• Name


Silver Spear Instruments are traditional local designer-makers, headed by craftsman Jonathan Letcher, who has lived and worked for many years in the Marches of Wales. Jon trained originally as a boat builder in East Anglia, worked in a number of boatyards in the Norfolk Broads and in New Zealand, and still usually spends part of every year working on classic boat repair and restoration projects, at a boatyard in western Argyll. But his first love has always been music and traditional instruments - he made his first dulcimer (which he also plays) in his spare time at the first boatyard he worked in, at Beccles in Suffolk, over thirty years ago; and has been making harps since 1995.

He has written a number of articles about making harps and dulcimers for national magazines; and has talked on BBC Radio 4, the World Service and local TV about the  various instrument-based projects, highlighting connections between different cultures, which are his special interest.

He has spent three months in Hungary, Iran and China on a Winston Churchill Fellowship, working with other makers and musicians; helped build the first authentic reproduction of the 4,500 year-old Golden Lyre from Ur, in what is now Iraq; and has worked with students and archaeologists at a university in Cairo on reproductions of ancient Egyptian instruments. He was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Craft Scholarship in 2001, to develop his instrument-making at London Guildhall University.


The name ‘Silver Spear’ was taken from one of Jon’s favourite Irish tunes, which had come to symbolise for him the strength and beauty of the traditional music of our islands. But it also has another significance. In ancient Irish mythology, the Silver Spear was one of the Three Treasures of Ireland, which was wielded by Lugh, the god of Light - as long as the spear was
in his hand, he was invincible.

  • Finlaggan


    Finlaggan is the name of a group of tiny green islands on a loch on Islay, in the Inner Hebrides, which was the seat of the Lords of the Isles for nearly four hundred years. Here they held their councils, ruling the whole western seaboard of Scotland with the help of their fleet of Highland Galleys, or Birlinns, the descendants of the Viking Longships, which were based a few miles south in a sheltered bay looking out on Jura. 

  • Camlad


    The Camlad is a small river, a tributary of the Severn, which flows close to the Welsh border a few miles from Montgomery and Bishop’s Castle - our local towns. There is a path beside the river, through a narrow, hidden valley, which winds between tiny water-meadows and steep sheltering woods. Its green banks catch the sun, and are covered in spring with many different kinds of wild flowers, much earlier than on the open ground above; and the stream itself is sometimes thick with the long white trailing flowers, called water crows-foot, that appear in Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the legends of King Arthur, such as the Lady of Shalott

  • Kilmartin


    The Kilmartin Glen, on the west coast of Argyll in Scotland, has a higher concentration of ancient sites than almost any other part of Britain, from 5,000 year-old cup-and-ring marked stones, chambered tombs and stone circles, to early Christian crosses. The hill fort of Dunadd, which looks out over the Moine Mhor peat bog, the Add river estuary, and loch Crinan, was once the centre of the kingdom of Dalriada - it has a footprint carved in a rock near its summit which may have been used during the inauguration of its kings; and it was formerly a stronghold of the local Pictish tribes.

  • Clare


    Clare is a town in West Suffolk, close to where Jon Letcher was born, which was once home to the family who gave their name to County Clare in Ireland. It is a typical small East Anglian town, with some lovely old houses covered with plaster floral decorations - a local speciality known as pargetting - and a fine fifteenth century church. The name is a reminder that the harp was, in the Middle Ages, not only important for Celtic music, but the most popular stringed instrument in England - carvings of ’gothic’ harps are found in hundreds of churches across the country - as well as in most other European countries.

Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust
Silver Spear Instruments
Jonathan Letcher
Ridge Farm
Bishop’s Castle
+44 (0)1588 650 416