centrepiece and holding some big events as our Centenary Wood nears completion.

Help us remember and give thanks for the great sacrifices of the First World War

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