Cymraeg

Sometime at the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 2,250 to 2,000 BC, some people walked through the wetlands where Swansea Bay now lies. Perhaps they used one of the wooden trackways which had been laid across the wet ground, parts of which can still be seen when the tide is out.

They had with them a special object, a fine flint dagger, a piece of exquisite workmanship made by an expert craftsman. The dagger was part of a Europe-wide culture, and was perhaps an important part of their identity.

For some reason the precious object was dropped; perhaps by accident, but more likely left as a deliberate offering in shallow water in a place of special significance.

Rediscovery

The dagger remained submerged, first in the water, and then, as the environment changed, in peat beneath the sands of Swansea Bay, for four millennia. Then, in 1971, a student, Paul Tambling and his girlfriend, Angela, were walking across the bay and saw it sticking out of the sand.

They picked it up and took it home, and it became a treasured object once more, associated with happy memories and a unique symbol of their relationship.

Reporting

Early in 2016 Paul and Angela heard of a flint knapping demonstration being held at Cyfarthfa House Museum in Merthyr Tydfil and decided to take their dagger along to show an expert.

The flint knapper recognised the dagger’s significance and it was reported to Mark Lodwick, the Portable Antiquities Scheme finds co-ordinator at Amgueddfa Cymru.

The dagger was identified as a ‘Beaker Dagger’, more commonly found in south-eastern England, often accompanying high-status burials, with only four other examples known of in Wales.

The discovery was exciting, and Mark contacted Paul and Angela, who brought the dagger in for recording and told him their story.

Recreation

Ideally, an object of this importance would belong in a public collection in a museum, but it is understandable that Paul and Angela want to keep it, given its personal significance to them.

Happily, a solution has been found in the form of flint-knapper Karl Lee, who attended Swansea Museum’s Welsh Museums Festival event in October and made a replica for display in their galleries.

It will now become a part of Swansea Museum’s Lost Treasures of Swansea Bay project, which invites communities to respond to the deep history of the bay through the many archaeological items found there by members of the public.

Here at the Mary Gillham Archive Project hub we’ve recently begun ‘timehopping’ on social media.

This involves using Mary’s detailed writings to find out what she was doing on today’s date, so many years ago, and then posting it on Twitter and Facebook (i.e. “on this date, in this year, Mary was doing this…”). It’s an interesting way to learn about Mary’s life history and see the many activities that she got up to in her day-to-day life.

A recent and particularly intriguing timehop posted on 16th October described how on that day in 1982, Mary witnessed the enormous humpback whale lying washed up on Gilestone beach at Aberthaw, near the Power Station.

This sparked the interest of many and after a twitter conversation with National Museum Cardiff it turns out that the bones of the whale are now on display at the museum, right here in Cardiff! This means that you can still visit this gigantic sea mammal today and see a part of Welsh history with your own eyes, just like Mary did.

Crowds on Aberthaw Beach

For those fortunate enough to be there in 1982 Aberthaw, the experience was an unforgettable one.

In her archive, Mary explains that it was almost “impossible to photograph the whale” due to the thousands of people congregating to get a glimpse.

The coastguard had tied the tail of the whale to a large iron post in the ground with ropes (to prevent the animal from washing back out to sea).

Mary describes how she got the chance to hold one of the whale’s gigantic flippers while Piers Langhalt, formerly of National Museum Cardiff, cut the large barnacles from the animal. These same barnacles can be found preserved at the museum, alongside the whale!

One volunteer on the Mary Gillham Archive Project, Julia Banks, recalls the “overpowering, rotting smell” of the beached whale that she witnessed as a young child. Julia visited the scene with her parents and remembers joining the masses of locals all gathering for the unusual sight, as well as seeing a group of people measuring the whale in order to figure out its age.

Julia also remembers visiting National Museum Cardiff when the skeleton was put up on display, and “feeling proud that [their] whale was in the museum”.

For more of the story and info on how the whale was managed by National Museum Cardiff, why not take a trip to the museum to see for yourself how it stands today?

 

The Mary Gillham Archive Project is a Heritage Lottery funded project at South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre
For more info about the project visit our website: https://marygillhamarchiveproject.com/the-project/

 

 

Archwilio Achau Emlyn Davies y Draper

Mae'r gwaith o ddatblygu sesiwn i blant am Siop Draper Emlyn Davies yn parhau yma yn yr Amgueddfa Wlân.

Roedd modd dechrau creu llun cyffrous o’r siop a’i  pherchennog trwy bori trwy dudalennau bywgraffiad Alan Owen: Emlyn Davies The Life & Times Of A Dowlais Draper in the first Half Of The Twentieth Century.

I ddechrau, roedd gan Richard Davies (sef enw genedigol Emlyn Davies) linach deuluol drawiadol. Roedd yn perthyn i'r Parchedig John Williams, a oedd yn bregethwr, bardd, cyfansoddwr emynau ac ysgrifwr nodedig; a John Havard a fu’n lawfeddyg ym mrwydr Waterloo.

Ar droad y ganrif ddiwethaf mae’n debyg fod y teulu yn gerddorol tu hwnt, ac yn un o’r rhai cyntaf yn yr ardal i fod yn berchen ar ‘phonograph’, sef dyfais fecanyddol i recordio sain. Mae’n debyg y deuai cymdogion a pherthnasau i fewn yn slei i gyntedd ei cartref i wrando arno!

Blynyddoedd o Eithafion

Bu 1912 i 1914 yn flynyddoedd o eithafion i’r siop a’r ardal:

1912:  Bu streic chwerw yn y gweithfeydd rhwng Mawrth 1af a diwedd Ebrill a gafodd effaith ddifrifol ar fusnesau lleol. Yna i’r gwrthwyneb yn llwyr fe siriolwyd Dowlais ddigysur gan faneri ac addurniadau lliwgar ar Fehefin 29fed pan ymwelodd y Brenin a’r Frenhines â’r dre.

Hydref 1913: Bu trychineb gwaethaf y diwydiant glo yn yr ardal sef Tanchwa Senghennydd, lle cafodd 439 o ddynion a bechgyn eu lladd.

Y stori fwya hynod ac annisgwyl efallai oedd cysylltiad y siop a storm ddifrifol a ddigwyddodd bythefnos ar ôl y digwyddiad ofnadwy hwnnw. Bu corwynt enfawr a chwythwyd a chlwyfwyd Doli - un o geffylau cludo parseli y siop, drosodd yn y gwynt!

1914: Ac ar nodyn ddwysach fyth - yr Ergyd Farwol - Y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf a’i holl erchylltra a gyffyrddodd â phob cymuned.

Rhyfeloedd Byd: Newid Byd yn Nowlais

Bu byd o newid i nifer o bobl wedi‘r rhyfel byd 1af, ac yn enwedig i ferched. Mae Miriam - Minnie fel y gelwid - merch hynaf Emlyn Davies, yn esiampl o’r effaith yma.

Yn ystod y rhyfel er ei bod hi’n astudio mewn ysgol breswyl yn Aberhonddu, fe ddychwelodd i helpu yn y siop oherwydd bod nifer o’r dynion wedi gorfod mynd i ymladd. Yna, yn 1937 wedi marwolaeth ei thad, etifeddodd y siop mewn cyfnod anodd a thywyll arall.

Fe wnaeth y rhan yma o’r stori a’i chymeriad a’i bywyd hi gynnig ei hun fel spardun i greu sesiwn ysgolion yma yn yr Amgueddfa Wlân.

O fantais hefyd oedd bod hwn yn hanes o fewn côf. Cyffrowyd fi wrth feddwl mod i’n mynd i gael cyfle i wrando ar Mr Owen yn darlunio’r siop yn ystod y cyfnod cythryblus yma.

Cwrdd â Theulu Emlyn Davies

Dyna od fel mae rhywun yn dechrau tueddu dychmygu bod cymeriad mewn ffilm, llun neu lyfr yn parhau i fod yr un oed am byth - ac wrth deithio gyda'r curadur Mark Lucas i fwthyn bach ar gyrion Castell Newydd Emlyn i gyfarfod a Alan Owen (wyr Emlyn Davies), bron i mi argyhoeddi fy hun fy mod yn mynd i weld bachgen bach gyda chapan a throwsus byr a la y 30au!

Yr hyn sydd yn arbennig am gael cyfarfod wyneb yn wyneb a phobl sydd ynghlwm â hanes fel hyn yw eich bod yn cael gwell amgyffred o bersonoliaethau. Cofiai Mr Owen ei dadcu fel person hoffus, cariadus, a charedig - ac er ei fod yn amlwg yn ddyn busnes llwyddiannus gyda chyfrifoldebau mawr yn ei waith a’i gymdeithas, roedd hi’n ddifyr i ddarganfod y berthynas a fu rhyngddynt.

Cofiai fel y deuai ei dadcu ag anrhegion yn ôl iddo fe a’i chwaer bob tro y teithiai ar hyd y wlad ar fusnes. Cofiai gael llwnc o gwrw ganddo hefyd a chael ei gwrsio rownd y cownter!

Soniodd llawer am y gymuned fel yr oedd yn blentyn - roedd llawer o Wyddelod yn byw yn yr ardal yr adeg honno ac roedd  atgofion ganddo am orymdeithiau lliwgar ‘Corpus Christi’yn Dowlais.

Bu Mr Owen a’i chwaer ‘fach’ Mrs .Joan Preston (trwy ebost) yn garedig tu hwnt yn rhannu nifer o’u hatgofion o’r siop yn ystod y rhyfel pan fu eu mham Miriam Owen (Minnie) yn rhedeg y siop – ond eto mwy am hyn yn y blog nesaf!

Y gamp nesaf fydd cwtogi yn ofalus hanes hanner cant o flynyddoedd y siop i script 45 munud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a bright and breezy Saturday morning in September an enthusiastic group of children and adults gathered at the Mumbles in wellies and hi-vis jackets ready for a Big Beachcomb.

The Beachcomb was the first activity of Swansea Museum’s Lost Treasures of Swansea Bay project, which is being funded by the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories project based at Amgueddfa Cymru.

Led by Paul Huckfield of the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust and Mark Lodwick of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Cymru we set out with the retreating tide to see what treasures of Swansea’s past we could find.

Searching

The vast expanse of mud, sand, rocks and shallow pools did not look promising at first. But almost as soon as we had set off Paul was showing us the blackened and glistening remains of a prehistoric forest. Within another hour he had pointed out the sites of seven shipwrecks, old mooring points and other remains of Swansea’s maritime past.

On the surface of the shore we found hundreds of pieces of old pottery, metalwork, animal bones, glassware and pieces of clay pipe. A particularly evocative find was the base of a wine bottle, dating back to the 1600s.

The glass was thick, and so dark that you could only see its muddy green colour by holding it up to the sun. This was a high-status object - once, it would have held a decent vintage rather than plonk.

Collecting

When enough pieces had been collected in carefully labelled bags we laid them out on the slipway and sorted them into categories with the help of Paul and Mark – ceramics, glass and metalware, organic material.

Imagining

We speculated about who the objects had belonged to, when they were made, and how they ended up in Swansea Bay. Some, such as the bottle and some of the pots, were imported items – could they have been among the cargoes of one of the wrecked ships? Had the pipes been smoked by sailors and fishermen with wheezy chests? Were the bones the remains of their dinner?

Our treasures have now been taken back to Swansea Museum where they will be studied by the Young Archaeologists Club and used as inspiration for the Dylan Thomas Centre’s Young Writers Squad.

Look out for the next chapter in their history in a future blog.

It’s a strange sensation, being guided across a street blindfolded. Time slows. Distance is distorted, directions skewed. You become acutely aware of changes in the surface under your feet; shadows; things unseen brushing past your arm or cheek.

Being the guide is less disorientating but can be just as strange. Knowing that you have complete responsibility for getting someone safely to their destination is unnerving. The street suddenly becomes your enemy. Cracks and kerbs, streetlamps, benches, bins become anxiety-inducing obstacles – and don’t get me started on the cars!

The training was delivered by our friends at Cardiff Institute for the Blind, who have been helping us pilot our audio description tours for blind and visually impaired visitors. We wanted to practice our guiding skills, but also to experience what it’s like to be guided without vision in an unfamiliar environment.

Our trainers, Michelle and Sian, also gave us helpful insight into the day-to-day challenges of living with a visual impairment and the array of tools and technologies that are available to help. We were given a selection of simi-specs, which simulate the symptoms of common eye conditions, and asked to do everyday tasks like read, write and count out coins from a purse.

Sian gave us a valuable account of her experience living with a visual impairment, and the role of the lovely Arnie, not just a guide dog but a lifelong companion and friend.

Everyone agreed that the training was a positive experience on many levels, and although we realise that what we experiences is not directly comparable to the experience of people with sight loss, it felt that we all came away understanding a bit more. And after guiding our colleagues across a city centre street in the rain, the prospect of guiding people around the Museum safely is far less scary!

Our audio description tours run once every other month. For more information and future dates, please call (029) 2057 3240.