Torfaen Writing Squad

Ric Hool Big Pit

In May 2011 members of the Torfaen Writing Squad enjoyed a workshop with poet Ric Hool at Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon.

The workshop was part of the Written in Stone project, a community writing project exploring people’s interaction with the Blaenavon landscape which used the elements as the inspiration for a starting point for creative writing. This encompassed the geological make-up of the land that provided the raw materials for the technological advances pioneered in Blaenavon, and also the four classical elements: earth, air, fire and water – all of which were used in the industrial processes developed there.

The group had a short environmental walk around the site and the opportunity to explore Big Pit’s geological and fossil collection as inspiration for their work.

The Written in Stone project was based at the Big Pit and Blaenavon Heritage Centre and was a collaboration between Literature Wales, the National Museum of Wales, Head for Arts, Torfaen CBC and CADW’s “Cauldrons and Furnaces” Project. Links were also made with the Forgotten Landscape project based in the Heritage Centre.

In this first phase of the project, the work produced was presented as a performance and as a simple exhibition of words and photographs.


Stuck inside your shell,
You are mysterious prize,
Waiting to be found.

You wait day and night,
To be discovered and loved,
But you are not found.

You are discovered,
Cherished and loved by someone,
Until you get lost.

Cold and so alone,
You are lost and forgotten,
That is all you are.
Jake Sims


The veins of time itself,
etched into a tiny piece of stone,
this stone holds millions of years,
it is a key to the past
and a door to the future.

The skin and bone
of the world around us
the stream of ancient waters,
the height of majestic towers.

Nature’s greatest secrets
written in stone,
waiting, waiting, waiting
to be discovered.
Jackson Watkins

The Fossil

Clay-red slate with aged creases,
slanted sides and rugged frame.
Sharp and rough and dry
like a broken brick.


A pattern emerges,
floral imprints grow and spread;
splitting into veins,
smaller and smaller like petrified wallpaper.
Each leaf cuts in
and bulges out.

An intricate pattern on an angular slab.
Molly Crump

On a single stone
Nature leaves its mark,
And history is constantly writing itself
Into the notebook of evolution.
Mythical legends and well known stories
From a single stone.
Intricate, scale-like patterns,
And imprints of life, before our time,
On a single stone.
Coils of rope, and locks of mermaid hair,
Trapped in the ancient chamber,
Of a single stone.

Lying for years,
Under layers and layers of soil and silt
Is a single stone.
Just waiting,to be discovered.
Alys Smith.