Amgueddfa Blog

Wrexham Museum is currently hosting their Buried in the Borderlands community archaeology project, a project based around a hoard of Medieval silver and gold coins and a stunning sapphire and gold ring discovered by metal detectorists in Bronington.

Thomas and Leon are students working hard on the Bronington Hoard project at Wrexham Museum, learning about the value of the coins and archaeology. Read more about them here.

The duo have been keeping us updated of their work experience progress. Leon has been working on an information booklet about the hoard while Tom has been focused on making a craft session for the children who come to the museum.

“I’ve been looking into some ways to make coins out of clay or foam board and some paint. I’ve also been looking at ways to be able to print the patterns on the coins onto the craft coins,” explains Tom. All their effort has been paying off, as the boys are getting involved with events this Easter holiday time.

“We’ve recently decided what we’ll be doing in our craft session during the Easter holidays. We’ll be making coins! We’ll be introducing families to the hoard and get them to make their favourite coin out of clay. The clay and metallic paint we’ve ordered arrived this week! We look forward to seeing some of you at our ‘Make & Take’ craft session at the museum on Tuesday, April 3rd, 10.30am – 12.30pm.”

Leon explains that they are also excited to hosting a visit from History Matters, a 15th century re-enactment group who are visiting Wrexham Musuem on May 30th. “They’ll be showing us and our visitors all about everyday life when the hoard was buried,” explains Leon. “We’re looking forward to learning about what people and ate. It’d be great to see you there! You might even spot us in period dress.”

Meanwhile, Leon has been working on an information booklet for visitors for when the hoard actually goes on display at the museum in March. “It’s more difficult than I first thought!” he admits, “trying to write enough information and make it interesting without being too dull or boring. I’m getting great help from the museum staff though. My booklet will be translated, designed and printed so I’m looking forward to getting all the information written to share with you.”

Click here for a full list of events being held at Wrexham Museum

The Buried in the Borderlands Project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund via the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project.

Spring.  A beautiful season which epitomises re-birth and optimism, the awakening of nature to provide us with an array of stunning colours.   The Museum holds a collection of over 7000 superb botanical prints and drawings; several depict plants synonymous with the new season.

Principal Curator, Dr Heather Pardoe, from the Botany Section, Natural Sciences, has handpicked a seasonal range of exquisite botanical illustrations to reflect the delightful spring plants that are coming into flower. The Spring Collection provides an exclusive view of some of the illustrations that Botany holds behind the scenes; many are rarely on public display.

If you would like to see more of this beautiful collection, please follow the link below which will take you to the Print section of the online shop.  This also provides an opportunity to purchase a reproduction of one of these attractive images, as well as a wide range of other images from the Museum collections.

Museum Wales Prints

We are working towards providing a series of collections for you to enjoy - watch this space for more news!

Don’t forget to follow the Shop blog and Natural Sciences blog for regular updates!

Helo gyfeillion y gwanwyn,

Mae’n amser diddorol i astudio ac arsylwi ar y tywydd! Bydd y rhan fwyaf ohonoch wedi gweld eira a gwyntoedd uchel yr wythnos ddiwethaf. Rwy'n deall bod llawer o ysgolion wedi'u cau, a hyd yn oed os oedd eich ysgol ar agor efallai ei bod hi’n rhy beryglus i gymryd darlleniadau tywydd.

Mae'n debyg byddwch chi wedi clywed pobl yn sôn am rybuddion tywydd dros yr wythnos ddiwethaf. Caiff rhybuddion tywydd eu rhyddhau gan swyddfa’r MET (gwasanaeth tywydd swyddogol y DU) gyda chod lliw (gwyrdd, melyn, ambr a choch) i ddangos pa mor eithafol fydd y tywydd mewn gwahanol ardaloedd.

Gwyrdd: dim tywydd garw.

Melyn: posibilrwydd o dywydd eithafol, gofalwch.

Ambr (oren): posibilrwydd cryf y bydd y tywydd yn effeithio arnoch chi mewn rhyw fodd, paratowch.

Coch: yn disgwyl tywydd eithafol, cynllunio ymlaen llaw a dilyn cyngor y gwasanaethau brys ac awdurdodau lleol.

Mae’r Swyddfa Dywydd hefyd yn defnyddio symbolau i ddangos pa fath o dywydd i’w ddisgwyl. Dyma symbolau yn dangos rhybudd coch am law, rhybudd gwyrdd am wynt ac eira, rhybudd ambr am iâ a rhybudd gwyrdd am niwl. Mae hyn yn golygu bydd hi'n bwrw glaw yn drwm a dylech chi baratoi am iâ. Beth am edrych ar y tywydd lleol ar wefan y Swyddfa Dywydd?

Yr wythnos diwethaf gwelodd rhai ardaloedd rybuddion ambr a choch ar gyfer gwynt, eira a rhew oherwydd storm Emma a’r 'Dihiryn o'r Dwyrain’. Mae swyddfa’r MET yn ein rhybuddio er mwyn i ni baratoi am dywydd garw. Gall tywydd garw (fel gwynt cryf ac iâ) achosi problemau a’i gwneud hi’n anodd teithio. Weithiau bydd ffyrdd, rheilffyrdd a hyd yn oed ysgolion yn cau oherwydd tywydd gwael.

Pa fath o dywydd weloch chi yr wythnos diwethaf? Os nad oeddech chi’n gallu casglu cofnodion tywydd, nodwch 'dim cofnod' ar y ffurflen, a dweud yn yr adran sylwadau pa fath o dywydd weloch chi! Gallwch chi hefyd roi gwybod sut hwyl sydd ar eich planhigion, ac a ydynt wedi blodeuo?

Daliwch ati gyda'r gwaith da gyfeillion,

Athro’r Ardd



Sylwadau am y tywydd:

Ysgol Beulah: Roedd eira yn pot ni :)!!!!!!!!!.

Ysgol Carreg Emlyn: Mae hi wedi bwrw eira yma heddiw.

Ferryside V.C.P School: mae wythnos hyn wedi bod yn bwrw lot

Broad Haven Primary School: Snow Hail sleet sun rain gales . We have seen them all.

St Robert's R.C Primary School: We had a cold week this week.

Peterston super Ely Primary School: Lots of snow on Friday

Steelstown Primary School: Once again northern Ireland has been hit by a cold patch but Derry has once again missed out on heavy snowfall roll on spring.

Severn Primary: Some other places got some snow and it was really cold on Thursday when we went out for Games because of the wind. Hope we get snow!


Canonbie Primary School: We had snow again this week and lots of rain. Little signs of life springing through but no flowering bulbs yet.

Canonbie Primary School: This week has been a bit mixed weather wise. We had freezing conditions and snow on Tuesday but milder conditions by Friday. Typical British weather.

Carnbroe Primary School: Hi Professor Plant, we were off all week except for Thursday and Friday. The weather this week has been cold and icy.

Peterston super Ely Primary School: Snow days on Thursday and Friday

Onthank Primary School: No record of result due to snow days.

Auchenlodment Primary School: The Beast from the East hit this week! There was lots of snow and we were off school, yippee!

St John's Primary School: School was closed on Thursday due to weather conditions.

Fleet Wood Lane Primary School: School closed because of snow on Weds – Fri.

Carnforth North Road Primary School: The weather this week has been very cold and windy. The children have had to wrap up warm to gather the data.

Portpatrick Primary School: Very cold first thing - frozen ground, but no snow.

Inverkip Primary School: Hi professor plant Monday we had ALOT of rain but every other day it didn't rain at all. The temperature was warm then it dropped down but steadied up at the end of the week.

Steelstown Primary: We are starting to get some warm weather and some of our bulbs are growing.

Arkholme CE Primary School: It was very cold and on some days it was frosty.

St Andrew's RC Primary School: The rain gauge was broken by the frost, we have ordered a new one. This is why we have no rainfall for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.


Sylwadau am eich planhigion:

Ysgol Beulah: Roedd y tywydd yn oer iawn felly dydy'r blodau ddim wedi blaguro eto.

Ysgol Y Traeth: Mae sawl un o'r blodau wedi dechrau tyfu a rhai wedi dechrau agor yn araf. Mae 14 crocws wedi tyfu a 27 daffodil wedi tyfu.

Carnbroe Primary School: Hi Professor Plant, our bulbs still have not bloomed yet. The weather this week has been changeable. It has been wet, really really cold and icy and although the sun is out it's been cold.

Ysgol Bro Pedr: Many bulbs making an appearance now - a very cold week

Peterston super Ely Primary School: Meghan's crocus has finally flowered! Hopefully when we return from our half term holiday a few more will have flowered too.

Peterston super Ely Primary School: The children are very excited this week as one of our crocus bulbs has finally flowered!

Darran Park Primary: The temperature is still very cold. Our daffodils haven't grown but our crocus have a little bit.

Inverkip Primary School: Mon - Wed school holidays so no data collected. The bulbs are growing well in the pots but not in the ground yet. None have started to flower.

Pembroke Primary School: Looks like I planted two crocus and 1 daffodil. When I saw mine I was surprised.

Pembroke Primary School: This was the first in our class. T has now left the school. The pot wasn't full to the top with compost so this may have resulted in it flowering early.

Auchenlodment Primary School: Got colder this week with very little rainfall. Most of the bulbs have begun to sprout!

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Beautiful deep purple flower.

Ysgol Bro Pedr: The first crocus opened over our half term.

Bacup Thorn Primary School: Monday and Tuesday were teacher training days at Thorn. We are back and ready to measure! The children noticed some of our bulbs are making a slight appearance!!

Amy Wyatt is a Professional Training Year Intern from Cardiff University, find out more about Amy's project this year


A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens that have been stored appropriately, databased and arranged systematically to ensure quick access to students, researchers and the general public for scientific research and education. The Welsh National Herbarium contains vascular plants, bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), lichens, fungi, and algae. In the vascular herbarium, specimens are arranged by plant family/genus, and stored alphabetically.  Specimens are stored in tall cabinets within the herbarium which is kept cool at all times. Each cabinet usually contains one taxonomic group of plants, for example members of the genus ‘Rubus’ have their own cabinet/section within the herbarium. And within the ‘Rubus’ cabinet, you will find individual species of Rubus (Rubus occidentalis-black raspberry, Rubus aboriginum–garden dewberry), each with its own folder containing all specimens of that species.  Some specimens have been digitised and placed on an electronic system to make accessing records and ‘borrowing’ specimens to other institutions easier.

Herbaria are essentially the ‘home’ of historical plant records, containing information that would otherwise be lost in time. It is the curator’s role to ensure that all specimens are kept contamination free, are stored according to the correct guidelines, and are all stored systematically. The herbarium is checked regularly for infestations, and strict guidelines are put in place to ensure all specimens remain in pristine condition. Any loss or damage to specimens would be catastrophic because of the irreplaceable nature of collections. Herbaria also contain type specimens, individual specimens that an author based their description on when describing a new species. So, damage to these specimens has wide devastating impacts to not just museum collections, but science and taxonomy as a whole.

Who benefits from herbaria?

HISTORIANS: Specimens stored in the herbarium can give insights into the daily life of people in history. Collections like the economic botanic collection contain plants and botanical items that were of important domestic, medicinal, cultural use to society in the past. This collection contains herbs, dyes, textiles and culturally important items that are kept demonstrate their importance to world culture through displays, museum visits and exhibitions! Historians can also use herbarium collections for project collaborations, for record of discoveries and for exploration.

BOTANISTS: The most obvious field that benefit from herbaria is botany; botanists are scientists that exclusively study and perform experiments on plants. Some herbaria records span back hundreds of years, so this gives botanist a unique chance to look at how plant life has changed in this period of time. There are many studies that can be performed on herbaria entries, and usually depends on the specialist skills of the researcher looking at them. Botanists can look at changes in stomatal density, how a plant species has changed over time, when invasive species were first documented in the herbarium, what plant species are abundant at a particular period of time, flowering times of plants, if there are any gaps in plant records, amongst a whole host of other information

SCIENTISTS: It’s not exclusively botanists that benefit from herbaria, other branches of science can also use the collections in their research. Biologists, conservationists and ecologists can benefit from the specimens found in herbarium and frequently use collections for ongoing research. Specimens provide a detailed account of plant life, and this information can be used to look at diversity and abundance of certain plant species, patterns of plant distribution, record of rare plant sightings (e.g. here we have a very precious collection of ghost orchids, which were thought to be extinct until 2009 and have only been sighted a hand full of times since), environmental responses to changes in the climate or weather, to educate students, etc. Herbaria can also be an excellent source of collaboration between universitys and the Museum, providing networking potentials.

TEACHERS/PEOPLE IN EDUCATION: Herbaria and museums are a great source of outreach for education of the public. Collections like the economic botany collection provide historical context to important botanical items (e.g Indigo, cinnamon) that have part of our culture behind them. The herbarium also has active researchers working upon vascular plants, lower plants, and diatoms. This work is often used to educate the public at events like museum exhibits, guided tours of the herbarium, conferences, and shows like the RHS flower show. 

What can be found in herbaria?

Vascular plants - Vascular plants are essentially ‘higher plants’ and are composed of all individuals that have water conducting tissue in their ‘stems’; flowers, grasses, trees, ferns, herbs, succulents, etc. are all types of vascular plants. These types of plants are usually stored on archival herbarium sheets, but the method of preparation and storage may depend on the contents of the specimen. Plants that are easily pressed are mounted onto acid free herbaria sheets, with a descriptive label for each specimen. These herbaria specimens must contain reproductive and vegetative organs, which are critical for species identification in plants. Any plant parts that can’t be easily pressed, e.g. tubers, bulbs, fleshy stems, large flowers, cones, fruits, etc are usually dried and placed in boxes or paper bags that are associated with other parts of the specimen.

Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) - Bryophytes include both liverworts and mosses are generally described as ‘lower plants’ and represent some of the oldest organisms on earth. Both groups grow closely packed together in matts on rocks, soil or trees. These types of plant don’t have regular water conducting tissue, so rely heavily on their environment to regulate their water levels. Both mosses and liverworts are unsuitable for ‘pressing’ as key features used in identification would be damaged during the process. Instead, specimens are dried, decontaminated and placed in packets, boxes or paper bags to ensure their long-term storage.

Lichens - Lichens are unique in plant taxonomy because they are an organism composed of two separate organisms in a symbiotic relationship. A lichen is composed of a fungus, and either an algal cell or bacterial cell. The fungal portion of the organism extracts organic carbohydrates and nutrients from the environment, and the algal/bacterial portion of the organism undergoes photosynthesis to capture energy from the sun. Because lichen are difficult to extract from their environment, commonly they are collected still attached to their substrate (rocks, bark, soil crusts) and stored in boxes.

Fungi - fungi are filamentous, simple organisms that occupy almost every habitat on earth. Fungi are not plants and belong in their own kingdom, as they contain no chlorophyll and extract organic nutrients directly from their environment. Surprisingly, most fungi are totally microscopic and invisible to the naked eye dwelling deep in the ground connected by a network of hyphae. It is only a small portion of macroscopic fungi that produce fruiting bodies we know as ‘mushrooms’. Fungal bodies cannot be pressed, they must instead by dried thoroughly and stored in cases or boxes.

Algae - Algae are a very diverse group of non-flowering aquatic organisms that contain chlorophyll, so can photosynthesise to produce energy for themselves. Algae are very important to the earth, and it’s estimated that they produce 70-80% of the earths atmospheric oxygen. The term ‘algae’ covers wide range of organism including sea weed, kelp, ‘pond scum’, algal blooms in lakes or pools, diatoms, etc. These groups are not necessarily closely related and can exist in a huge range of different forms! Collecting and preserving algae can be done in two ways, storing them in liquid to preserve the specimen or dry preserving the specimen on herbarium paper or a microscope slide. What method is best usually depends on the species being collected and its properties.

In November 2017, I started a placement with the Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales (AC-NMW). The four-month placement is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council Valuing Nature Programme. It aims to investigate ways in which the AC-NMW’s Economic Botany Collection can improve societal understanding and valuing of biodiversity and contribute to the AC-NMW well-being duty (Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015). I arrive at this placement with an interest in how plants and the cultivation of plants have the potential to support health and well-being in a range of ways.

Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales Economic Botany Collection

The Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales Economic Botany Collection consists of approximately 3,500 specimens of various items ranging from seeds to medicinal plants, dyes, tannins, cotton and other fibres as well as a range of oils, gums, resins and pine cones.

I have spent the first part of the placement exploring the collection. Highlights include the largest seed in the world – the Coco de Mer – to some of the smallest orchid seeds, a range of naturally dyed wool samples from Cambrian Mills – including Walnut, Elderberry, Indigo, Privet and Madder.

Stories and Seeds

Alongside the diversity of material contained within the collection, there are many stories. The collection includes a range of notation and correspondence of collectors. Exploring the collection also reveals interests of collectors. One of the previous Keepers of Botany at AC-NMW (1962-1984), SG Harrison had a keen interest in drift seeds, found floating along the tidal range of beaches across the world from Riviera Beach, Florida to Malaysia. A key contributor to the collection is AE Wade, who investigated Welsh flora within South Wales and surrounding environs. He contributed seeds of wild plants and flowers found in the verges of Cardiff city, within Cardiff Castle and National Museum Cardiff grounds, Cardiff and Barry Docks and the Vale of Glamorgan. There are also a number of seeds from Singleton Park Botanic Gardens and Kew Gardens.

Materia Medica

The Museum also hold the recently acquired Materia Medica collection from Prof. Terence Turner (School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University).

Next steps

The next phase of the placement invites members of the public explore how the collection might be better used and how new collecting approaches might best be approached. I am looking forward to meeting a range of stakeholders interested in biodiversity and well-being within Wales. One of the forms of engagement will include the co-production of a range of handling boxes of specimens from the Economic Botany Collection with a number of identified stakeholders, and a public consultation at the Museum during February half-term.

Medicinal Plants

The potential for the collection lies not only in enabling the public to learn more about the power of plants. It could also hold information that could support the health and well-being of future generations through scientific research. It is estimated that of the 250,000 species of flowering plants only 5,000 have had their pharmaceutical potential tested in laboratories. Cancer-curing properties have been found in a range of plants including:

  • Yew (Taxus baccata), the needles of which contains yew leaves contained compounds that could be used as starting material for the synthesis of paclitaxel, an active anti-cancer compound which can be used for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
  • Madagascan Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) contains several highly toxic alkaloids which have been used in the treatment of a number of cancers. One derived compound has been credited with raising the survival rate in childhood leukaemia from less than 10% in 1960 to over 90% today [1].
  • Sweet Wormwood (Artemisia annua) has  been used in China for centuries for treatment of malaria – since at least the third century CE. The active principle artemisinin which is a chemical that occurs naturally in the leaves of Sweet wormwood has been identified as a potent anti-malarial agent that may be used to treat one of the most deadly malarial parasites, Plasmodium falciparum [2]. Several semi-synthetic derivatives have now been used for combination therapies for the safe treatment of acute and recurrent malarial infections. There are now a range of programmes selecting and cloning high artemisinin-yielding chemotypes.

There must be more plant medicines to be discovered! By the year 2050, 60,000 species may become extinct. Conservation which preserves biological diversity is vital for the future. The Materia Medica gifted to AC-NMW by Prof Terence Turner of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences may prove to be a useful resource for the future of understanding the healing properties of plants. I am in the process of building links with the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Kew Garden and the Royal College of Physicians garden team to further explore how the Prof Turner’s Materia Medica could be developed as a resource.


The project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council-Valuing Nature Programme. Poppy Nicol is the principal researcher (Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University) currently based at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales. Findings will be presented in a report which will be made publicly available on the NERC Valuing Nature network website.