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Llys Llywelyn - illuminating the past

Dafydd Wiliam, 27 July 2018

Llys Llywelyn, the Museum’s latest historical building project, is nearing completion and scheduled to open in October.

For more background information about the recreated Llys, see these articles:

An important aspect of recreating this 12th century Royal court is the decorative painting scheme within the hall. Buildings from this period often feature an abundance of finely carved stonework, depicting human or animal heads and repeating geometric patterns. They would have been painted originally and only in rare cases does the painted pattern survive.  

So that the hall can look the part, we are recreating common painted themes in the Romanesque style of the period with the help of our Conservation volunteers. The white-washed window reveals are being painted to resemble cut and dressed blocks of masonry known as ashlar. This was a common trick used to make a building look more expensive than it was.

The substantial timber frame within the Hall is also being painted. The oak posts are decorated with alternating red and white chevrons based on the carved stone columns seen within the 12th century Penmon Priory in Anglesey. As this is only 19 miles from the site of the original court at Rhosyr this is a primary source of information. The large semi-circular arches that bridge the distance between the posts are also being painted. As these are so high-up, we’re using modern lifting platforms to help us reach. They are also decorated to mimic ashlar blocks.

The posts and whitewashed walls are prepared for the paint by applying a liquid size made from boiled rabbit-skin. A top-coat of red ochre or chalk white is then applied. The distinctive painting scheme will be complemented by colourful embroidered cloths that will adorn the high-status end of the hall. Along with fine tableware, they will help create a Hall fit for Princes.

Llys Llywelyn is part of a major redevelopment project  to transform St Fagans National Museum of History. It is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the National Lottery, the Welsh Government and many others.

Dafydd Wiliam

Principal Curator of Historic Buildings
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