Many of us look on the castles which dot the landscape of much of Britain with pleasure and even pride. They are part of our heritage. Why not celebrate them?
There are some people in Wales who see the many castles in the Principality as symbols of English oppression. Reminders of an unhappy past. They were not built to defend Wales or its people, rather to keep them in their place.
It is worth pointing out that the castles of England and Wales were mostly built by the Normans, who used them to keep all of us in our place, apart from those around the coast that were to defend us from overseas enemies, mainly the French. By the way, does that mean that they are an unwelcome symbol of anti-French sentiment? I hope that even after Brexit, we will be able to maintain good relations with our neighbours across the Channel.
For many people in Wales, however, whether of Welsh or English ancestry, and even those of Irish, Scottish, Italian or Asian origins, the castles have come to be regarded as “ours” – just as our history belongs to us all, even the unpleasant bits.
My hero, Frank, in the Accounting for Murder series of detective novels, is an Englishman settled in Cardiff and married to a Welsh woman born on a farm near Caerphilly, a town with a castle of its own with its leaning tower. You do not need to go to Italy to see one. Frank and his wife, Sian, both love Cardiff Castle as a symbol of their home city and its community. It is not something that divides them.
This picture is from another watercolour by George Dolman. It shows part of Cardiff Castle, seen from Castle Street, a familiar sight to most residents and visitors to the capital of the Principality. It shows one of the many elements rebuilt in the Nineteenth Century in a quirky but fascinating and distinctive style.