Amgueddfa Blog: Amgueddfeydd, Arddangosfeydd a Digwyddiadau

What's the Project all about?

“Saving Treasures; Telling Stories” is an all-Wales Project about bringing archaeology to life and enabling community engagement.

It is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and administered by Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in partnership with the Federation of Museums and Galleries in Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales.

At Powysland Museum the project takes as its starting point the existing collections of archaeological jewellery in the three local authority museums in Powys: Powysland Museum in Welshpool, Radnorshire Museum in Llandrindod Wells and Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery in Brecon.

Some of the objects have been acquired by the museums as recent treasure finds, while others have been in the collections for several years.

What is Powysland Museum doing?

The project encompasses:

  • a temporary exhibition on archaeological jewellery from the museums in Powys.
  • engagement with a number of community groups in story-writing sessions, art and jewellery workshops and research inspired by the artefacts and their stories, to be displayed in the exhibition.
  • art and craft activities, “finds open days” and other events for a wider audience during the exhibition period.

Community Partners

The museum has been working with a number of partners to deliver the promised outcomes, such as Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, the poet and writer Pat Edwards and the artist Andrew Logan.


The community partners have included Welshpool High School’s Art department, Buttington-Trewern Primary School, Welshpool Camera Club, Llanfair-Caereinion Historical Society, Welshpool Young Carers and Welshpool Kaleidoscope group.

Working with Welshpool Poetry Festival


One of the bonuses of having Pat Edwards involved in the project was that she transferred the idea of archaeological jewellery to the annual Welshpool Poetry Festival, of which she is the founder and the organiser.
 
Every year the poetry festival holds a competition and this year’s theme was ‘jewels’. For the ‘Young People’s Poetry Competition (Ages 7-14) the winners were:

  • First Prize – ‘My Jewel’ by Nancy Gargiulo from Criftins Primary School
  • Second Prize – ‘Jewel’ by Lila Melnykevicova
  • Third Prize – ‘Silver’ by Maisie from Berriew School

Powysland museum is delighted to be able to display these poems and others along with their Saving Treasures-funded Archaeological Jewellery exhibition.

 

The Museums Association Conference of 1948 was held at National Museum Cardiff over five days, running from July 12th to the 16th. All conference meetings were held in the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, while an area within the Zoology Department was used as Association Office, Writing Room and Smoke Room.

We know the majority of host duties would have been carried out by Frederick J. North, who was Keeper of Geology and Archibald H. Lee, Museum Secretary, because they are listed on the programme as Honorary Local Secretaries. It is most likely we have them to thank for the ephemera held in the Library, including copies of the programme, associate and staff badges, reception invites, day trip tickets and the official group photograph, taken on the steps of the Museum.

The first day of the conference began with registration, followed by a Council meeting and visit to Cardiff Castle and a reception at the South Wales Institute of Engineers in the evening. The programme states this event as requiring Morning dress code which, during this time period would be a three piece suit for the men, and smart day dresses for the women, or general smart clothing suitable for formal social events.

The second day began with official welcomes by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Alderman R. G. Robinson, and the President of the National Museum Wales, Sir Leonard Twiston-Davies. This was followed by a number of papers read by delegates [all fully listed in the programme], gathering for the official conference photograph, and a Civic Reception at City Hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor [with refreshments, music and dancing].

1948 was the year that St Fagans National Museum of History was first opened to the public as the St Fagans Folk Museum and to mark this, a visit was arranged for the afternoon of day three. St Fagans Castle, gardens, and grounds had been given to the National Museum Wales by the Earl of Plymouth in 1946 and over the next two years extensive work had been carried out to make it suitable to open to the public. According to the 1950 St Fagans guide book, in the Castle, new central heating, electric lighting, and fire appliances had to be installed along with a tickets office, refreshment room and public amenities. By 1948 our delegates would have had access to the Castle and its newly refurbished historic interiors such as the kitchen with two 16th century fireplaces, the Hall furnished in 17th century style, 17th and 18th century bedrooms and the early 19th century Library. They would also have enjoyed walking the gardens which included a mulberry grove, herb and rose gardens, vinery, fishponds, and flower-house interspersed with bronze sculptures by Sir William Goscombe John. Onsite also were a traditional wood-turner and a basket-maker, creating and selling their wares. The handbook also describes a delightful sounding small tea room with curtains made at the Holywell Textile Mills and watercolour paintings by Sir Frank Brangwyn. However, according to a Western Mail clipping, this didn’t open to the public until some weeks later on August 24th. Presumably a room within the Castle itself was used for the delegates’ buffet tea to which they were treated after being greeted by the Curator of St Fagans, Dr Iorwerth Peate.

Interestingly the programme provides times of the train service that ran from Cardiff Central Station to St Fagans. Sadly, the station at St Fagans is no longer there, the service being withdrawn in 1962, although a signal box and level crossing on the line remain.

The Annual General Meeting, Council Meeting and Federation of Officers Meeting  were all held on the next day along with more papers, including one by Mr Duncan Guthrie [of the Arts Council], on the upcoming “Festival of Britain, 1951”. There was also an evening reception in the Museum hosted by the President, and the then Director [Sir Cyril Fox], with refreshments and music by the City of Cardiff High School for Girls Orchestra. The programme states evening dress if possible for this event so it’s a shame we don’t hold any photographs of what would have been a sea of tuxedos and evening gowns.

The final day consisted of further papers in the morning followed by escape and fresh air with visits to the Newport Corporation Museum and the Legionary Museum and Roman Amphitheatre at Caerleon during the afternoon.

The September 1948 issue of Museums Journal contains a full report on the conference, with detailed examination of all papers presented and the discussions they generated. It also lists the delegates including those from overseas. The report concludes with thanks to the National Museum Cardiff for the welcome and hospitality accorded to the 240 delegates, with special mention to North and Lee [who would certainly have earned their salaries over those five days!].

Anna Edwards, yn siarad am y ddarganfyddiad o’r Gelc Bronington ar eu fferm hi yn 2014:

Roedden ni wedi perchen ar y tir am dair mlynedd pan ddarganfyddon ni'r casgliad, er ein bod ni wedi rhentu o am flynyddoedd cyn hynny. Doedd neb wedi bod yno efo canfodyddion metel o'r blaen.

Dw'i bob amser yn gwerthfawrogi hanes a dwi'n cofio gorlethu'n gyffrous.  Mae wybodaeth leol wedi dysgi i ni bod llawer o weithgareddau wedi bod yn yr ardal yn y gorffennol fel yn ystod y Rhyfel Cartref a'r diwydiant halen.  Mae ffermio o dydd i ddydd wedi agor i fyny crochenwaith man, botwmau ond mae arwyddocad a phwysigrwydd y casgliad yn syfrdanol a mwy nag unrhywbeth gallwn i fod wedi dychmygu.

Fel y mwyafrif o bethau pwysig sy'n digwydd yn ein bywyd; mae digwyddiad pegynol fel hwn yn troi i fyny ar siawns.

Collodd fy ngwr ei oriadau yn ystod y cynhaeaf a gofynnodd i'r defnyddwyr canfodyddion metel lleol i helpu. Cafodd fy ngwr ei oriadau nôl a rhoddodd o wahoddiad i'r dynion i ddod yn ôl yn eu hamser hamdden.

Roedd gweld a theimlo'r casgliad yn ryfeddol ac yn gyffrous i fod y person cyntaf i wisgo'r modrwy ers 500 mlynedd. Roedd y cyflwr yn gysefin ac yn edrych yn newydd sbon. Roedd rhaid i ni eistedd i lawr i werthfawrogi'r sefyllfa. I bwy roedd hi’n perthyn? Pwy wisgodd o? Sut bobl oedden nhw? Oedd y trysor wedi ei guddio neu ddwyn?

Mae darganfod y casgliad wedi cryfhau ein cysylltiad efo'r tir ble rydyn ni wedi gweithio mor galed. Mae'n fraint i gyrraedd mor bell ac yn anrhydedd mawr i fod yn gysylltiedig efo'r arian a'r modrwy. Tystiolaeth o'r gorfennol, pressenol a'r dyfodol i ni.

Yn ogystal â hyn mae'n syndod i mi am y diddordeb sydd wedi ei gynyddu yn lleol ac ymhellach. Ymddangosodd yn y papur newydd, derbynion alwadau ffôn o radio Chicago a siaradon yn fyw i holl dalaith Illinois, mwy i ddilyn!

Mae'n bleser gweld y plant ysgol yn cael eu cynnwys yn y cyffro ac aelodau'r gymuned trwy’r prosiect - "Buried in the Borderlands"

 

What was I thinking when I said yes?

 

Soapbox Science is a fantastic initiative to promote the role of women in science by getting them to stand on a soapbox in the middle of a city centre and explain to and, hopefully, enthuse, people about what they do. This year, the Cardiff event is being held on 2nd June, outside Cardiff Central Library, by the St David’s Centre (see poster).

 

So again, what was I thinking?

 

Well actually, I was thinking that most people don’t understand taxonomy, what it is and why it’s important, let alone why I would want to look at worms all day, and I want to tell them.

 

I want them to understand why it is important, not just to me, but why they should care too. Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms (showing how they are all related to each other and patterns of evolution). It is just one aspect of my job but the one that often gets the most interest and questions and, I think, possibly the least understood part. In 2010, the Census of Marine Life returned an estimate of over one million species living in the oceans, of which around one to two thirds are thought to be unknown. Add to that more recent research that shows that many species are, in fact, species complexes that consist of multiple species that are almost indistinguishable in appearance and, actually, the estimate of undescribed species suddenly rockets.

 

But so what? Why should people care about whether we know what all the different creatures in the sea are and give them names? Well, that is what I want to explain along with a little about how we come up with names. To this end I now have the job of ‘creating’ a worm that people can help name on the day using various features and information that I will tell them. Names tell you something about the animal, sometimes appearance, sometimes where it is from, but importantly, names are unique and help you identify that one animal from a group of others that may look very similar.

 

The montaged image on this page is just one of two that I have created to show people what marine bristleworms (polychaetes) look like. Most people think of earthworms when you talk about worms but actually polychaetes are so much more: more colourful, more detailed, many have eyes and jaws and some can even grow big enough to bite you! They all have interesting names that I will help explain to demonstrate what names mean.

 

Intrigued? Want to know more? Then come down to the event on Saturday 2nd June and find out how we name species and why it is important!

(http://soapboxscience.org/soapbox-science-2018-cardiff/)

The National Museum Cardiff was happy to host a behind the scenes tour to Brecon Detectorists, a group of keen treasure hunters who jumped at the opportunity to delve into the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales archives.

David Hingley set up Brecon Metal Detecting club in 2011 and is enthusiastic about promoting responsible metal detecting to its members. “Everyone who comes through that door has a condition of membership – everything over a certain age has got to be registered for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, I insist upon it,” David explains. “We’re a small club, we’ve basically capped ourselves at 10. At the moment we’re 9, we’ve had a new guy just started, the big fella, Tom.”

And newcomer, Tom Haines, is no stranger to historical finds. Even before joining the club, he shared David’s passion for responsible detecting. While out walking his dog one day last year, Tom discovered a Bronze Age knife; which he reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme so it could be properly excavated.

“By reporting it, archaeologists might want to dig it, and that ended up being the case,” he recalls. “I could have taken it home, plonked it in my own collection and no one would have learnt anything from it and it would have just crumbled away. It’s being properly preserved and looked after and archaeologists can learn a lot from it.”

The knife was just the tip of the iceberg, however, and his discovery led archaeologists to unearth a Bronze Age burial site, complete with cremated human remains. “They found a bronze age pin in there so it was a good thing that I didn’t disturb that!” The knife and pin, as well as the urn in which they (and charred bone) were discovered is currently pending through the treasure process. The hoard will likely be acquired by Brecon Museum thanks to the Saving Treasures* project.

It’s this interest in preserving archaeological artefacts that brought the club to the museum – to discover just how important their finds can be to museum researchers, conservationists and of course, archaeologists and historians.

The club’s tour kick started in the stores with Portable Antiquities Scheme Wales Liaison Officer, Mark Lodwick, where they were able to view and handle some fascinating Bronze Age axe heads. Among them was a ribbed socketed axe head found in Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan back in 2013 that was curiously stuffed with another, bent axe head and (seemingly) ritualistically buried.

From the stores, the group moved onto the conservation labs. Conservationists Louise Mumford and Owen Lazzari were on hand to answer any queries they may have when it comes to storing their non-treasure finds and show the club some exciting pieces they are currently working on. One of the most impressive pieces was a Viking period sword from Hawarden, which had been wrapped in textile and showed traces of a horn grip – all of which had been preserved by the rust formed on the sword! When x-rayed, the amount of original metal sword that had been left was minimal, so if the rust had been removed, Louise would not have been able to find the horn and textile traces and the sword would have been indistinguishable. Luckily, with careful excavation the sword could be professionally conserved and the horn and textile discovered – these elements could easily have had all traces of removed if proper procedure was not followed.

Another fascinating find in the conservation labs was a late Iron Age or Romano-British tankard, found as part of a hoard at Langstone that was still mostly in-tact, the wood having been preserved – a very delicate piece indeed!

The club were then able to see artefacts come to life in the art department, with resident artist Tony Daley.

David Hingley believes the visit to the museum was very helpful for both himself and his members: “I can understand the need for detectorists to be instructed in how to handle and store artefacts, and that more literature should be made available.” He explained that he learnt a lot and this new information can be put into immediate practise within in the club. David already keeps his own extensive coin collection (all of which have been processed and recorded by Mark Lodwick at AC-NMW) in acid free paper envelopes – essential for preventing further metal corrosion!

 “All the clubs try to instigate in all their members that you’ve got to detect responsibly. You’ve got to have permission and you’ve got to have the right gear. If you dig a hole in someone’s field – you’ve got to look at it from your own perspective - What would you say to someone if they came into your back garden and dug a hole in your lawn and then left it without filling it? You’d go mad, wouldn’t you?”  But this isn’t the only aspect of responsible detecting and David is keen to promote the other obligations detecting requires, such as the preservation of the objects themselves, “I am continually preaching to our members!”

David feels that more metal detectorists could benefit from taking the time to learn about the role of museums and conservation in particular. “In the field you watch detectorists kick open clods to see what’s in it - they do not seem to understand that it could contain a very fragile artefact a couple of hundred years old; and they break it or they find equally fragile artefacts and put them in pockets and not containers.”

*Saving Treasures; Telling Stories is helping museums in Wales to acquire the important finds discovered by metal detectorists like David, Tom and their club members. For more information on the project, click here.