This week marked the twentieth anniversary of the unveiling of one of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales, the Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan memorial statue in Llandovery.

It commemorates the landowner from Caio who was executed in a gruesome manner at Llandovery on October 9, 1401.

Ordered by Henry IV to take him to Owain Glyn Dŵr, the last native Prince of Wales, Llywelyn led the king’s army on a wild goose chase in order to save Glyn Dŵr.

Following his gruesome execution, Llywelyn's pickled remains were sent to several Welsh towns to deter the inhabitants from joining Glyn Dŵr’s army.

Llywelyn had become an almost forgotten figure and there is actually very little information about him. 

However, in 1998 Rhobert ap Steffan, a retired art teacher from Llangadog, envisaged a memorial to represent the virtues of loyalty and bravery and to reflect a ‘Braveheart’ theme.

A Memorial Committee was formed and Antur Cwm Taf/Tywi became the management body for the project. Committee members decided that the monument should be unique in its artistic concept and should be able to interpret Llywelyn’s story in a way that would draw people to Llandovery and raise the profile and image of the town. The project was managed on the Committee’s behalf by Antur Cwm Taf / Tywi (ACTT) of St Clears.


The statue in the workshop of Toby and Gideon Petersen

The statue in the workshop of Toby and Gideon Petersen


A design brief was sent to artists throughout Wales. Maquettes of five shortlisted designs were then exhibited at Llandovery Heritage Centre for two months, together with a book in which members of the community could indicate their preferences and express their opinions.

The overwhelming choice was the design by Toby and Gideon Petersen of St Clears. Their statue was unveiled on Saturday, October 6, 2001.

The stainless-steel memorial, together with its plinth and spear, has a height of 20ft and weighs 17 tonnes.

Recalling the event, the committee’s secretary, Michael Davies, said: “Without doubt, the unveiling was of immense importance to Llandovery. The town has gained international recognition on account of the statue, which attracts thousands of visitors every year."


. The seven-tonne plinth being lowered in position on the Castle Mound in Llandovery

. The seven-tonne plinth being lowered in position on the Castle Mound in Llandovery


According to the current Mayor of Llandovery, Councillor Handel Davies, the memorial has become one of the best-known features in the whole of Wales and has contributed enormously to the status of Llandovery.

“Llandovery and the statue have become inseparable in people’s minds. I agree wholeheartedly with the art critic who described the memorial as the most prestigious and stunning piece of modern artwork in rural Wales,” he said.