Spy Holes

There are 10 spy holes around the town. Nine of the ten spy holes are lit by natural light, and the tenth one in the door of the clock tower has to be lit by artificial light as it is in an enclosed space.

Each of the boxes has a title and each box tells a story (below).

The idea of representing a three-dimensional landscape trapped in a box has intrigued Fred Baier and Lucy Strachan. They have used photographs of Ruthin and the hills that surround the town. Placing the foreground near to the eyepiece and separating the individual horizons into the distance creates a strangely realistic view of the town and surrounding hills.

When Roger was a boy
Inspired by the childhood memory of Roger Edwards, Ruthin historian. Roger remembers Market Street being full of sheep on market day in the 1950’s. The livestock market was located in what is now Market Street car park, and the Wynnstay Road Market (now the Co-op) until 1991

A Hanging
A macabre representation of hanging based on a melange of two hangings. The Franciscan monk Charles Meehan who was the last person to be hung drawn and quartered in 1679, and William Hughes the only person to have been hanged at Ruthin Gaol in 1903.

A well known Ruthin folk tale about a scary wild dog with red eyes that hides in the woods on the outskirts of town. You will see the red glass eyes staring out at you from the box.

The Grey Lady
This box celebrates the ghostly figure of a woman who reportedly murdered her husband and who was then hung for her crime. She is said to walk the walls of Ruthin Castle. Her ghostly floating figure is built from etched glass.

In this box the artists wanted to use the doorway as an expression of travelling through time, space and history and also as a way to record the many beautiful doorways of Ruthin. Gateways and doorways are transitional objects that divide the public from the private and in the case of the boxes reality from fantasy.

Maen Huail
Based on the story of King Arthur and Prince Huail (son of Caw) who once fought over the favours of a lady. One version of the legend says that after the fight Arthur always walked with a limp, and when Arthur came to Ruthin in disguise Huail recognised him by his limp and denounced him. They began to fight again and Arhur threw Huail against the stone (now in St Peter’s square) and cut off his head.

Notorious Characters
The tableau celebrates some notable characters of Ruthin from all walks of life and all eras. The characters include Owain Glyndwr as well as characters from other eras. See if you can recognise any of them.

Reversing the action of using a spy hole in a door to look into the public realm this spy hole looks into a private space where you are the voyeur. We do not know what has been happening but there have evidently been some dramatic events.

In Memoriam
This box commerates the Ruthin men and women who gave their lives in the first and second world wars and in subsequent conflicts.