Amgueddfa Blog

Sleepovers at Llys Llywelyn

National Museum Wales are excited to launch our sleepover programme at Llys Llywelyn this summer.

Llys Llywelyn is a recreation of a Royal Court of the Princes of Gwynedd used during the 13th century. It is based on the surviving remains of Llys Rhosyr in the south-western corner of Anglesey.

Schools have the opportunity to stay at the hall for our Llys Llywelyn sleepovers, which are running from April until October. During the day the group will take part in a in a role play workshop to find out more about life in the Court of Llywelyn. In the evening the group will be able to explore St Fagans after hours, play medieval games and sleep under the painted eves of this magnificent building.

The package includes an hour long workshop, self-facilitated evening activities, evening meal, hot chocolate, breakfast and overnight accommodation.

Looking for funding to attend a Llys Llywelyn sleepover? Schools can apply to the Go and See grant for funding to visit cultural organisations.

Classroom Resources

As well as the exciting Llys Llywelyn we have also launched a package of classroom resources to help teach the Age of the Princes.

National Museum Wales has worked in partnership with National Library Wales, Cadw, and Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, to create the resources. The themes include:
Overview, Evidence, Every Day Life, Castles and Courts, Welsh Rulers, and Conquest of Wales. All the resources use collections from each of the partner organisations to bring to life the Age of the Princes.

This is a community project led by volunteers from Drefach Felindre Gardening Club in conjunction with the National Wool Museum and involving the local primary school’s Eco group. The main aim is to provide a sustainable attractive garden using plants that traditionally have been used for their natural dyes. The plant materials are harvested and used in the end of season workshops.

Early in 2019, the Natural Dye Garden Group was approached by Dr. Nicol, of the Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University, regarding the Economic Botany Collection. This is held in the National Museum Cardiff.

Dr. Nicol had met with the group some time previously to help explore how this collection of 3,500 specimens might support the public’s understanding and valuing of biodiversity. These specimens were wide ranging but only included one specimen of dye plant material from the UK.

The National Museum asked if the Natural Dye Garden Group could provide a contribution to the Economic Botany Collection to expand the range of dye plants held. We were delighted to be able to help.

Every year plant materials from the Natural Dye Garden are harvested and stored for use in the natural dye workshops. From this resource it was possible to provide 13 specimens, labelled and boxed for the Economic Botany Collection.

Additionally, another box was prepared of corresponding dyed samples of wool fibre. In all, 20 colours were included, as examples of colour modifications were added such as yellow from weld overdyed with blue from woad to make green.

These boxes have significantly expanded the natural dye plant selection of the Economic Botany Collection and have all been grown on the National Wool Museum site here in West Wales.

Hi my name is Jake and I'm a Young Heritage Leader at the National Museum. I'm also an arist, a person, bisexual, I make music and am interested in loads of things. This year I'm running the museum's PRIDE stall. Since the museum currently is the home of some beautiful living snakes at the Snakes! Exhibition and since snakes (like many other animals) display a whole spectrum of gender and sexuality, I've decided to make our PRIDE presence snake-themed. There will be gummi snakes, snakes and ladders, and more - so come say hello at PRIDE!

So recently I have dedicated my time into researching snakes, I have begun to understand them as animals that reflect behaviours we see in humans. They are animals I can relate to. The field of personality research in reptiles is relatively new, but it seems to be agreed that the actions of snakes come from a place of multi-layered motive. They are distinct in their independence, from pattern to actions and relationships. Some people argue that animal sexuality is purely instinctive, but I don't think we give them enough credit; they also have emotions and intelligence and agency, just in a different way. This is why it is interesting to learn and understand how they approach life and the patterns we can see in this.

A wide spectrum of sexuality and gender fluidity has been observed within nature for a long time. These behaviours are presented through sexual activity, courtship and pair bonding.  

Same sex relationships have been observed in over 500 species of animals ranging from apes to worms. Science has allowed us to discover LGBTQ+ in animal life, allowing us to observe how natural our differences are. Snakes embody many different characteristics that fall in line with our idea of queer, this is why they are a wonderful animal representation for the LGBTQ+ community. 

 

Common Garter Snake  

Within this type of snake we can observe a presentation of sex as a means of reproduction. The male and female snakes make bonds with the same gender, they choose their partners carefully. This is of interest as it allows us to see a level of thought in snakes when it comes to partnership. The common garter snake presents us with an interesting case in an understanding of reproduction with purpose. Are they 'straight'? 'Cis'? They are common garter snakes.

 

Gopher Snake

In these snakes we see that male courtship is not just aimed at females, it applies to all. Bonds are made between male snakes, and many adapt to the role a female. We can see within these snakes an adapting nature, a choice to become romantic with all. This allows for us to find a lack of judgment in them, this is how they proceed and it isn't seen with any negativity. Are they 'trans'? 'Gay', 'pan', 'genderfluid', 'nonbinary' or 'nonconforming'? They are gopher snakes, just living their best lives.

 

Speckled Rattlesnake

We can observe within this type that fights between same sex snakes can lead to a romantic leaning partnership.This shows us the dynamic of alpha energy becoming respect, which in turn becomes passion. It is vital to view this animal in the light of complexity, it allows for narratives to become apparent. Are they a little bit 'kinky'? Are they 'gay'? Just speckled rattlesnakes being speckled rattlesnakes.

 

Flower Pot Snake

This female-only species of snake produce their offspring by parthenogenesis, also known as asexual reproduction. This means they create families without the need of partners. The female snakes can self-fertilise. This breaks down our understanding of gender dynamics within the animal kingdom. It begins the journey into the adventure of partnerships without thought of reproduction, and whether romantic bonding is of any relevance to them. Are they 'asexual'? These queens of the animal kingdom are also completely blind by the way, but they don't need anyone to do whatever they like.

 

Hopefully this has started your journey into finding narratives in animals, it is a wonderful tool and completely discredits outdated views that judge LGBTQ+ people as 'against nature. WHat nonsense! It gives us power to see ourselves reflected in nature, history and the wider world. There is a story behind everything and it's our job to find those stories, it allows us to begin to understand the actions of any animal on Earth. I hope it has also taught you about LGBTQ+ in nature, this gives us a sense of calm as we observe ourselves in the wild. 

 

If you want to get involved with the museum, join the Youth Forum or become a Young Heritage Leader, get in touch via youth.forum@museumwales.ac.uk

Check out more of Jake's work here: https://jakeagriffiths.bandcamp.com/

Queer Snakes at Pride and other youth-led projects across the museum are part of the Hands on Heritage project, made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund's Kick the Dust Grant. Diolch en fwar to The Fund and all our National Lottery Players - keeping our fingers crossed for you!

Shwmae! My name is Adelle, and I’m a PhD student at Cardiff University studying Iron Age mortuary practice in southwest Britain. I’m going to tell you about my amazing experience and some things I learned volunteering as part of the excavation team of the now-famous Iron Age chariot burial in Pembrokeshire. I’ll start from the beginning…

I thought I’d gotten a nice tan during the initial excavation in 2018, but it was only dirt. *Sigh*

The Story

I received an email in the spring of 2018 inviting me to help with an excavation of what was thought to be an Iron Age hoard discovered in a farmer’s field somewhere in Pembrokeshire. I had dreamt of the day I’d get to excavate anything Iron Age, as my passion for Welsh prehistory inspired me to move from my home in rural Kentucky (USA) to study at Cardiff. I had no idea that this opportunity would lead to the most rewarding, enriching, and educational experiences of my life.

The dig site was in a beautiful field near the entrance to a spectacular Iron Age promontory fort that was previously unknown. The thought that there is still so much left to discover about the prehistory of Wales left me buzzing with inspiration and wonder. I had never been to this farm in Pembrokeshire but it somehow felt warm and familiar, like an old friend; it felt like coming home after a very long journey.

Left to right: Chariot burial volunteers Tiffany Treadway, Felicity Sage (Dyfed Archaeological Trust), Owen Lazzari, Adelle Bricking (me!), and Michael Legge enjoying the beautiful scenery and each other’s’ company after a long day of work.

 

 

The initial excavation was…hot, to put it mildly! The clay we were digging baked in the sun as temperatures climbed to 32 degrees. The archaeology didn’t quite make sense as we searched for the rest of the “hoard”. And then, Mark Lewis, the curator at the National Roman Legion Museum at Caerleon (and whom I am pretty sure is actually a Time Lord from Gallifrey), uncovered the top of a massive iron tyre. This was no hoard—it was a chariot burial. The first one found outside of Yorkshire and Edinburgh; here in Wales. The whole team stopped and gathered around the tyre. We stood there in silence in a mutual understanding that everything we thought we knew about the Iron Age in Wales was about to change. Some of us grabbed onto each other in fear of falling off the face of the earth as our worlds turned upside down! 

The excavation team gathered around the tyre in silent agreement that this is the coolest thing that any of us have ever experienced.

A chariot burial was beyond our timescale, and we needed the help of skilled conservators to ensure the survival of the 2,000 year-old metalwork. It was a long year until we were able to go back to uncover the chariot. With a bigger team, more time, more rainfall and more volunteers, we successfully uncovered the first chariot burial in Wales this spring. I sometimes go down to the Archaeology Conservation Laboratory at the National Museum Cardiff to say hello to the chariot pieces and wish them luck as they embark on their new journey towards restoration! Louise Mumford, our archaeological conservator, is like a wizard bringing ancient and long-forgotten objects back to their former glory.

What I Learned

I learned more about archaeology during that excavation than I ever could have imagined. The combined knowledge of these archaeologists that I have long admired was mind-boggling, and I tried my best to soak in every delicious morsel of free expertise. I had read some of their books; these men and women had been teaching me since before I left Kentucky. As we discussed practice during work and theory over dinner, I felt myself becoming much more confident as an archaeologist.

Some of the dig team from Dyfed Archaeological Trust and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and I carefully excavating the chariot under the shelter during the second excavation season.

Aside from growing as a researcher, I gained a much greater understanding for the public’s perception of archaeology. The archaeology of Wales is not a niche interest for academics—as heritage, it belongs to everyone, and people are very often as enthusiastic about it as I am. For example, one of my favourite aspects of the excavation was spending time with the farmer who owns the land and his family. It was heart-warming to see their interest in not just the things we were digging up, but how we were doing it. To have our field of work understood and appreciated for the (sometimes painfully slow) process that it is, was rewarding.

After the chariot was excavated and all the parts safely lifted. A circular ring ditch with an entrance surrounded the chariot burial.

This satisfying combination of archaeological practice and public engagement has inspired me to continue volunteering at the museum for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru). Without PAS, this excavation wouldn’t have happened, and this significant part Wales’ story would have remained untold. PAS is giving an invaluable gift to the people of Wales by documenting their material heritage and making it easily accessible to everyone. I am honoured to be a part of it, and I feel better equipped to use my own research to give back to the public.

Get involved!

I encourage everyone to volunteer for archaeological excavations. It’s one thing to see beautiful ancient objects behind glass cases, or 2D images in a book, but to be there as the earth gives way and the object is reborn from it, is nothing short of magical. It’s dirty, often laborious, but the friendships made, the knowledge gained, and the magical sense of discovery is worth every drop of sweat as we rediscover lost memories from our ancient past.

Me (right) recording Mark Lewis (left) as he prepares to help lift the tyres during the second excavation season. If digging isn’t your thing, there’s lots of other jobs to do at an excavation, including photography and recording video footage.

I hope to see some new faces at future excavations. Iechyd da!

 

Rediscover Roman treasure found in Caerleon in 1926!

Use the App to explore the Amphitheatre & Barracks at Caerleon. Follow clues and meet historical characters to help you discover the Museum’s treasures - where they were once found. If you find them all you will unlock a virtual National Roman National Roman Legion Museum. This App is a partnership project between Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and Cadw. It links museum treasures to the places where they were once found at the historic sites maintained by Cadw in Caereon.

 

How to play:

  • Use your device & the treasure map to find the six hidden clues in the Amphitheatre and barracks.
  • You must walk to each of the six picture clues in the grid.
  • When you are near the treasure a coin will appear on your device. Each coin reveals a treasure & activity.
  • Find them all to unlock a virtual National Roman Legion Museum!

 

FAQ

  • The app requires Android 4.3 or iOS 9.1 or later. Please note the app is not compatible with some budget smartphones. 
  • You will need a data connection during the experience.
  • If you are having a problem downloading the app make sure you have a good internet connection and that you have enough storage space on your phone.

 

Cost: Free 

Suitability: for Families

Duration: 30-50mins

Download for iPhone

Download for Android