Amgueddfa Blog

Yn ystod mis Medi 2019, cwblhawyd gwaith atgyweirio, glanhau a phaentio ar offer weindio Big Pit. Gwyliwch y broses yn y ffilm timelapse isod.

Mae angen gwaith adfer ar yr offer i osgoi niwed a chyrydu. Mae’r gwaith yn sicrhau bod ymwelwyr yn medru parhau i fwynhau profiad tanddaearol unigryw'r Amgueddfa, a bod Big Pit yn medru parhau i adrodd hanes pwysig dylanwad y pyllau glo ar gymunedau, y gymdeithas a'r byd diwydiannol.

Mae'r ffilm hon am yr offer weindio, gafodd ei chreu ar gyfer yr arddangosfa, yn dangos sut mae popeth yn gweithio.

Cefnogir y project gan Gronfa Treftadaeth y Loteri Genedlaethol a grant adfer gan y Gymdeithas Archaeoleg Ddiwydiannol.

Noson Bluo / Noson Bufio

Mae cyfoeth o draddodiadau yn gysylltiedig â’r Nadolig yng Nghymru; rhai a erys yn boblogaidd hyd heddiw, a rhai sydd wedi mynd yn brinach gydag amser.

Roedd y Noson Bluo (neu "blufio") yn achlysur cymdeithasol pwysig iawn mewn llawer ardal cyn y Nadolig yn y gorffennol.  Rhyw wythnos cyn y dathlu, byddai’r gymuned yn ymuno i bluo ac i baratoi’r gwyddau a’r twrcwns a fu’n tewhau dros yr Hydref i’w gwerthu cyn y diwrnod mawr.  Byddai rhai yn dechrau ben bore ac yn dod â’r gwaith i ben erbyn yr hwyr tra byddai eraill yn cymryd mantais o dawelwch yr oriau tywyll ac yn bwrw ati i bluo drwy’r nos a thacluso popeth yn oriau man y bore cyn dechrau ar dasgau’r diwrnod i ddod.

Roedd yr achlysur yn gyfle i deuluoedd ac i ffrindiau dreulio amser gyda’i gilydd.  Er bod y gwaith yn galed, roedd digon o sbort a sbri i’w gael i’r criw o amgylch y tân yn y gegin, neu o amgylch y gwresogydd mewn sied y tu allan, wrth sgwrsio, dweud jôcs, adrodd straeon, chwarae gemau llafar a chanu ambell i gân.  Dyma ychydig yn rhagor am y digwyddiad arbennig hwn gan ddau o siaradwyr yr Archif Sain:

Pluo yn Sir Drefaldwyn

Ganwyd Catherine Sydney Roberts yn Y Gardden, Llanerfyl, y 1900.  Roedd yn un o 14 o blant.  Bu’n byw yn ardal Llanerfyl erioed.  Roedd yn wraig hynod ddiwylliedig ac fe’i holwyd gan Minwel Tibbott yn 1972 am fwydydd ar fferm fechan yn ystod cyfnod troad yr 20fed ganrif: 

Catherine Sydney Roberts, 1972

“Noson bluo, oedd hi’n noson fawr iawn.  Pluo gwydda te.  Fyddan ni wrthi drwy’r nos, dros nos oeddan ni’n neud.  Mi fydda na gymdeithas neilltuol a mi fyddan ni’n mynd er mwyn cael y gymdeithas ‘ddoch chi, te.  Yn ista ar y meincia, odd y dynion i gyd, a rownd bowt, a dwy lantarn neu dair yn hongian o’r llofft.  O, roedd hi’n gynnes reit yna achos oedd na gymaint o fobol a’r lanteri ‘ma, oen nhw’n cynhesu chi.  Ac erbyn y bore oeddan ni wedi gorffen y cwbwl a gallu glanhau fyny.  Doedd neb yn gwbod fod neb wedi bod yn pluo noson gynt bron te.  Hwyl anfarwol, adrodd rhyw hen benillion a … Hwyl anfarwol, noson pluo, ynte.”

Plufio yn Sir Benfro

Ganwyd Clifford Thomas yn 1905 mewn tyddyn bach o’r enw Bryn y Banc ym mhentref Mesur-y-Dorth, ger Croes-goch, Sir Benfro.  Aeth i’r ysgol yng Nghroes-goch i ddechrau ac yna i Ysgol Sir Tyddewi am flwyddyn.  Roedd yn sgwrsiwr heb ei ail ac fe’i holwyd gan Delyth James yn 1972 am arferion y Nadolig a'r Flwyddyn Newydd.

Dyma rai o’i atgofion yntau am y Noson Blufio:

Clifford Thomas, 1972

“Odd plufio yn dod ryw wythnos cyn Nadolig.  Gwydde a chwïed a twrcis.  Casglu wedyn, o, ryw ddwsin o fenywod i blufio o’r pentrefi a chwedyn, yng ngwaith i odd lladd y gwydde a’r twrcis a’u cario nhw iddyn nhw fel na bod nhw’n gorffod dod allan o’r pluf.  Odd stafell arbennig mâs, a yn yr ystafell honno on nhw’n plufio.  On ni’n gorffod gofalu bod heaters yndi’r noson cyn hynny, oil heaters fel bod y lle wedi’i dwymo ar eu cyfer nhw, a lampie pryd hynny, lantarne, oil lamps, i oleuo iddyn nhw oherwydd ch’mod, tua’r Nadolig yna ma’r tywydd yn dywyll iawn.   Ma’r dydd yn dywyll.  Dechre tua wyth i hanner awr wedi wyth, hyd wedd hi mlân bump o’r gloch, pump, chweech o’r gloch.  Gorffen wedyn.  Dod i ben â’r cyfan erbyn hynny.  A yn y blynydde cynta, odd na glanhau giblets ymlân, ar ôl hynny wedyn.  Wedi iddyn nhw ddod fewn a châl ‘u te, on nhw’n dechre ar y busnes hwn.  Pryd hynny on nhw’n câl ‘u gwerthu ar wahân i’r gwydde.  Swllt y pâr, swllt y set:  pen, dwy droed, afu a’r galon a’r lasog.”

Hello humans! Uri Guide Dog here. I haven't written my dog blog for some time but that does not mean I haven't been visiting my favourite museums. In fact I have been to several special exhibitions at National Museum Cardiff.

One of them was full of live snakes in glass cages as well as skeletons and pieces of art from the museum's collection. Mum got a chance to take part in a special audio described handling session with the live snakes – yikes – but I took the opportunity to take one of the lovely members of staff for a little walk around the block and a bit of fresh air. Apparently the snakes wrapped themselves around mum’s arms and I don't think that was very sensible, but I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it!

We also attended the David Nash exhibition which was very interesting, particularly seeing the humans using some very doggy techniques when investigating the large chunks of wood scattered all around the large rooms. The group had special permission from the artist to touch some of the sculptures but they also stooped and sniffed as the wood all had different smells. I was a bit confused why there appeared to be full-size trees in the middle of the museum! Mum kept me well away in case I mistook them for indoor dog facilities.

We have visited St Fagans a couple of times too, including a tour of the farm and the animals. We saw some sheep being sheared which didn't look very comfortable to be honest, and I was a bit wary when mum tried to pet a cow.

I am looking forward to the next Audio Description tour on 12 December when we get to officially meet Dippy the dinosaur!

For more information on Audio Description tours at National Museum Cardiff, call (029) 2057 3240.

Often, when writing a book on one subject, you come across fascinating information which cannot be included because it strays too far from the original remit. Such was the case when writing The Curious Case of the Eisteddfod Baton (Wordcatcher Publishing) a fascinating story about a Welsh gold conductor’s baton, housed at Parc Howard Museum, Llanelli. The baton had was given to the National Eisteddfod by William Pritchard Morgan, the ‘Gold King of Wales’ who had given other gifts of Welsh gold, including two now in Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

The Welsh Gold King

In 1888 William Pritchard Morgan was enjoying mass popularity and success. The millionaire ‘King’ had come a long way from his modest origins at Usk in 1844 where he was born, the son of William Morgan, an influential Wesleyan preacher. They were not rich, the family house consisted of just a back parlour, kitchen with pantry, and three bedrooms for the six family members and a servant. When Morgan was eight his father died from a chill caught while tramping around the country preaching - his will included old carpets and pans, an old piano, about twenty books, a German clock but nothing of silver or gold, and no money. The assessor valued his possessions at just £84 when the average yearly wage for a teacher was around £81.

As soon as he was old enough Morgan was articled to work for Newport lawyer Robert James Cathcart but he did not stay to complete his articles. Apparently he and Cathcart had a ‘lively quarrel’ when Morgan had taken exception to something Cathcart had said to him. Without further ado young Morgan put on his hat and took himself off, but worried about the reception he would receive at home for abandoning his job he decided instead to run away to Australia.

Having sold his watch and law books Morgan proceeded to Liverpool where he embarked for Australia and new opportunities offered by the second largest gold rush in the world – the first having been in California a decade previously. 

Some twenty years later Morgan was back in Wales - now a multimillionaire through his enormously successful legal practice and investments in gold mines. Fascinated by the myriad reports that gold had been found in Wales he bought a mansion on a mountain in Dolgellau - and began digging.

He was not the first to have done so. The Little Gold Rush of North Wales in the 1860s saw huge amounts of money made and lost, all widely reported in the British and colonial press. Morgan, along with half the world, avidly followed the developments until the small gold rush petered out at the end of the decade.

Convinced he could succeed where others had failed Morgan, by force of both his personality and his money, set about transforming the mining of gold in Wales. Shortly after taking over the Gwynfynydd mine in Dolgellau in 1887 Morgan’s faith was vindicated when he hit a large pocket of gold. So fabulous was this discovery that he declared to the whole of Britain there was enough gold in Wales to pay off the national debt. His mine, he said, was going be one of the richest in the world - and as there were fifty other sites in North Wales there was every reason to believe that gold would be found in huge quantities. ‘Gallant Little Wales’ was going to be enormously wealthy.

Morgan’s announcements sent the national press into frenzy. Story after story appeared and every development at Gwynfynydd was enthusiastically reported which in turn brought any array of visitors, from royalty to hordes of sailors who hiked up the mountain on their days off. Morgan became a celebrity and with his new found fame pursued his passion for politics, controversially being elected MP for Merthyr - a huge endorsement of his liberal beliefs and his fight for working class people.

As a celebrity and politician Morgan loved to use his gold. He had specially commissioned pieces presented to leading figures of the day, such as ‘A History and Geography of Wales for the Young’ bound in gold for The Princess of Wales; a paperweight made of a solid piece of gold ore for the Prince of Wales; and a medal and a gold covered album of pictures of Corwen presented to Queen Victoria, commemorating her 1889 visit to Wales. While the whereabouts of these objects are unknown, three of Morgan’s gifts are in Welsh museums: the Eisteddfod baton at Parc Howard, Llanelli (for more on this see The Curious Case of the Eisteddfod Baton (Wordcatcher Publishing)); the Stanley Medal; and the Clara Novello Davies’ baton both – the last two now housed at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.

The Stanley Medal

The Royal Geographical Society’s (RGS) most prestigious award is a gold medal and two are awarded every year, each requiring the approval of the Queen. In 1873 they had presented one to Henry Morton Stanley for finding Dr Livingston; but seventeen years later Stanley carried out an act so universally acknowledged as pure heroism, that the Society wanted to honour him again. However, they had already given him their highest award so what were they to do? In the end they gave him a second gold ‘unofficial’ medal – which is why it does not appear in their annual record of awards.

In 1890, five years after the killing of General Gordon in the revolt against British rule in Egypt, Emin Pasha, then the Governor of Egyptian Sudan, had become trapped during an outbreak of fighting and his plight became world news. It was Stanley who led the controversial Emin Pasha Relief Expedition (1886-89), one of the last major European expeditions into the interior of Africa, where he succeeded in rescuing Pasha. It was in recognition of this bravery that the medal was commissioned - and having sought the advice of the Medal Department of the British Museum the design was entrusted to Elinor Halle.[1]

Elinor Hallé (1856-1926) was a sculptor, inventor and daughter of the conductor and founder of the Hallé Orchestra. She had been a student at London’s Slade School of Art, which in 1871 was the first public art school to admit women on the same terms as men. She had been one of the Slade Girls - a group of women ‘responsible for a large number of the cast medals produced during the revival in Britain in the 1880s and 1890s … now shadowy figures about whom little is known.’[2]

At the time of commission for the Stanley honour, Elinor was a respected medal designer and her medal of Cardinal Newman had won top prize at the 1885 International Inventions Exhibition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
©Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

On the Stanley medal Elinor etched an image of him modelled from Hurbert von Herkomer’s portrait and numerous photographs taken before his departure for Egypt. Around the edges run the inscription ‘H M Stanley Presented by the Royal Geographical Society MDCCCXC.’

On the reverse, a semi-nude female figure representative of Africa is featured. She wears a helmet in the design of an elephant’s head and her foot is upon a crocodile. She holds two jars from which the water of Africa’s two great rivers flows out, inspired by Stanley’s mapping of the central African lakes and the Congo River. In the background are mountains and the sun setting behind a forest. The inscription reads Congo/ Nile/ Rvwenzori[3]/1887-1889 and is signed by Elinor Hallé at the bottom.

When it appeared, Herbert A. Grueber, of the Department of Coins and Medals of the British Museum wrote, ‘I consider it one of the best medals of modern times.’[4] An opinion, he added, that was shared with all his colleagues in the department.

At a huge meeting in the Royal Albert Hall, London on 5 May 1890 the Prince of Wales presented Stanley with the Royal Geographical Society medal of ‘British gold’ while other papers simply referred to it as a gold medal.[5] It is not known how William Pritchard Morgan first became involved but he had been a member of the RGS since 1883[6] and given Stanley was Welsh, Morgan probably recognised a good marketing opportunity. Various papers reported that the gold was ‘given for the express purposes’ of making the medal, indicating that it was a gift.

Bronze versions of the medal were also presented to members (some posthumously) of the Expedition, but Stanley’s African staff just received a silver star.

Over time the medals were sold and some bronze examples can be seen in various museums such as the V&A, the Fitzwilliam and others. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales bought a bronze example and Stanley’s Welsh gold medal from Christie’s on 25 March 1986.[7]

Clara Novello Davies’ baton

The other Welsh gold gift of William Pritchard Morgan in Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales is an 18-carat gold conductor’s baton.

Morgan had presented it to Clara Novello Davies, a famous singer and conductor and mother of Ivor Novello.

On 7 December 1900, Clara’s world famous ‘Royal Welsh Ladies’ Choir’ gave a concert at the Palace Theatre, London and that night Morgan presented Clara with the baton as a token of appreciation for the work she had done for music in Wales.[8] Three years later she accidentally left it in a cab. It remained lost for twenty-seven years until Scotland Yard telephoned one day to say that a gold baton had come into their possession with her name engraved on it and returned it to her.[9] What had become of it for twenty-seven years is not known; but once returned to her Clara used it for the rest of her life. After her death it was presented to the museum by her son Ivor Novello. The baton is currently in the stores and cannot be viewed by the public.

 

 
 
 
 
©Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

While there are a number of other objects made of Welsh gold in the museum, these are the only two which were gifts of William Pritchard Morgan, the ‘Welsh Gold King.’ 

 

[1] Belfast News-Letter Mr Stanley in London (6 May 1890)

[2] Attwood, Philip. ‘The Slade Girls’ British Numismatic Society. Vol. 56 1986 p148-177 Accessed online https://www.britnumsoc.org/publications/Digital%20BNJ/pdfs/1986_BNJ_56_10.pdf

[3] Rwenzori, a spectacular mountain range. The name was given by Stanley from a native word meaning ‘rain maker’

[4] Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography Geographical Notes Vol. 12, No. 5 (May, 1890), p 287

[5] South Wales Daily News Reception to Mr Stanley (6 May 1890)

[6] My thanks to David McNeil of the RGS for this information

[7] Thanks to Alastair Willis, Senior Curator: Numismatics and the Welsh Economy, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales for this information

[8] Western Mail Royal Welsh Ladies Choir (11 Dec. 1900)

[9] Lancashire Evening Post Baton Found After 27 Years (13 Oct. 1931)

 

It’s no secret that Dippy the Dinosaur has been at the National Museum Cardiff for a couple of weeks; mostly because he’s very hard to miss. The good news is he won’t be lacking in company over the next few months. In this video, we explain how Dippy came to be the world’s most famous cast of a dinosaur skeleton and how he fits in to a wider exhibition at National Museum Cardiff.

 

Music: "Colossus" by Kevin MacLeod (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).