THE Welsh government have been criticised over plans to build a large scale artwork commemorating the conquest of Wales by Edward I.

Last Friday, ministers unveiled the design for the Iron Ring, a 30 metre long and seven metre high public artwork that would form part of a redevelopment of the historic Flint Castle in the north east of the country.

The piece has been commissioned as part of Wales’s Year of Legends.

Critics pointed out that the only legend the Welsh taxpayer was celebrating was a very English one.

Flint was one of the first castles to be built by Longshanks in the 1280s, as he consolidated his victory over the Welsh princes and attempted to crush any uprising.

His colonisation of the towns saw Welsh peasants evicted from their lands, which were given over to English settlers.

The £395,000 Iron Ring sculpture which is due to open in 2018 will, the government say, represent “the relationship between the medieval monarchies of Europe and the castles they built”.

“Its scale and dynamic appearance means that it will become an instantly recognisable landmark for the area,” said George King, from George King Architects Ltd, the London-based firm which designed the ring.

Furious locals have baulked at the plans.

BBC Radio presenter and musician Cerys Matthews tweeted: “Agree that building an #ironring will remind future generations of Welsh children of their subjugation +this isn’t a positive thing #Flint”.

Writing on the website, Izzy Evans, whose petition against the ring has more than 3000 signatures, was shocked that the design had made it this far.

“Can you imagine any other nation celebrating its own conquest? Its own government glorying in its subjugation?” Evans asked.

“The only alternative explanation is no less unflattering: That no one at the Arts Council or the Welsh Government realised what the sculpture represented, which suggests an embarrassing ignorance of Wales’ history.”

He added: “The Welsh Government’s press release boasts that the sculpture will attract tourists to the spot where Richard II surrendered the crown to Henry IV.

“This is a continuation of an unfortunate habit in Wales of teaching history from our neighbour’s perspective rather than our own.”

The castles in the Iron Ring were, she added, built to remind the Welsh of their “colonisation”.

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd said: “The result of this ‘ring of steel’ and conquest by Edward I was to effectively make Welsh people second-class citizens within their own country.

“They were excluded from the walled towns that sprung up around the castles.

“It’s inconceivable that someone on the panel deciding on this matter would not have understood the symbolic significance of a sculpture that ‘celebrated’ our conquest.”

Gruffydd described the artwork as “insulting”.

He added: “I’m all for public art, especially work that celebrates and promotes the best of Wales but this sculpture is not doing that.”

A spokeswoman for the Welsh historical environment agency, Cadw, defended the plan: “These plans are about investing in Flint, increasing visitor numbers and growing the local economy. The proposed sculpture would also provide a unique opportunity to promote Welsh steel, as well as tell powerful stories that continue to shape our lives today.

She said they would ensure the words inscribed on the sculpture “reflect local opinions and the complex and often difficult history of Wales”.