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Roundabout Art Tells the History of Bury St Edmunds

From the dramatic steel figure of St Edmund to the uplifting dove of peace, the unique roundabouts in Bury St Edmunds use stunning artwork to welcome visitors into the town and tell of its history.

Among the many unique features of Bury St Edmunds is that almost every major junction into town has extraordinary modern artworks which mark key moments in its history.

The first was a dramatic steel figure of St Edmund, who before George held the title of the first Patron Saint of England, on the roundabout where Parkway crosses Risbygate Street.  

Designed by Emmanuel O'Brien and made by blacksmith Nigel Kaines, the statue of St Edmund at his martyrdom is made from steel wire with steel arrows penetrating Edmund’s heart and body.

Photograph by Shawn Pearce

St Edmund was an Anglo-Saxon King and ruled East Anglia between 855AD and 869AD. He was killed by Viking raiders for refusing to renounce his Christian faith during the Danish invasion.

The story goes that after being killed with arrows and decapitated in Suffolk, the king's body was found but his head was missing. Edmund’s supporters heard a wolf call them and found it guarding the king's head, which was then reunited with his body which miraculously become reattached. This was felt to be a sign of sainthood and many miracles were then attributed to Edmund and his shrine in Bury St Edmunds became a place of pilgrimage. This resulted in the growth and prosperity of the Abbey and the town.
The wolf is a central figure of the story of St Edmund and is brought to life on the town’s Southgate Green roundabout near the town’s east junction with the A14.

Photograph by Tom Soper

The 7ft wood carving by sculptor Ben Loughrill depicts the animal guarding St Edmund’s head beside his battered crown.

The Crown is the theme of the bronze coloured lattice work made of steel and willows on the roundabout between Cullum Road and Nowton Road. The large crown, created by artist Liz Cooke, is pierced by two arrows symbolising the link with St Edmund but also Greene King.

Courtesy of Bury St Edmunds in Bloom

Bury St Edmunds is the home of Greene King and the crown and arrows features in Greene King’s logo. Greene King has been brewing in Bury St Edmunds since 1799 and the willow for the artwork was grown by Lark Valley Willow on the meadows near the brewery.

Photograph by Josephine Sweetman

Outside the Abbey, Bury St Edmunds was always been an agricultural town and at the King’s Road roundabout at Parkway this aspect of the town’s heritage is commemorated. The Grain sculpture by local resident Roy Proctor and forged by blacksmith Nigel Kaines is a stone’s throw from were, centuries ago, many windmills ground corn.

The Flight of Peace sculpture on the Lady Miriam Way roundabout commemorates the US Air Force’s arrival at Rougham Airfield in 1943.
The breath-taking B17 Flying Fortress commemoration sculpture, with a dove of peace blossoming from it, is a symbolic remembrance of those gallant American servicemen who, by preparing, maintaining and flying the B17 Flying Fortress bombers on 325 missions between June 1943 and April 1945 during WWII, contributed to lasting peace in Europe.

Photograph by Josephine Sweetman

The aircraft from Rougham Airfield were identified by the letter A in a square background on the tailfin, which is captured in the sculpture. The landscaping of the roundabout represents the United States five pointed white star in a blue circle. The star is planted with ‘white’ grasses together with white flowering plants and is surrounded with loose ‘blue’ slate.

All of the roundabout artwork projects were led by Bury St Edmunds in Bloom, an independent charity run by Bury Society dedicated to promoting a greener, cleaner and a more beautiful Bury St Edmunds. It is this work and many other projects that have led to Bury St Edmunds reaching the finals of the 2018 Britain in Bloom competition.