Clun Castle with the witch and the greenman and a red kite

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Clun Castle with the witch and the greenman and a red kite

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Clun Castle Ruins. With the greenman and a witch and a grass fairy and a forest fairy. So if the greenman is down in the bottom right corner, where's the witch? She's a real witch, with a point hat and broomstick. She's not a cloud or a tree nor a castle. She's a witch. But a cunning witch.

Forest fairies are really hard to photograph, they're always hiding and you only see them out of the corner of your eyes. You get lens distortion there.

Grass fairies are easy to photograph, they're always drinking, two a penny, common as muck.

Do you see the witch? That's how they travel you know. Cunning.

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Signed art giclée print in a tube with data sheets

The Greenman
Protector of the plants, keeper of the cycle of rebirth

The Greenman legend goes back many, many centuries. Originally a pagan deity, he was absorbed into early Christianity and is depicted in many forms in books and churches across Europe.

He is a symbol of regeneration and is associated with rebirth and virility. He is strongly associated with the beginning of spring - a symbol of May time. Also known as The King of May, Jack the Green, John Barleycorn, even Robin Hood, and the figure emerges as pre-Christian symbol of the pagan Celts in the prehistoric forests of ancient Britain dating back to 400BC. The Greenman symbolises the end of winter and the beginning of spring and rebirth of life in summer.

Much of prehistoric Britain was covered in trees, the Celts and their Druids believed trees had souls & were revered as deities. The Druids planted & worshipped sacred groves & their magicians, warriors and healers prized these trees twig tops.

John Barleycorn - celebrated in song - shows the same themes of death and rebirth, as does the Green Knight in the Arthurian story of Sir Gawain. Medieval legends of the Wild Men - dressed in leaves, living in the forest and venturing forth to take food, have been connected with the Green Man. In some stories of Robin Hood - the robber and hero dressed in green - he attains godlike status and links with the Horned God Herne. Present-day Western pagan thought identifies the Green Man as the symbol of the qualities of godhood within the male, as well as being an expression of the cycle of life/death/rebirth and its relationship with the transcendent life-force, the Goddess, the female expression of divinity.

Some theologians like Rabanus Maurus (8thC) said the Greenman represented the sins of the flesh - lustful and wicked men doomed to eternal damnation. This seems to be a long way from the meaning he must have held for those who used him on the memorials to their dear departed six centuries previously. In fact, they continued to be used as tomb carvings long after church masons stopped using them inside their buildings.

The pagan festival of Beltane is the end of planting and the beginning of harvesting, around early/mid May. It also represents fertility, as the celebration often involves loosened rules for fidelity and good over evil. These days the Clun Greenman Festival is held annually in May; in a custom dating back just over a decade, the Greenman is confronted by Frostie, the Queen of the Cold, in the Battle of the Bridge (on an ancient packhorse bridge over the River Clun). If Frostie wins, then summer will not reach the Clun valley that year!

Clun Castle Ruins

Built on ice age rocks on the River Clun, in the Marches of Shropshire Throughout the Welsh Marches, numerous castles were constructed to symbolise the Norman domination of Britain & help keep the wild border in check

The remains of the 8o ft tall, four storey rectangular Great Keep to right of the motte, curtain wall centre, part of the round towers, left. Looking N.W. with the Clun-Clee Ridgeway just rising near far left

After the Norman invasion in 1066, William the Conqueror granted extensive parcels of land along the borders to many of his most prized subjects. These men became Marcher Lords, with the right to build castles and rule their lands as if they themselves were kings. The Marcher Lords still owed allegiance to the English monarch, but had the freedom to administer their feudal estates as they saw fit, much to the displeasure of their Welsh vassals.

The castle was started as a motte and baily wooden structure by the Norman, Robert ‘Picot’ de Say between 1090 and 1110 on land previously owned by Edric Silvaticus (Wild Eadric). The land had been devastated during Edric’s stand against William the Conqueror. Twenty years later stone replaces wood turning it into a typical Norman fortress.

The site was chosen for its defensive advantage and the presence of a natural rocky mound which could easily serve as the motte. It would defend the Welsh borderlands and monitor and collect tolls from the drover traffic moving stock to the Midlands on the Neolithic Clun-Clee Ridgeway and the crossing of the River Clun.

With the death of William Boterel in 1199 Clun castle reverted to the lordship of William Fitz Alan of Oswestry and he probably remodeled the fortress along the lines of Chateau Gaillard in Normandy before his death in 1210.

The castle was seized by John Fitzalan from the custody of King John in 1215. In 1233 the castle was garrisoned by the household troops of King Henry III as the loyalty of John Fitzalan was ‘suspect’. Late that year the royal garrison successfully withstood a Welsh onslaught led by Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, although the attackers did succeed in reducing the town to ashes.

During a period of minority the castle was held by a father-in-law of one of the several generations of John Fitzalans, Roger Mortimer of Wigmore Castle.

In the fifteenth century the castle was transformed into a hunting lodge by the earls of Arundel who had a horse stud here. They were probably responsible for the great keep which towers down the side of the motte to the north.

In the 14th century the Fitzalans, now the earls of Arundel, turned it into a hunting lodge and endeavored to make the village a productive place for the Welsh and English cultures to intermingle. The Fitzalans abandoned Clun Castle to focus their attention and wealth on the more impressive Arundel Castle in Sothern England. Consequently, Clun Castle fell into ruin.

Although Owain Glyndwr attacked the castle in the early 1400's, it was no longer the formidable foe it would have been two centuries earlier. After Glyndwr's assault, the castle vanishes from historical records.

The castle was in ruins by the time of the English Civil War of 1642 and never saw action.