A giant scarf knitted by locals will hang on the site of an ancient castle in Bala from Friday, as part of the town’s 700th anniversary celebrations.

June 2024 marks the anniversary of the signing of a royal charter, which made Bala a free borough town in 1324.

The scarf unveiling is part of ‘Bala 700 – Yma o Hyd’, celebrating the town’s rich history, the fact it is thriving and, in the words of Dafydd Iwan, ‘yma o hyd’ (‘still here’) 700 years later! It has been set up by a voluntary committee supported and funded by Bala Town Council.

Celebrations so far include flowers, hanging baskets, a virtual history tour accessed through QR codes, a fancy dress Parkrun, stickers, banners and coffee mornings. Now, in homage to an industry that played a significant role in Bala’s history, they’re shining a light on the town’s knitting heritage.

Bala was famous for its wool industry in the 18th century, particularly knitted socks; over the past months residents have picked up their knitting needles again, this time to produce dozens of scarves. These have been combined to create one 250-metre scarf to be placed around the Mount in Bala at 10am tomorrow, Friday, 14 June.

Lowri Rees Roberts, a member of the Bala 700 – Yma o Hyd committee, said: “Our local knitting clubs, Clwb Gweu y Bala and Clwb Gweu Llanuwchllyn, as well as many individuals, have been knitting scarves over the last six months and have sewn them together to create a colourful scarf which will be part of a huge knitting celebration.

“Children from Ysgol Godre'r Berwyn will join us on Friday to wrap the scarf around Tomen y Bala and the rugby field, with a cup of tea and a biscuit to celebrate afterwards.

“We hope the event will bridge the generations here in Bala and it will be nice to see the young pupils and the residents come together to enjoy the colourful celebrations of Bala 700.

Scarves on a washing line. Photo: Sally Hendry
Scarves on a washing line. Photo: Sally Hendry (Sally Hendry)

Keira Davies who has helped co-ordinate the scarf project said it “has been a lot of work for the knitters but we have also had a lot of support from members of the local communities who have given us donated wool and passed on their finished scarves”.

The giant scarf will remain outside over the summer holidays, before being collected, washed, separated and distributed among homeless charities.

Craft club have been yarn bombing the town with their creative knitted and crocheted works adding colour to Bala high street.

Bala 700 – Yma o Hyd events continue throughout the year with historical celebrations, a lantern procession, concerts and more.

A new exhibition examining the town’s history has been organised by Cymdeithas Cantref. It opens on 22 June at Canolfan y Plase and runs until 12 July.

Visitors can learn about the area’s history and see a replica of the ancient charter, which is held at the UK Government’s National Archives at Kew in Surrey.

The charter signed by Edward II in 1324 gave Bala a free borough status.