Amgueddfa Blog

At first glance, The Tomlin Archive helps us to explore the life of John Read le Brockton Tomlin (1864-1954), one of the most highly-respected shell collectors of his time. Alongside Tomlin's extensive shell collection, his correspondence archive holds documents he sent, received and collected, dating from the early 1800’s through to the mid 1900’s. They provide an in-depth look into Tomlin’s life, along with the lives of those he knew.

One letter remains to me, a volunteer helping to record the archive, particularly poignant. The letter in question was written by Professor Dr. Phil Franz Alfred Schilder, a malacologist from Naumburg in Germany.

Schilder wrote the letter to Tomlin on July 11th, 1946. Within this letter, Schilder describes his anxieties surrounding his German heritage in a post-WW2 world, fearing ‘whether any Englishman ever will take notice of any German’ again, because of his nation’s ‘unbelievable barbarism’. Schilder further shares his assumption that Tomlin had been killed in the German bombings of the English South East Coast and Hastings, before it was revealed that the destruction of the English Coast had been falsely exaggerated by Nazi Germany’s official records. This helps us to understand a little more about what life was like for German citizens living in Nazi Germany during the War; Schilder felt very much a victim of Hitlerism, not just through being lied to by figures of authority, but a victim too in the tense and intolerant political and social climate Hitler created in Nazi Germany. Schilder, having a half-Jewish wife, describes their suffering under the Gestapo, living a constant struggle to prevent his wife from being taken to a concentration camp, and being treated himself as a ‘“suspicious subject”’ in Germany.

Schilder describes how he lost his job, Assistant Director of a Biological Institute, for ‘political reasons’ in 1942, and that he only regained his position once the War had ended. Once appointed Professor of Zoology at the University of Halle in November 1945, he delivered a course of lectures, but Schilder reveals how, in the bombings of Germany during the conflict, he lost all of his property. He also describes how his statistical paper on the development of Prosobranch Gastropods during geological times, was ‘destroyed by bomb shells at Frankfurt’. Losing all of his research and property seems, to Schilder, the end of Tomlin’s and his relationship: ‘I can hardly think to see you once more’, and he regretfully states he is sorry to be cut off from a country he spent many ‘fine holidays’ with ‘noble-minded scientific friends’ in.

This letter’s tone is overwhelmingly one of pain and loss. The Second World War was a truly catastrophic event that claimed millions of lives, and in this letter we are able to understand how the conflict ripped apart the lives of survivors too. It destroyed Schilder’s livelihood, years of pain-staking work, his career, and even many friendships he once had. This letter may first and foremost provide an insight into Schilder’s life, but it also tells us so much more about the unforgiving and intolerant social climate created by Hitler which still exists, in part, to this day, the vast number of victims that were affected, and the sheer scale of destruction and loss it had on so many lives.


Transcription of the letter dicussed from F. A. Schilder to J. R. le B. Tomlin:

Naumburg, Germany

July 11 th, 1946.

Dear Tomlin,

Several weeks ago, I wrote to Mr. Winckworth and to Mr. Blok, wondering whether any Englishman ever will take notice of any German, even if he knows that he was far more a victim of Hitlerism than responsible for the unbelievable barbarism of his nation. I did not write to yourself, because I could hardly think you still alive after the stories concerning the total destruction of the English South East coast by the German artillery across the Channel.

Now I learned from an extremely kind answer of Mr. Blok, that the destruction of Hastings was a lie as well as all the other official German records during the war, and that you are well at St. Leonards as before. I was very glad to learn that you are evidently staying in your fine home, in which I enjoyed your and Mrs Tomlin’s kind hospitality several times; and that you recovered from your long life’s first illness just now and visit the British Museum as before. I congratulate you to your recovering, and hope that your illness was not caused, though indirectly, by the events of the war.

I suppose that you know, from my letter to Mr. Winckworth, our personal fate during these last years - - the bloodstained harvest of “Kultur” (as Mr. Blok characterizes them in a very fine way), for a similar letter of mine to Mrs. van Benthem Jutting seems to circulate among my scientific friends in the Netherlands. As Mrs. Schilder is “halfcast jewish”, we had rather to suffer under the Gestapo, and I could hardly prevent her to be taken off into a concentration camp. But on the other side, by the same reason to be a “suspicious subject” I was not obliged to join the army, and possibly to be killed for a government which brought only mischief upon ourselves and upon many friends of ours both in Germany and abroad.

Now, since the American troops occupied Naumburg on my very birthday, last year, all danger both from the Allied Air Force-shells and from the Nazis is over, and we feel much more secure under the Soviet Government than we ever did under the German one during the last twelve years. I have become Assistant Director of our Biological Institute once more - - I had lost this position since 1942 by political reasons - -, and besides I was appointed honorary professor of zoology at the university of Halle, where I now deliver a course of lectures, since November 1945. But we have lost all our property, so that I can hardly think to see you once more, even if travelling to England would be permitted in future - - and I am really sorry to be cut off from a country, in which I spent so fine holidays among noble-minded scientific friends.

During the war, I published a lot of papers on Cypraeacea, even in Tripolis and in Stockholm, but the printing of a big statistical paper on the development of Prosobranch Gastropods during geological times was destroyed by bomb shells at Frankfurt. I wonder, when special scientific MSS. Will be printed again in Germany. I shall send you separate copies of all my papers as soon as such mails will be allowed.

I should be very glad to learn from yourself that you escaped the greatest catastrophe of the white race, and that you recovered fully from your recent illness.

Please tell my kind regards to Mrs. Tomlin.

Yours sincerely

F. A. Schilder

You may have heard that Dippy the Diplodocus has arrived in Cardiff! We recently held the first induction of our new Dippy volunteers, who will be helping out with events and activities taking place throughout the dinosaur’s stay at National Museum Cardiff.

As volunteers our main priority is that visitors get to experience the rest of the museum alongside the main exhibition. Although Dippy will be the centre of attention over the next few months, there will be an array of activities and events designed to broaden the visitor’s experience of the museum. During the training, we learned what these activities will entail, and were given an early preview of the work being done in preparation for Dippy’s stay in Cardiff.

Most of the activities run by volunteers will be based on interactive trolleys at different spots in the museum, in a similar way to the Explore Volunteer trolleys. A lot of the exhibits on these trolleys will be dinosaur-centric, featuring fossils and casts of dinosaur bones. As such we were given a behind-the scenes look at the museum’s paleontological collection, including several dinosaur claws, a cast of a sauropod’s foot and fossils from the Permian era. Some of these fossils will be featured on the trolleys, so keep an eye out for the raptor claws and the Tyrannosaurus teeth! 

There will also be a trolley or two in the art galleys, giving children and adults alike the chance to draw either Dippy, another of the exhibits or anything they like. There will also be several art installations which contribute to the larger theme of the exhibition, namely the environment and climate change. Some of these have already been assembled in collaboration with the Museum's Youth Forum, showing dinosaurs and other animals made out of recyclable materials. This contributes towards the larger theme of the exhibition, exploring ways we can help to protect the planet. 

The new Dippy volunteers also got a glimpse of the virtual reality experience being installed near the Evolution of Wales gallery. Visitors can go on a time-travelling treasure hunt and interact with dinosaurs and other extinct animals while searching for items along the way, from the time of the dinosaurs through to the ice age. Through this VR experience, visitors can see dinosaurs brought to life, thereby putting flesh on the skeletons of Dippy and his prehistoric friends.

Dippy will be staying with us until January next year, and our volunteers will be on hand to enrich our visitors’ experience of this amazing exhibition. Speaking of which, the next blog will feature an appearance from the Diplodocus himself, so here’s looking forward to that!

Yn 2019 mae Tabl Cyfnodol yr Elfennau Cemegol yn 150 mlwydd oed (gweler UNESCO Mae hyn yn gyfle i feddwl am wahanol agweddau’r tabl cyfnodol, gan gynnwys effeithiau cymdeithasol ac economaidd elfennau cemegol.

Sylffwr yw’r bumed elfen fwyaf cyffredin (yn ôl màs) ar y Ddaear, ac mae’n un o’r sylweddau cemegol gaiff ei ddefnyddio fwyaf. Ond mae sylffwr yn gyffredin tu hwnt i’r ddaear: mae gan Io – un o leuadau Galileaidd y blaned Iau – dros 400 o losgfynyddoedd byw sy’n lledaenu lafa llawn sylffwr, gymaint ohono nes bod arwyneb y lleuad yn felyn.


Câi halwynau sylffad haearn, copr ac alwminiwm eu galw’n “fitriol”, oedd yn ymddangos mewn rhestrau o fwynau a wnaed gan y Swmeriaid 4,000 o flynyddoedd yn ôl. Câi asid sylffwrig ei alw’n “olew fitriol”, term a fathwyd gan yr alcemydd Arabaidd Jabir ibn Hayyan yn yr 8fed ganrif. “Brwmstan” oedd yr hen enw am sylffwr yn llosgi, ac arweiniodd hyn at y gred fod Uffern yn arogli fel sylffwr.


Anaml iawn y gwelir sylffwr pur – mae fel arfer i’w ganfod fel mwynau sylffid a sylffad. Mae sylffwr elfennol i’w weld ger ffynhonnau poeth, daeardyllau hydrothermol ac mewn ardaloedd folcanig lle gellir ei fwyngloddio, ond prif ffynhonnell sylffwr ar gyfer diwydiant yw’r mwyn haearn sylffid, pyrit. Ymysg mwynau sylffwr pwysig eraill mae sinabar (mercwri sylffid), galena (plwm sylffid), sffalerit (sinc sylffid), stibnit (antimoni sylffid), gypswm (calsiwm sylffad), alwnit (potasiwm alwminiwm sylffad), a barit (bariwm sylffad). O ganlyniad, mae’r cofnod Mindat (cronfa ddata wych ar gyfer mwynau) ar gyfer sylffwr yn un go hir:


Mae sylffwr yn un o gyfansoddion sylfaenol asid sylffwrig, gaiff ei alw’n ‘Frenin y Cemegau’ oherwydd ei fod mor ddefnyddiol fel deunydd crai neu gyfrwng prosesu. Asid sylffwrig yw’r cemegyn gaiff ei ddefnyddio amlaf yn y byd, ac mae’n ddefnyddiol yn bron bob diwydiant; gan gynnwys puro olew crai ac fel electrolyt mewn batris asid plwm. Caiff dros 230 miliwn tunnell o asid sylffwrig ei gynhyrchu bob blwyddyn dros y byd.


Powdr gwn, cymysgedd o sylffwr, siarcol a photasiwm nitrad a ddyfeisiwyd yn Tsieina yn y 9fed ganrif, yw’r ffrwydryn cynharaf y gwyddom amdano. Sylwodd peirianwyr milwrol Tsieina ar botensial amlwg powdr gwn, ac erbyn OC 904 roeddent yn taflu lympiau o bowdr gwn ar dân gyda chatapyltiau yn ystod gwarchae. Mewn rhyfel cemegol 2,400 o flynyddoedd yn ôl, defnyddiodd y Spartiaid fwg sylffwr yn erbyn milwyr y gelyn. Mae sylffwr yn un o gyfansoddion pwysig nwy mwstard, sydd wedi bod yn cael ei ddefnyddio fel arf cemegol ers y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf.


Mae gan gyfansoddion sylffwrig bob math o ddefnydd therapiwtig, gan gynnwys trin microbau, llid, feirysau, clefyd siwgr, malaria, canser a chyflyrau eraill. Mae llawer o gyffuriau yn cynnwys sylffwr. Ymysg yr enghreifftiau cynnar mae sylffonamidau, “cyffuriau sylffa”. Mae sylffwr yn rhan o sawl gwrthfiotig, gan gynnwys penisilin, ceffalosborin a monolactam.


Mae sylffwr yn un o elfennau hanfodol bywyd. Mae rhai asidau amino (cystein a methionin; asidau amino yw cyfansoddion strwythurol protein) a fitaminau (biotin a thiamin) yn gyfansoddion organosylffwr. Mae deusylffidau (bondiau sylffwr-sylffwr) yn rhoi cryfder mecanyddol ac anhydoddedd i’r protein ceratin (sydd mewn croen, gwallt a phlu). Mae gan lawer o gyfansoddion sylffwr arogl cryf: mae arogl grawnffrwyth a garlleg yn dod o’r cyfansoddion organosylffwr. Nwy hydrogen sylffid sy’n rhoi arogl cryf i wyau drwg.


Mae sylffwr yn un o’r prif faetholion ar gyfer tyfu cnydau. Mae sylffwr yn bwysig gydag ymlifiad maetholion, cynhyrchu cloroffyl a datblygiad hadau. Oherwydd hyn, mae asid sylffwrig yn cael ei ddefnyddio’n helaeth fel gwrtaith. Mae tua 60% o’r pyrit gaiff ei fwyngloddio yn cael ei ddefnyddio i gynhyrchu gwrtaith – gallech ddweud mai pyrit sy’n bwydo’r byd.

Yr Amgylchedd

Mae anfanteision i ddefnyddio sylffwr: mae llosgi glo ac olew yn creu sylffwr deuocsid, sy’n adweithio gyda dŵr yn yr atmosffer i greu asid sylffwrig, un o brif achosion glaw asid, sy’n troi llynnoedd a phridd yn asidig ac yn difrodi adeiladau. Mae draeniad asidig o fwyngloddiau, un o ganlyniadau ocsideiddio pyrit wrth fwyngloddio, yn broblem amgylcheddol fawr, ac yn lladd llawer o fywyd mewn afonydd ledled y byd. Yn ddiweddar, defnyddiwyd carreg galchaidd yn cynnwys llawer o pyrit fel ôl-lenwad ar gyfer stadau tai o gwmpas Dulyn. Achosodd hyn ddifrod i lawer o dai wrth i’r pyrit ocsideiddio. Cafodd yr achos ei ddatrys gan y “Pyrite Resolution Act 2013” a roddodd iawndal i berchnogion tai.

Cadwraeth Sbesimenau Amgueddfa

Oherwydd bod sylffidau haearn yn fwynau hynod adweithiol, mae’n anodd eu cadw mewn casgliadau amgueddfeydd. Am ein bod ni’n gofalu am ein casgliadau, sy’n cynnwys gwella arferion cadwraeth o hyd, rydym wastad yn chwilio am ffyrdd newydd o warchod mwynau bregus. Mae ein project diweddaraf, ar y cyd â Phrifysgol Rhydychen, yn cael ei gynnal gan ein myfyriwr ymchwil doethurol, Kathryn Royce.

Dewch i’n gweld ni!

Os yw hyn wedi codi awydd arnoch i ddysgu mwy, dewch i weld ein sbesimenau sylffwr a pyrit yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd., neu gallwch ddysgu am fwyngloddio a diwydiannau tebyg yn Big Pit Amgueddfa Lofaol Cymru ac Amgueddfa Lechi Cymru

The National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon will be open from 24th October 2019 – just in time for the half term holidays!

Getting a new roof is never straightforward, especially for a museum with 1,700 objects on display.

We’ve been closed to the public for a year while the gallery was turned into a building site. We now have a brand new roof, new lights, display panels and a lick of paint; everything’s looking shiny and new! Now all we need is visitors to come and enjoy it.

What happened to the artefacts?

While the builders have been working, the artefacts have been looked after at National Museum Cardiff.

For some of these objects, it’s the first time they have been out of the display cases for 30 years, so now is the ideal opportunity to have them checked and treated by the archaeology conservator, and photographed so that they can go into Collections Online – our online catalogue where you will be able to see images and details of all of the objects that are on display.

Museum photographer Robin Maggs photographing a Roman glass bottle

Some objects are too big to move and had to stay where they are, so they have been boxed in and kept safe throughout the building work.

Gallery during the works

Before the objects were returned, those display cases needed a thoroughly good clean, and there’s only one way to really clean the inside of a case – that is to get inside it!

Museum Assistant Paul cleaning inside a display case

Ever looked closely at how objects in museums have been held up, or positioned on display? Hopefully not! It’s thanks to the curators that you don’t notice these things, so that your attention is drawn to the objects themselves. It can be painstaking work, but it’s worth it in the end.

Curator Jody Deacon placing the skeleton back in his coffin

Curator Alastair Willis re-displaying Roman coins

What next?

Now the objects are back in their display cases, back home where they belong, ready for you to come and enjoy them. We’re really looking forward to sharing our wonderful collections with you.

We also have all manner of activities, crafts and storytelling going on in half term, not to mention, of course, your opportunity to meet a Roman soldier.

I barhau â Blwyddyn Ryngwladol Tabl Cyfnodol yr Elfennau Cemegol y Cenhedloedd Unedig, rydym wedi dewis arsenig ar gyfer mis Awst.

Cadw’r Bwystfilod – Arsenig a Thacsidermi

Mae’r anifeiliaid tacsidermi yn un o atyniadau mwyaf poblogaidd yr Amgueddfa. Daw’r gair ‘tacsidermi’ o taxis (trefnu) a derma (croen), ac mae’n golygu mowntio neu atgynhyrchu sbesimenau anifeiliaid er mwyn eu harddangos neu eu hastudio.

Mae’r dechneg o greu tacsidermi wedi bod yn datblygu ers dros 300 mlynedd. Yn wreiddiol, doedd y technegau hyn ddim yn cadw’r sbesimenau’n dda iawn, a châi’r mowntiau eu colli oherwydd dirywiad neu drychfilod.

Gwnaed sawl ymgais i wella dulliau cadw, gan ddefnyddio amrywiaeth o ddeunyddiau fel perlysiau, sbeisys a halen ar ffurf powdrau, pastau a thoddiannau. Fodd bynnag, aflwyddiannus oedd y dulliau hyn ar y cyfan.

Yn y 1700au dechreuodd rhai tacsidermwyr ddefnyddio cemegau gwenwynig fel mwynau arsenig neu fercwri clorid i gadw eu sbesimenau. Oherwydd eu natur wenwynig, roedd y cemegau hyn yn atal dirywiad a difrod trychfilod ac yn gwneud i’r tacsidermi bara’n hirach.

Arweiniodd llwyddiant y cemegau hyn at ddatblygu triniaeth ‘sebon arsenig’ i helpu i gadw croen anifeiliaid. Roedd y sebon yn gymysgedd o gamffor, powdr arsenig, halwyn tartar, sebon a phowdr calch – fyddwn i ddim yn defnyddio hwn i ymolchi! Roedd y sebon yn galluogi i’r arsenig weithio mewn ffordd ymarferol drwy rwbio mewn i ochr isaf croen wedi’i lanhau a’i baratoi. Roedd hwn yn ddull poblogaidd iawn ac yn cael ei ddefnyddio mor ddiweddar â’r 1970au.

Nid yw arsenig yn cael ei ddefnyddio fel rhan o’r driniaeth erbyn hyn. Mae hyn oherwydd ei fod yn wenwynig ac yn beryglus i iechyd pobl, ond hefyd oherwydd bod technegau newydd wedi’u darganfod.

Elfen lwyd yr olwg yw arsenig anorganig (As, rhif atomig 33). Mae’n feteloid, sy’n golygu fod ganddo nodweddion metelig ac anfetelig. Mae pobl wedi bod yn ei ddefnyddio mewn amrywiaeth o ffyrdd ers canrifoedd – mewn meddyginiaeth, fel pigment ac fel plaladdwr. Mae arsenig a’i gyfansoddion yn wenwynau cryf iawn, yn ddrwg i’r amgylchedd ac yn garsinogenig. Mae’n wenwynig i bethau byw am ei fod yn tarfu ar weithgarwch ensymau sy’n rhan o gylch egni celloedd byw.

Yw hyn yn golygu fod ein sbesimenau tacsidermi hŷn, sy’n cynnwys arsenig, yn beryglus? Mae hynny’n bosibl os yw’r sbesimen wedi’i ddifrodi ac ochr isaf y croen yn dangos, ond ychydig iawn o risg sydd i sbesimenau cyfan cyn belled â bod camau synhwyrol yn cael eu cymryd megis gwisgo cyfarpar amddiffynnol wrth symud neu wneud gwaith ar sbesimen.

Heddiw, mae’r rhan fwyaf o sbesimenau sy’n cael eu harddangos gennym yn cael eu trin heb ddefnyddio cemegau gwenwynig, ond mae mwy o risg i’r sbesimenau hyn gael eu difrodi gan drychfilod. Felly rydym yn monitro ein casgliadau er mwyn cadw golwg am arwyddion o bla trychfilod, ac yn eu trin gyda dulliau diogel a chynaliadwy megis rhewi os yw hyn yn digwydd.

Ond mae’n rheswm da arall i beidio cyffwrdd y sbesimenau...