John Fielding Memorial
On January 26th 2008 the John Fielding Memorial by Teucer Wilson was unveiled as part of the annual John Fielding parade. The John Fielding Memorial Sculpture was unveiled by The Worshipful the Mayor and a speech was also made by Paul Murphy MP for Torfaen.
John Fielding was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at the defence of Rorke's Drift during the Anglo-Zulu war in 1879. John Fielding, also known as John Williams, was 21 when he risked his life to save eight hospitalised soldiers. Fielding House used to occupy the site and John Fielding’s grave is located in St Michael's Churchyard, Llantarnam, which is opposite the new housing development.
The artwork is a single boulder of slate, polished, carved and letter-cut . The artist wanted the work to not only remember John Fielding, but also act as a tribute to the bravery of all those involved in such engagements. The work is respectful of the courage and bravery of soldiers, but also has an uplifting and poetic quality. It is a lyrical work which is suggestive of battle in general terms, rather than recording the facts of a certain battle.
The words are lines from a Welsh hymn called The Hirlas Horn:
Fill high the blue Hirlas!
That shines like a wave,
When sunbeams are bright,
On the spray of the sea,
And bear thou the rich
Foaming mead to the brave
The Dragons of Battle,
The sons of the Free!
The Hirlas Horn was a drinking-horn. It was long, blue and rimmed with silver. When not filled with the best Welsh ale it was also used to sound an alarm on the battlefield. A curved horn is carved in relief above the words.
On the back of the slate stone is a carved lion, which is a symbol on the Victoria Cross itself. The words “Yr hwn sy’n ddewr, sy’n rhydd” are also carved, - “he who is brave, is free.”
The artwork was commissioned by Torfaen County Borough Council but made possible through funding from Redrow Homes.
The work and unveiling features on http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/7028604.stm