: Community Engagement

A day in Archaeology - Prehistoric stone tools

Chloe Ward, 1 May 2024

by Sam, Mark, Hannah and Caitlin Amguedfa Cymru-Museum Wales volunteers

We are four volunteers who answered the volunteering opportunity advert on the Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales website, organised by Elizabeth Walker, Principal Curator at the Museum. The opportunity was to help sort through and catalogue a collection of prehistoric stone tools.

The tools are from the substantial collection made by Henry Stopes, a private collector, in the late 19th Century. There are estimated to be between 50,000 to 70,000 artefacts, with half a million years of history, mostly British, but the collection also contains some mysterious overseas objects.

Each Thursday, with Elizabeth, we spend three hours sorting through the boxes, numbering and categorising each item. It is exciting work and is often stopped when someone finds something so unusual, they want to share it with the group. Such as a Neolithic polished axe head, broken and then clearly recycled or even a Neolithic carved ball. Elizabeth will always help us identify and assist with interesting facts about the stone tools. As we work we also hold interesting discussions which have so far ranged from Beyonce to Boer War; Neanderthals to Korean horror films! Who knows what next weeks’ topics will be.

We, as volunteers, feel fortunate to have this opportunity to be involved in this hands-on museum work, to offer our time and to be part of the recording of the Henry Stopes collection which will help with future stone tool research. Not only is this opportunity an interesting way to see how the behind the scenes works at a museum, the knowledge gained is incredibly useful to our future careers in archaeology. The amount we have all learned from just 3 hours a week is much larger than we would have thought.

So far we have sorted, repackaged and documented 4,659 tools and entered 2,265 new entries into the collection database. 


Josh David-Read, 11 April 2024

“March brings breezes, loud and shrill, 
To stir the dancing daffodil.” Sara Coleridge, The Garden Year 

March is Most Likely the Gardener's Busiest Month!

This month has consisted of sowing, sowing, and more sowing! We've sown different varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, runner beans, chilies, watermelons, salad leaves, herbs, and roots (to name a few!). Most have started life in propagators in the orange container (more on that later) or in the polytunnel, as most seedlings prefer a warm environment to germinate. Hardier seeds like spinach have been directly sown outside.

Move Over, Marvin Gaye!

Ani and Laurence expertly pruned the grapevine in the polytunnel. This is the time to cut back the vine to encourage new growth. Don't be afraid to cut back more than you think. The rule of thumb is to choose a few of the strongest canes to leave and prune the rest. Typically, people choose 10 to 12 good canes and shorten them to four or five buds each.

The Hügelkultur Method

We tried the Hügelkultur method with our raised beds alongside the glass panels of the colonnade. In Hügelkultur, you layer different organic materials together, which will slowly release nutrients into the soil for years to come. To try it yourself, simply add a base layer of cardboard, wood such as logs and smaller dried twigs, and hay or grass cuttings, followed by green organic material. Then layer a lot of compost and topsoil, and you're ready to plant. Please note that the soil level will fall as the layers decompose. In this case, simply add another layer of soil to the top.

Bye-Bye, Orange!

This month has seen us update one of the staples in the GRAFT garden: the orange container. Over the years, the vibrant orange container has, well, become a bit tired and showed its age. So we decided to give it a facelift and employed the expertise of brothers Hassan and Kareem, who designed and painted the container. It's turned some heads and really given the garden a new lease on life! The design reflects the important elements of the garden and connects to nature.

A Cockleshell Pathway

We took delivery of some Penclawdd cockles to build a cockleshell pathway, making the garden more accessible, especially on rainy days. This will be an ongoing project, so watch this space!

Natural Dyes Workshop

On Thursday, March 14th, GRAFT volunteers visited the National Wool Museum in Drefach to learn about natural dyes and how to incorporate them into the GRAFT garden.

Susan taught everyone about the natural dyeing process using different plants. Then, everyone had a go at dyeing wool themselves in various colors. They even gave GRAFT seeds to get started, which we plan to plant this month!

Chai and Chat Takeover 

We are fortunate to be able to work with and host many community events and groups here at the Waterfront Museum! We're even more fortunate to offer them a taste of different aspects of the museum. On Wednesday, March 27th, the Chai and Chat group, which meets weekly at the museum, visited GRAFT and helped plant some seeds, transplant tomato seedlings, move strawberry plants, and harvest salad from our polytunnel. We're excited to welcome them back to the garden in the future!

Farewell, Zoë!

March also sees us sadly say farewell to one of the project founders, Zoë, who will be leaving the museum for new adventures! She leaves a great legacy in GRAFT and will be missed by all the volunteers, partners, and staff who use the garden.

I will be updating readers every month or two months with the general work we have done in the garden. We will pass on information we have learnt, things we have done well (and not so well) and any tips for budding gardeners (or experienced gardeners) out there to take to your own green space. I will also include a seasonal recipe from The Shared Plate using ingredients from GRAFT. 

GRAFT January

Josh David-Read, 21 March 2024

“No matter how long the winter, the spring is sure to follow”. 

For many March is the month to begin sowing, planting and getting excited for a year full of harvest. In GRAFT the Volunteers have not stopped and waited for March but instead have ploughed through the cold winter weather to fix and prepare the garden for the year ahead. 


January 12th and 19th was our first sessions back after a couple of weeks off. With the bad weather and power cuts in the museum we stuck to maintenance jobs, clearing  some of our raised beds and preparing beds ready to be planted later in the year. Even more exciting we sorted all of the seeds into month order [TOP TIP] which helped us to plan what seeds we needed to buy from our suppliers (Real Seeds, and the Incredible Seed Hub) but also forward plan the growing schedule for the year. 

We also cleared and cut back our Birch and planted in some blackthorn and hawthorn. We did this to make the hedge more attractive to different wild-life species and also harvest lovely tasting berries. 

Compost glorious compost! Compost is so important to the garden for many reasons. Not only does it reduce waste, reduces landfill and saves water but it also enriches the soil and adds lots of microorganisms to it. It’s great for the environment By composting at home you will reduce your carbon footprint by not buying factory-made fertilisers. [TOP TIP] only add the following to your compost pile: Fruit scraps, Vegetable scraps, Coffee grounds, Eggshells (though they can take a while to break down), Grass and plant clippings. DON’T add Bread, Diary Products, Rice and anything not biodegradable, such as plastics, shiny paper, stickers and some tea bag brands. 

Annie led Graft Volunteers alongside Westcross Day Care to empty our compost out, sieve it and picked out worms to add back into the compost.

 I will be updating readers every month or two months with the general work we have done in the garden. We will pass on information we have learnt, things we have done well (and not so well) and any tips for budding gardeners (or experienced gardeners) out there to take to your own green space. I will also include a seasonal recipe from The Shared Plate using ingredients from GRAFT. 

GRAFT February

Josh David-Read, 21 March 2024

“There are no Gardening mistakes only experiments.” Janet Kilburn Phillips

February too early to begin planting? Now this is a debatable topic in the gardening world… But we thought to give early planting a try.

At the end of January and early Feb we direct planted some Onions and Parsnips (seeds), planted out some Broad Beans and sewed early Tomatoes, Aubergine, Chillis, Peppers and Sweet Peas. We also planted a Bay tree in a pot by the Kitchen and 2 Blackberry stems in the Forest Bed. Starting early gives slower germination but also means an earlier crop. 

We will sew a later variety of all the above to ensure we have more crop later in the year. [TOP TIP] Only start early if you have a heated propagator or a windowsill above a radiator at home. 

We led a workshop in making your own potting mix. What we have gone for this year is 2 part compost (our own), 2 part Coir (Coconut Husk), and 1 part Perlite. This gives a good chance to all new seeds. Only downside to using your own compost is the weeds… we have found that germinating with your own compost has encouraged them to grow. Do you have another potting mix you swear by? Let us know! 

Later in the month Ian set about repairing the wooden beds, teaching two of the GRAFT Volunteers the process. We also assembled 6 more raised beds out of corrugated iron which will line the glass edge of the Museum. As this is a shadier part of the garden, we are going to have to plan carefully what to plant there. Next time you are in the museum have a look, they look great! To fill the beds we added cardboard and a lot of cuttings and branches to pack out the base then added Top Soil on top. When this organic matter breaks down it will give nutrients to the soil.                        

At the end of February, we sewed Spinach, and a selection of Herbs (Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Basil) in the Polytunnel. We also ‘chitted’ (Bless me!) our potatoes, this means placing them in egg boxes with the ‘eyes’ face up. When they sprout they are good to go in the ground. Alternatively, you can just chuck them straight in the bed without chitting. [TOP TIP] Grow potatoes from home! Ever gone to make some mash and found sprouting potatoes? You can cut them in half and place them in soil to make a big crop of Potatoes right from home. Give it a try and let us know how you get on! 


Roast Crown Prince Squash with whipped tahini


Serves 4



1.2 k Squash of your choice, deseeded and cut into chunks

3 tbsp oil

1 red onion, finely sliced

Glug of red wine vinegar

200g tahini

Squeeze of lemon juice

Handful of mint leaves

Salt and pepper



Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Roast squash in oven with oil and season with salt for 40 mins, turning half way

Place onion in a bowl with vinegar and pinch of salt and mix well

In another bowl add 125ml of cold water to the tahini and whisk well

Add lemon juice and salt to taste

To serve put the tahini on the plate, top with the squash, pickles onions, torn mint leaves and salt and pepper


I will be updating readers every month or two months with the general work we have done in the garden. We will pass on information we have learnt, things we have done well (and not so well) and any tips for budding gardeners (or experienced gardeners) out there to take to your own green space. I will also include a seasonal recipe from The Shared Plate using ingredients from GRAFT. 

Adult Learners Week 2023: its legacy at St Fagans National Museum of History and across Amgueddfa Cymru

Loveday Williams, 24 January 2024

Last year we celebrated Adult Learners Week in September, alongside other learning providers across Wales. 
We were excited to deliver activities across all 7 museums within the  Amgueddfa Cymru family, building on existing offers and piloting new sessions and activities.
At St Fagans we were able to develop a full programme of activities which took place throughout the week, including crafting taster sessions and workshops, mindful nature walks and opportunities for Welsh and English learners. 
The Amgueddfa Cymru programme was promoted via the new Adult and Community Learning section of our website, with the individual site offers also appearing on their main What’s On listings page. We were also able to promote our programme via the Adult Learners Week platform, supported by the Learning and Work Institute, as well as ensuring we ran a comprehensive social media campaign in the run up and throughout the week, across X (Twitter), Instagram and Facebook.
As part of this work, we also promoted our series of virtual craft tutorials and taster sessions and the self-led learner resources we offer. 
We worked closely with partners including Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd, Menter Caerdydd, Adult Learning Wales and Creative Lives to ensure our programme was tailored to the needs of the learners we hoped to attract and was enhanced by the richness that partnership working brings.
Over the course of the week, we saw a total of 160 people take part in the learning opportunities on offer at St Fagans and a total of 331 people across Amgueddfa Cymru as a whole. This marked our biggest ever Adult Learners Week, of which we are very proud. Take a look at some of the highlight here: https://youtu.be/lgKtmLHr1_Q 
We wanted to ensure we collected feedback from learners to help us develop and improve our adult learning offer across the organization. 
Here’s a sample of some of the learner feedback we received: 
“Wonderful, positive, creative environment.” 
“Learning a new skill is fun and fulfilling”.  
“Very social and therapeutic experience”  
“I really enjoyed the workshop. Very fun and positive experience. Facilitators were really friendly and found it really therapeutic and sociable.”  
“Very much enjoyed – great opportunity to learn a new skill. Great teacher. I feel very chilled now.” 
“Thoroughly enjoyable and interesting walk – saw things I’d never noticed previously.” 
“Yn agordrwsfydhudol.”  
“I really enjoyed the Mindful Nature Walk at St Fagans. I learnt a lot and would recommend it! It was great to have someone so knowledgeable leading the session.” 
“Friendly environment, not at all intimidating, so if you want to try something new go for it!” (willow weaving bird feeders) 
“Empowered! A great way to learn a new skill.” 
“Great fun! Just go do it, you will enjoy learning a new skill!”  
“Dw i’nmeddwl bod digwyddiadauyn y Cymraeg yndddaiawn.”  
“I have always wanted to make an autumn wreath and the course gave me the confidence. It was an inspirational course.” 
The tuition was fantastic. There was help when needed but given enough space and time to try and do it yourself.”  
“Very much enjoyed drawing again after 20 years. Must get back into it now!” 
“I thoroughly enjoyed the sketching session at St Fagans and the encouraging nature of the group.”  
“A motivating, supporting and encouraging session which was led excellently by Marion and Gareth and so well hosted by Loveday.” (Sketching workshop at St Fagans with Creative Lives).  
“It feels so wonderful to try something new and see the results so quickly.” (Enamelling taster session).  
Legacy programmes: 
As a result of the piloting opportunities Adult Learners Week provided, we have since been able to launch 3 new regular Adult Learning programmes at St Fagans and National Museum Cardiff. 
Our monthly Audio Described Tour programme (alternating monthly between the two museums and shortly to launch at the National Roman Legionary Museum in Caerleon, with a view to extend to other sites as and when capacity allows).
Our new monthly Sketching Group at St Fagans, in partnership with Creative Lives (and building on the success of the wonderful National Museum Cardiff Drawing Group). So far we’ve held 3 sessions. Our first attracted 6 people, our second 8 and our third 24! Feedback has been so positive and word is spreading far and wide. If you’d like to join us next month please do so. All the info can be found in the link above. 
New termly Bore i Ddysgwyr Cymraeg Welsh Learner Mornings in collaboration with Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd and Menter Caerdydd. Last term we welcomed 35 Welsh learners to the museum to take part in a session on Welsh Christmas traditions. We’re looking forward to welcoming an existing group of Welsh speakers and learners on 25th January for Dydd Santes Dwynwen where we’ll be exploring the Welsh Love Spoon collection and then the next Bore i Ddysgwyr Cymraeg. 
The 6 commitments enshrined in our 10-year strategy Amgueddfa2030 are embedded throughout our adult learning programme, specifically that of inspiring creativity and learning for life
We look forward to continuing to grow our adult learning offer and hope to welcome you in 2024 to one of our museums to take part in an activity or enjoy using one of our self-led learner resources!