The vast boggy floodplain created by the Afon (river) Prysor as it meandered along the foot of the Rhinogydd mountain range, acted like a sponge capturing gallons of water from the surrounding hills which then seeped away northwards into the Vale of Ffestiniog. This water was a valuable source of energy that could drive a hydro-electric power station at Maentwrog in the next valley to the north.
What a deserving place for a memorial to the fallen of the two World Wars. This testament to the 33 local boys who didn’t return from Flanders is a small tribute compared with the devastation wrought by the loss, on this small close-knit rural community. One of these was the poet Ellis Evans who left his sheep farm to fight at the front. Along with 250,000 other British soldiers, he fell at the battle for Passchendaele in 1917.
Six weeks later Ellis (who adopted the bardic name Hedd Wyn meaning ‘blessed peace’) was posthumously awarded the bard’s chair at the National Eisteddfod at Birkenhead. The chair itself was draped in black during the ceremony, and has since been known as the Y Gadair Ddu (The Black Chair). Whilst Hedd Wyn (Ellis) is the most famous, he is symbolic of all the lads who left their own empty chairs at home and fewer hands to tend the land.
Mae'r hen delynau genid gynt
Ynghrog ar gangau'r helyg draw,
A gwaedd y bechgyn lond y gwynt,
A'u gwaed yn gymysg efo'r glaw.
The old harps which once rang
Now on willow branches hang.
The cry of the lads fills the wind
As their blood mingles with the rain.