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St Non’s Sound Walk

Brief for Creative Commission

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority invites submissions for a Sound Walk commission as part of the Ancient Connections cross-border arts, heritage and tourism project linking North Wexford with North Pembrokeshire. The total commission is valued at €14,000 to include fees, materials, travel, accommodation, studio time, scripting, production, editing, community engagement, technical solutions, launch event, marketing and any other costs. Collaborative proposals based on a number of creative practitioners/artists working together are welcome, but there should be one individual or organisation identified as lead contractor for the commission.

Deadline Tuesday 4th May 2021 5pm


Ancient Connections Logo

Outline of Ancient Connections and background context for the Commission

The project works closely with many stakeholders in both regions including in Pembrokeshire: St Davids Cathedral, Oriel y Parc, Journeying, Fishguard Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Fishguard Arts Society, Fishguard and Goodwick Town Council and St Davids City Council. In Wexford, the project connects with Ferns Development Association, Ferns Heritage Project, Wexford Trails, Waterford Camino Tours, as well as many community groups in both locations.Ancient Connections is an exciting three-year arts, heritage and tourism project linking North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales co-operation programme, led by Pembrokeshire County Council, together with partners Wexford County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Visit Wexford. The project runs from April 2019 to June 2023. The project is focused on 6 communities, in Wexford this is primarily Ferns, alongside Enniscorthy and Gorey. In Pembrokeshire, the communities are St Davids, Fishguard and Goodwick.

The project’s aim is to motivate the communities of North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford to rediscover their shared heritage through research, archaeological activity, creative arts, and storytelling and to be mentors for one another; sharing knowledge, experience and skills to create a stronger sense of identity and place that will continue to flourish in years to come.

For further information on the Ancient Connections programme and artists commissions see, visit the Ancient Connections website.


The Brief

We are seeking a creative practitioner, or practitioners, to work collaboratively with the local community and stakeholders, including PCNPA, to co-create a Sound Walk that will enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of St Non’s.

St Non’s Chapel and Holy Well near St David’s city in Pembrokeshire has for a long time been associated with the 5th Century Christian figure St Non, who is said to be the mother of St David, patron saint of Wales. This open access site on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, close to the city of St Davids, is traditionally held to be the birthplace of St David, the patron saint of Wales.

The National Park Authority seeks to promote active travel choices to St Non’s from Oriel y Parc in St David’s.  The vision is that the Sound Walk will give listeners the option of listening whilst moving through the landscape. But it will also be available remotely to listeners who cannot physically access the location, and offer an audio experience of moving through the landscape whilst listening to stories attached to it, that is not otherwise available elsewhere.

The aim is that the finished Sound Walk will enhance listeners’ understanding and appreciation of the link between the natural, wild and spectacular landscape setting and the place’s special spiritual associations. In common with Celtic Christianity, in our culture today we share a sensibility towards natural wonders. Water and stone are present throughout St Non’s story, linking the spiritual significance of this location to the ecological significance of the water cycle and natural landscape to our wellbeing today.

We are keen for the Sound Walk to be co-created with the community and include a variety of authentic voices, both from the locality, as well as experts, to tell the story of St Non’s and its landscape setting, layering local voices with environmental sound recordings from the landscape, stories and music. The project may offer volunteering opportunities for the local community, and the chance to gain experience or new skills.

The Sound Walk will be available to audiences as a download that they can listen to on their own device. It will be promoted using the National Park Authority’s website, and at Oriel y Parc, the National Park’s Discovery Centre, which is located within walking distance of St Non’s. There will also be the opportunity to promote the Sound Walk on a new interpretation panel near the site (which will be developed as a separate project and with a separate budget).

Local ownership, developing community and pride of place are important goals. We expect access needs and the equal status of the Welsh language to be taken into consideration in developing the Sound Walk.

We would like the Sound Walk to appeal to all interests and be in a style that will appeal to younger demographics as well as older ones. The topics and messages given below are meant as a guide, and may be refined and developed by the creative practitioners in the course of co-creating the Sound Walk with the project’s participants.


Interpretation Objectives

We would like audiences to learn:

  • About the long history of the site’s spiritual significance, which probably dates back to prehistoric times, the legends, characters and stories attached to this place
  • About the relationships and connections between geographical areas connected by the sea
  • About the landscape’s development and use through time, including:
    • geological deep time and the significance of the water cycle
    • prehistoric enclosure/monument
    • the Medieval chapel
    • place of pilgrimage
    • past modes of transportation i.e. on foot, by sea, on horseback
    • post-Reformation change of use to vegetable garden and farmland
    • the development of the modern retreat
    • the significance of the modern Coast Path, a pioneering long-distance footpath and leisure amenity
    • the coastal strip’s significance for wildflowers, pollinators and wildlife conservation today
    • the significance of this landscape for local people today
    • Understand the National Park Authority’s role in caring for and understanding this landscape
    • Understand the implications of climate change for coastal landscapes and special locations like this
  • Local community co-creators in the project will gain new heritage and storytelling skills


We would like audiences to feel:

  • The health and wellbeing benefits of enjoying the wild beauty of the coastal landscape
  • A sense of connection to the lives, experiences and beliefs of people in the past, as well as to St Davids communities today
  • Inspired and motivated to care for this special place and landscape, both in the sense of treating the site with respect, but also by considering the wider impact aspect of lifestyle and behavioural choices on the landscape
  • Local community members feel better connected and a pride of place through participating in telling the story of St Non’s


Things we would like audiences to do:

  • Make active travel choices when visiting St Non’s i.e. be encouraged to arrive on foot
  • Tread lightly and make sustainable lifestyle choices
  • Become active citizens through volunteering on the project

By meeting the above objectives the project will contribute to achieving the National Park Authority’s wellbeing objectives.


Topics and Messages

1. Topics

  • Geology of the location, and origins of the volcanic tuff and sandstones
  • How springs form, the water cycle and the legend that the waters of the well rise and fall with the tide
  • The significance of Springs for hunter gatherers in the Mesolithic period, followed by later prehistoric settlement and enclosure
  • The figure of St Non – who she was and what her story represents
  • The dramatic story of the birth of St David, during a thunderstorm, when the stones are said to have parted to protect Non, and the spring is said to have burst forth
  • Ideas about the location of the stones of St Non, and the origin of the story about Non grasping the rocks leaving her fingerprints in the stones
  • The significance of these stories to religion and national identity in Wales
  • Early travel by sea, and connections to other Celtic regions through the stories of St Non and St David
  • Chapels are the sites of possible landing and embarkation points, such as St Non’s, St Justinian’s and St Patrick’s chapels
  • The traditions associated with the healing well, including its association with curing visual impairments
  • Archaeological investigations into the site
  • History and development of pilgrimage to St Non’s
  • The spiritual significance of St Non for women in Medieval times, through the example of the 15th Century poem Edudful Ferch Gadwgan, who washed her hair at the well before travelling onwards on pilgrimage to St Davids in order to gain blessings for her sons
  • The chapel’s fall into disuse and later use as a vegetable garden
  • Today the fields are farmed by an organic dairy farmer
  • The development of the Coast Path
  • Conservation projects on the coastal strip that support wildflowers, pollinators, butterflies, wild birds.
  • Caring for and protecting this special landscape
  • How local people feel about and care for this place


2. Interpretative Messages

  • Visitors enjoying the physical and psychological benefits of visiting St Non’s today follow in the footsteps of centuries of pilgrims whose visits were motivated by religious belief.
  • Water and stone are present throughout St Non’s story, linking the spiritual significance of this place to the ecological significance of the water cycle and natural landscape for our wellbeing.
  • For many centuries women have related to St Non’s story and found parallels and inspiration in their own lives.
  • The stories of St Non and St David give an insight into the social and cultural shifts in early Medieval Wales, the spread of early Christianity and connectivity in the Celtic world via the sea, including the links and mutual influences between the early Celtic Saints, such as St Patrick, St Aidan and St David.
  • In the past, communities lived sustainably by growing food locally, and travelling on foot or by sail without using fossil fuels; local farmers and custodians of this landscape today are finding sustainable solutions to people’s needs that reduce the impact of modern lifestyles on these special landscapes.


Commission Fee

The Sound Walk commission is valued at €14,000. This is inclusive of fees, studio time, materials, production, insurance, venue hire, travel, accommodation, scripting, recording, editing, community engagement, technical solutions, launch event, marketing and any other costs, and will be paid in three instalments at the start, middle and end of the commission subject to satisfactory progress.

This fee is inclusive of VAT.


 Time Frame

  • Application Deadline Tuesday 4 May 2021 5pm
  • Thursday 6 May shortlisting
  • Friday 14 May interviews
  • Research, engagement, development and recordings: June-August 2021
  • Sound Walk audio completed and launched by end of September 2021


Application Procedure

Applications require the following: 

  1. CV (max 3 pages) and relevant biographies of key project team members (if applicable)
  2. A proposal (500-1000 words) outlining the approach to the commission, including creative ideas, methods of community engagement, who you intend to engage and your approach to developing and co-creating the Sound Walk
  3. Examples of previous work of relevance
  4. A proposed timeline and budget breakdown


Closing date for submissions: Tuesday 4 May 2021 5pm

Online applications only. Collaborative applications are welcomed but must indicate a lead practitioner associated.

All applications should be sent by email to Rhowan Alleyne.


Selection Process

The artists’ proposals will be evaluated and scored based on the criteria below by a panel of the Ancient Connections project team, which includes staff working for both Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Pembrokeshire County Council.

Selection Criteria

  • Quality of the proposal and creative response to the themes  25%
  • Quality of the creative practitioner’s previous work and track record 30%
  • Quality and suitability of proposed engagement work 30%
  • Budget breakdown, timeline and capacity to deliver 15%



This project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme 2014 – 2020.  This text and the logos below should appear on all reports and any other outcomes from this contract, e.g. presentations, publicity etc.

Ancient Connections Project Funder logos

About the National Park Authority