Amgueddfa Blog: Museums, Exhibitions and Events

Halloween Traditions

Halloween is fast approaching and no doubt that many children across Wales will be deciding on what scary character they’d like to dress up as, and preparing their pumpkins for carving. Some of these traditions have been adopted from our American friends, but in this blog I’d like to give a flavour of other ways that this time of year was marked in the Welsh calendar.

Harvest and Winter’s Eve marked the period in the calendar where the last of the major agricultural tasks had come to an end, particularly bringing in the harvest before the winter time and marked the end of the old Celtic year referred to as Nos Calan Gaeaf or ‘the eve of the winter kalend’ which signified the end of summer and the beginning of winter. To mark this a feast was often held to thank neighbours for their help with the harvest, music and food would be provided. Calan Gaeaf was also associated with the slaughter of farm animals for the winter.

It was on Nos Calan Gaeaf or All-Hallows Eve that the strangest things were said to occur. Not only were spirits said to roam freely but it was believed that the ghosts of the dead were to be seen at midnight on every stile. In different parts of Wales these ghosts took on different characters but two of the most common were the ladi wen [white lady], and mainly in North Wales the tail-less black sow [hwch ddu gwta] and was associated with lighting bonfires after dark, as the fire died down they feared the appearance of the black sow and would chant verses such as:

Adref, adref am y cynta’, Hwch Ddu Gwta a gipio’r ola’

Be sure you are the first at home, the tail-less black sow is sure to roam.

And also

Hwch Ddu Gwta a Ladi Wen heb ddim pen

Hwch Ddu Gwta a gipio’r ola’

Hwch Ddu Gwta nos G’langaea

Lladron yn dwad tan weu sana.

The black sow and headless white lady,

Will try and catch the last to leave,

Thieves abound knitting stockings,

Beware the tail-less black sow on winter’s eve.

Superstitions

Much superstition was also attributed to this time of year especially in a fortune telling capacity. The main questions to be answered were who was to be married and who was to meet an untimely death. The types of fortune telling practices depended on the area. In Montgomeryshire they created a mash of nine ingredients which included potatoes, carrots, turnips, peas, parsnips, leeks, pepper and salt and mixed with milk and in the centre was placed a wedding ring. Each participant would try a bit of the mash and if they were lucky enough to find the ring it would indicate an imminent marriage! 

Another fortune telling was peeling an apple without breaking the skin and thrown over the shoulder. The letter created would indicate the initial of your future spouse. In the Llandysul area three bowls would be filled. One with soil, one with water containing sediment and one with clean water. The participant would be blindfolded and would be asked to touch one of the bowls. The first prophesised death before marriage, the second a troubled marriage and the third a successful marriage. Games were also played such as apple bobbing or the more dangerous version was trying to grab a dangling apple with your teeth which also had a candle attached!

Frightening objects in the collection

There are a number of unusual objects in the collection. One of these is a charm doll from Belgium from the Lovett collection, collected by Edward Lovett (1852-1933) who had a fascination for charms – lucky or otherwise. It’s a doll made of wax and could be used to hurt people by having pins and sharp object inserted into it. By melting the wax doll slowly in a chimney, it could even bring about someone’s painful lingering death.

Also in the collection is a witchcraft bottle with a charm inside. It’s never been opened and it’s thought that bottles such as this were placed inside walls and buildings to guard against evil spirits.

Ghost Stories from the Oral History Archive

Many thousands of people have been recorded by the staff at St Fagans over the years and among these recordings are ghostly stories and experiences remembered by interviewees or told to them by past generations. Some of these have been put on People’s Collection Wales. Click on the links below and listen to a selection. The lady in the second clip remembers talk of the Hwch Ddu Gwta or Tail-less Black Sow as mentioned above. Below is also an image of The Conjuror, Evan Griffiths talked about in the third clip.   

McClaren Colliery Ghost 

https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/606763

Hwch Ddu Gwta   

https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/606778

Y Crinjar/ The Conjuror

https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/606781

If you’re looking for fun Halloween activities to do at home, why not download our activity sheets? You can decorate a pumpkin or write your own spell.

 

Decorate a Pumpkin

 

Write a Spell

For me and the rest of the staff at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, it seems inconceivable that 15 years have passed since we welcomed our first visitors on the 17th of October 2005. Although in human terms being 15 is well on the way to being a ‘grown-up’, for everyone at the Waterfront Museum, we still feel very young, fresh and experimental.

I think there are a number of reasons for this.

First, our visitors are from a wide range of backgrounds and their motivation for visiting is varied. Of the quarter of a million visits the Waterfront Museum receives each year, a good proportion are first time visitors from outside the south-west of Wales. They are particularly attracted by innovative displays that tell the human story of Welsh industrialisation over the past three centuries with key objects from the collections of Amgueddfa Cymru and the City of Swansea explained through interactive interpretation. But although part of the family of Wales’ national museums, the Waterfront Museum is also very much a local museum, and most of the rest of our visitors are ‘regulars’, returning time and again to see the many temporary exhibitions devised or hosted by us each year, or attend the 300 or so free events and hands-on activities that form such an important part of our annual programme.

Second, the Waterfront Museum is a vast storehouse of materials and opportunities for learning and inspiration. In the same way that images can tell many stories, historic artefacts are points of departure, not fixed destinations for understanding, feelings and creativity. So the museum’s learning programmes for all ages always have an inter-disciplinary approach with lots of human stories and fun. Our unofficial motto is, ‘Try anything once, so long as it’s legal and safe’!

Third, the Waterfront Museum plays an important part in the wider cultural and economic life of the Swansea region. Many organisations and communities use the museum for meetings, a location in which to communicate their work to a wider public, or as a place for celebration. The museum is also a venue that can be hired for weddings, private and corporate meetings and entertaining. Here its central location, stunning architecture and fascinating displays really help to make these events so special.

Fourth, the Waterfront Museum has always been committed to the furthering the social purpose of our heritage. We have consistently worked to use our collections and facilities to help strengthen community identities, make newcomers to Swansea feel welcome and help disadvantaged people realise their potential by gaining skills and fostering ambition and self-respect.

And last, but by no means least, the Waterfront has always been blessed with amazing staff. We aim to appoint ‘people’ people, who enjoy welcoming our visitors, are helpful and knowledgeable and are great at working together as a dynamic team. Besides being great at their ‘official’ jobs, many possess other skills that we have been able to draw upon, especially in our events and learning programmes.

So what of the future? Despite the current difficulties with the Covid19 pandemic we are sure that the next fifteen years shall be as exciting and rewarding as the last fifteen. The redevelopment of the city centre and especially the new arena nearby will provide great opportunities to engage with different audiences. The ever-expanding online digital world will present us with many new ways to celebrate Welsh industry and innovation of both the past and today to a global audience. It is also likely that the experiences of the last eight months will make us all appreciate even more the delights of experiencing ‘real’ things in a place like the Waterfront Museum that is so equipped as a place for people to meet, engage with one another, learn and have fun.

 

Keep Wales Tidy has unveiled this year’s Green Flag Award winners – the international mark of a quality park or green space. 

The National Waterfront, Swansea has achieved the prestigious Green Flag Community Award in recognition of its dedicated volunteer involvement, high environmental standards and commitment to delivering great quality green space.

The Green Flag Community Award is designed to help promote quality green spaces that are accessible to all.  They are a great way to highlight the work that the fabulous volunteers have done, and to show that we are using the museums garden to grow produce that is donated to groups in need across the city. 

GRAFT volunteers taking a break from harvesting at the gardens at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

In 2018, the National Waterfront Museum transformed the Museum's once industrial courtyard into a beautiful, sustainable, organic growing environment; creating an edible landscape to encourage participation and conversation around land use, food and sustainability in an accessible and empowering way. It was created and continues to be managed by GRAFT, the Museum’s land and educational project, and it forms a permanent piece of green infrastructure within Swansea City Centre. The project is also a socially engaged work of art by artist Owen Griffiths, and was originally commissioned as part of Now the Hero / Nawr Yr Arwr in 2018 funded by 1418NOW as part of a huge UK wide cultural project commemorating the first World War. Today, GRAFT works with community groups from a wide range of backgrounds across the city, who came together, to garden, grow, share food and conviviality.

Speaking on behalf of the Waterfront Museum’s GRAFT team, Senior Learning, Participation and Interpretation Officer, Zoe Gealy said: “The GRAFT team at The National Waterfront Museum are delighted to have received this Green Flag, it really highlights the fabulous work our amazing volunteers have put in since we started in 2018 and is such a great accolade during a particularly challenging year for us all.  We look forward to many more years of growing and developing our green space and will continue to create learning and volunteering opportunities, as well as donating produce to the fantastic charities across the city who are providing services for those in need”.   

The National Waterfront Museum is one of a family of seven museums and collections centres under the banner of Amgueddfa Cymru  - National Museum of Wales, which offers free entry thanks to the support of the Welsh Government. Together, they house the nation's art, history, heritage and science collections, which will continue to grow so that they can be used and enjoyed by present and future generations.

127 community managed green spaces across the country have met the high standards needed to receive the Green Flag Community Award. This means that Wales still holds a third of the UK’s community Green Flag sites.

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government. Independent green space experts volunteered their time in early autumn to judge applicant sites against eight strict criteria, including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management, and community involvement.

Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: "The pandemic has shown just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. For many of us, they have been a haven on our doorstep, benefitting our health and well-being. The success of National Waterfront Museum in achieving the Green Flag Community Award is a testament to the volunteers who have maintained excellent standards under the most challenging circumstances this year. I’d like to congratulate and thank them all for their outstanding commitment.”

A full list of award winners can be found on the Keep Wales Tidy website www.keepwalestidy.cymru/greenflag

 

 

 

Keep Wales Tidy has unveiled this year’s Green Flag Award winners – the international mark of a quality park or green space. 

The National Wool Museum in Carmarthenshire has achieved the prestigious Green Flag Community Award in recognition of its dedicated volunteer involvement, high environmental standards and commitment to delivering great quality green space.

The museum tells the story of one of Wales' most important and widespread industries, wool. Drefach Felindre in the beautiful Teifi valley was once a thriving center for the woolen industry supplying fabrics to the world. While sharing the fascinating history of this industry, the museum also plays an important role in keeping alive its traditional skills, as well as promoting wool as a sustainable material for our future: for fashion fabrics, home goods and as building and insulation fibre.

National Wool Museum Volunteers Pixie Harcourt and Maureen Bibby.

Speaking about the award, Ann Whitall, National Wool Museum Manager, said: "We are delighted to receive this recognition of the work we’e doing to support local biodiversity and sustainable practices. We have a long history of working closely with our local community to ensure that our activities make a positive contribution to the local rural economy. That includes our role as a tourist attraction and educational center, but increasingly it also means that we are developing a role in supporting the renaissance of wool as a future fibre, and stimulating a revival in its use and value."

The National Wool Museum is one of a family of seven museums and collections centres under the banner of Amgueddfa Cymru  - National Museum of Wales, which offers free entry thanks to the support of the Welsh Government. Together, they house the nation's art, history, heritage and science collections, which will continue to grow so that they can be used and enjoyed by present and future generations.

127 community managed green spaces across the country have met the high standards needed to receive the Green Flag Community Award. This means that Wales still holds a third of the UK’s community Green Flag sites.

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government. Independent green space experts volunteered their time in early autumn to judge applicant sites against eight strict criteria, including biodiversity, cleanliness, environmental management, and community involvement.

Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: "The pandemic has shown just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. For many of us, they have been a haven on our doorstep, benefitting our health and well-being. The success of National Wool Museum in achieving the Green Flag Community Award is a testament to the volunteers who have maintained excellent standards under the most challenging circumstances this year. I’d like to congratulate and thank them all for their outstanding commitment.”

A full list of award winners can be found on the Keep Wales Tidy website www.keepwalestidy.cymru/greenflag

This award was awarded to the National Wool Museum's Dye Garden for which the National Wool Museum’s Gardening Volunteers are responsible. It is a wonderful sustainable garden filled with a variety of plants which have been traditionally used for their natural dyes. Flowers, leaves and roots are harvested as the season progresses and dried or frozen ready for dyeing, for example, fleece, yarn or fabric which usually happen in the end of season Autumn workshops. The Gardening Volunteers take an active role in the community, for example, they work with the local primary school eco group offering different activities including dye and sustainable gardening workshops. The National Wool Museum's garden volunteers are: 

Jilly Doe, Jo Taylor, Steve Rees, Verrinia Rees, Pixie Harcourt, Maureen Bibby, Susan Martin, Helen Fogden.

On Saturday 17th October, our museum marks 15 years since opening its doors. And as we’re all in lockdown around here, and probably in need of cheering up, we wondered whether you’d like to share in some of our celebrations? Birthdays need a cake, so we’re inviting you cake bakers and decorators to get creative and see what of our museum will inspire a delicious birthday cake! We’ve a £50 voucher to spend in our National Museums Shop for the winning baker!

National Waterfront Museum turns 15 on 17th October 2020

It could be inspired by our building, one of our exhibits or an event you remember well. Just let your creativity run wild, then get your aprons and your thinking caps on! Make, bake and decorate a 15th birthday cake for the National Waterfront Museum and send us a picture via twitter or Facebook by 3pm on Saturday 17th October. See details below.

Our museum captain these 15 years, Steph Mastoris will judge the entries and we’ll announce the winner on Tuesday 20th October. The baker of the best birthday cake will win a £50 National Musuems voucher to spend in our shops.

You can post pictures of your cake on Twitter, making sure to include @The_Waterfront in your tweet, or to our special Birthday Cake Competition Facebook Event site https://www.facebook.com/events/352694139397072

Good luck - ready....steady.....bake!!

 

Terms & Conditions
· The Promoter is: Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru / the National Museum of Wales (Charity Registration number: 525774) whose registered office is at Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NP.
· Employees of the National Museum of Wales or their families, or anyone else connected in any way with the competition, shall not be permitted to enter the competition.
· There is no entry fee to the competition and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
· The promoter will only consider one entry per participating Facebook or Twitter account.
· Entries which put entrants, staff or any other persons at risk will not be eligible for this competition
· The Promoter is not responsible for any physical injury or harm to entrants or any other persons in the course of participating in this competition
· It is the Entrant’s responsibility to ensure that they take necessary precautions to guard their own safety, and the safety of any other persons present, while participating in this competition
· Closing date for entry will be 17 October 2020 at 15.00. After this date no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
· No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for any reason. Proof of posting is not proof of receipt.
· The Promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of any event outside of the Promoter's control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the Promoter.
· The Promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
· No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
· Winners will be chosen on merit by a representative of the Promoter.
· The winners will be notified via Facebook or Twitter by 21 October. If the winners cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 72 hours of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
· The Promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected, or to where it should be posted
· The Promoter's decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
· The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by UK Law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the UK.
· By entering this competition, an entrant releases Facebook and twitter from any or all liability in connection with this contest
· All entrants agree that National Museum of Wales can display and share their entries on their website and social media channels, with name credit where the information is available. Submitted entries will remain the intellectual property of the entrants.
· Winners agree to post an acknowledgement Facebook or twitter, mentioning @amgueddfacymru in their message.
· The winner agrees to the use of their name, likeness and entry in any publicity material.
· Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant's prior consent.
· Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
· This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or any other social network. You are providing your personal information to the Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and not to any other party. The information provided will be used in conjunction with the Data Protection Act.