Amgueddfa Blog

Following Wrexham Museum’s recent acquisition of the Bronington Hoard, a collection of 15th century gold and silver coins and a gold and sapphire ring found by local metal detectorists, the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project helped fund the Buried in the Borderlands Community Archaeology Project.

The project, which goes on display in March, focuses on working with and inspiring the local community to investigate and produce creative responses to the historic objects discovered right under their noses.

David and Jill Burton are part of the Maelor heritage society set up by the museum, a group of volunteers who research and help to exhibit the Bronington findings. We caught up with them to talk about the project.

Why were you drawn to the project?

We have enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the “Buried in the Borderlands" project as volunteers with the Wrexham Museum team. Initially it was curiosity that took us along to the community meeting in the local pub to find out about more about the hoard that had been discovered in a field not far from where we live. This was followed up with meetings at the museum and the exciting chance to examine at close quarters the coins and ring that had been discovered. 

The hoard consists of 52 coins and a gold ring with a sapphire stone, all buried in approximately 1465. The hoard has been dated to a period of history we knew little about, the Wars of the Roses and we were intrigued what effect the conflict had had on our local area. 

What does your voluntary work involve?

Our “homework" between meetings was the opportunity to research into settlement and ways of life in the Maelor area 550 years ago and the politics of the time. Out limited knowledge of old coins, their designs and production, was helped by attending an excellent Numismatics Day at Wrexham Museum with the chance to listen to top quality speakers from the Royal Mint and the Fitzwilliam Museum amongst others.

What’s your favourite aspect of being involved with “Buried in the Borderlands”?

We enjoyed using the information we had discovered to put together a brief for designers of the popup information boards which would accompany displays and were delighted to see the resulting ideas come to fruition.

But I think our favourite part of the project was helping museum staff take a sample of the hoard and the completed information boards “on tour”, to three venues in the area where the hoard had been discovered, a community centre, a school hall and a heritage centre. At all three places we were met with interest and enthusiasm by visitors of all ages.

We loved having the time to chat, to explain and to listen to theories on why our visitors thought the hoard had been buried. We met 387 people on these days, some were local historians, some metal detectorists, some local residents and farmers but we especially enjoyed talking to the children who loved seeing “real treasure” and had the most imaginative theories as to its origins.

What does the future hold for the project?

We look forward to the next stage in the New Year when we can help with ideas for the designs for the permanent exhibition of the Bronington Hoard in Wrexham Museum, and of course the grand opening when for the first time we will see our local hoard all displayed together for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.

Interested in getting involved? Contact Wrexham Museum directly to find out more.

Don’t know what to get the children for Christmas this year? How about a little inspiration from the museum collections. Some of these items are going to be on display in the new galleries at St Fagans National Museum of History in the autumn of 2018.

Miniature toy sewing machine

Accession No: F82.51.63

Got any budding sewers in your family? This lovely little sewing machine belonged to Margaret Eckley of Sully who played with it as a child in the 1930s. It is hand operated and decorated with an image of Little Red Riding Hood. It comes with an instruction manual too.

 

Set of toy soldiers

Accession No: 56.313.134 – 154

You could try the classic set of toy soldiers? These came from Brecon. Did they march all the way? They were donated to the museum in the 1950s and probably belonged to the donor’s children, who were born in the 1890s.

 

Corgi Toy Tractor

Accession No: F00.27.9

You could try the ever popular Corgi toy range. This tractor was played with in Cardiff in the 1950s – 1960s.

 

Welsh Costume Doll

Accession No: 30.316

This doll dressed in traditional Welsh costume was played with in the middle of the 19th century. She must have been a treasured item, she was in the donor’s family for eighty years. To see more Welsh costume dolls visit the People’s Collection Wales website.

 

Lego Christmas set

Accession No: 2000.194/1

Would Christmas be complete without Lego? Here’s Father Christmas with his sleigh made in the Lego factory in Wrexham.

These objects are not on display at the moment, but you’ll soon be able to see them on our website along with many of our Art, Archaeology, Industrial and Social & Cultural History collections. Thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for support with this ongoing work.

If there is a specific object you want to see at any of our museums, check that it’s on display first, and if it’s not, you can always make an appointment to view it.

People's Postcode Lottery Logo

Christmas day is less than a week away and for most of us our tree and decorations are up, Christmas cards posted or messages sent via social media, presents purchased, turkey ordered and Christmas pudding made or bought - these are still popular christmas traditions in 2017 but why do we practice many of these rituals?

Decorations

We have decorated our houses at this time of year since Pagan times. Pagans used evergreens to acknowledge the winter solstice and it reminded them that spring was on it's way. Pope Julius I decided on the 25th of December as the birthday of Jesus, and as this date fell within the Pagan celebrations, some of the Pagan traditions were absorbed into the Christian calendar, including decorating with evergreens and particularly holly. For Christians evergreens came to symbolise God's life everlasting and holly came to represent Jesus's crown of thorns at the Crucifixion, and the berries respresented his blood. Other evergreens also had significance: Ivy as a clinging plant symbolised us holding on to God for support; Rosemary was believed to be the Virgin Mary's favourite plant and laurel represented success and especially God's success in conquering the devil. Holly and ivy were also seen to be representative of a man and woman, holly being prickly and masculine, and trailing ivy being feminine. Whichever was brought into the house first indicated which gender would assume the upper hand for the following year! It was unlucky to bring evergreens indooor's before Christmas Eve and remove them before the 12th night.

In rural Wales homes were usually decorated with evergreens in the early hours of Christmas morning to while away the hours before attending the Plygain service at the parish church, which consisted of an early morning service at somewhere between 3am and 6am and in which soloists and groups sang carols. Candles were also made to light the way to the church and to decorate the inside. Pagans used candles as a decoration to represent the sun and Christians to commemorate the presence of Christ. Before the advent of electricity, candles were used to decorate Christmas trees.

Click here to hear “Parti Fronheulog” and others singing “Addewid rasusol Ein Duw”. Recorded by St Fagans National Museum of History (or the Welsh Folk Museum as it was called at the time) in Llanrhaeadr-ym mochnant Vicarage, following the Plygain Supper held there at the beginning of January 1966.

https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/738256

Christmas Trees and Other Decorations

There is evidence to suggest that Christmas trees were used as decoration in the U.K. as early as the 1790's and its triangular shape had significance, as it represented the connection between the father, son and holy spirit. Its use became most popular however in Victorian times, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert used a tree to decorate Windsor Castle in 1841, and in 1848 a picture of the family appeared in the London Illustrated News with a decorated tree.

It was in the early 1920's that evergreens were gradually replaced by artificial decorations, predominantly in the industrial areas, towns and cities. Mass produced decorations became cheaper and more readily available. As early as the 1880's shops such as Woolworths began to sell decorations, sweets cakes and ribbons. It was also during the 1920's and 1930's that Christmas presents began to be wrapped.  It was in 1882 that the first electric tree lights appeared in New York, just three years after the introduction of the light bulb.

During the war paper chains became popular as they could be assembled at home and in the 1950's artificial trees became available.

At St Fagans National Museum of History we decorate many of our buildings every year with appropriate decorations according to the age and area of the building. Here are some images.

Although the "Penny Post" was first introduced in 1840 by Rowland Hill, it wasn't until Sir Henry Cole printed a thousand cards for sale at a shilling each in his art shop in London at Christmas time that the idea of sending Chistmas cards emerged as a popular idea. Sending cards became more widespread in 1870 when people could send cards for a halfpenny, as the blossoming of railways made postage cheaper. The Victoria and Albert Museum holds a card sent from Cwrt-yr-Ala in Cardiff in 1844.

Here are some images of Christmas cards from the St Fagans collection

Traditional Christmas Fare

Christmas time wouldn't be complete without the usual over indulgence in rich food. Traditionally the Christmas pudding would be made 5 weeks before Christmas, and in Wales it was customary for all members of the family including children and servants to stir the pudding mixture, often mixed first by the head of the household. In the pudding mixture tokens would be placed such as a a wedding ring; a button; a thimble or a sixpence. If the stirrer found the wedding ring it would foretell the finder's imminent marriage; the finding of a button for a young man would foretell his batchelerhood and the thimble for a young woman an indication of spinsterhood. The sixpence was a symbol of good luck.

Other traditional Welsh foods made at Christmas would be toffee ("cyflaith") made by boiling butter, treacle and sugar to a high temperature and then stretching and rolling the cooling mixture (requiring hard work on the part of the stretcher!). The recipe did vary according to the region. Here's a short film from our archive of this type of toffee being made.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26bDQqRQICY

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 11th December, the National Museum Cardiff in Cathays hosted the first pilot activity of ‘Kick the Dust’, a Heritage Lottery funded youth and community engagement programme aiming to to work with 14-24 year olds and use the National Museums of Wales as tool boxes to provide fun, engagement, career and life-skills development opportunities. The first people to utilise the museums’ space was a group of twelve students in their second year of the BA Theatre and Performance course at Aberystwyth University. This was an opportunity for them the try out and experiment with performance techniques and styles studied in a module over the last ten weeks.

After a three-hour journey through snowy Wales, the students arrived and were taken on a tour; they were invited to examine and be inspired by the textures, architecture, sculptures and paintings within the building and the students developed physical responses to their chosen areas of interest. Initially, the museum felt like a loaded space to the students, they were unsure of the rules of engagement to begin with. However, through the course of the day, the students stretched out and embraced the museum; the performers worked the dormant surroundings and brought the halls of memory to life.  

Performances were filmed and photographed in four locations within the museum; an empty exhibit space, the theatre, the gallery space containing the painting ‘Choir of the Capuchin Church’ 1817 by François Marius Granet, and a taxidermy section of the natural history exhibition. These diverse spaces yielded equally diverse results. The first space, the empty exhibition, they found to be eerie and neutral so they used it to workshop and play with the concepts of a previous performance. The students engaged with this area for at least fifteen minutes of focussed and intense work which was fascinating to witness. The next space was the theatre and here the students felt at home and they really began to thrive. In the ten minutes of their performance here, they engaged with the architecture and sharp lines of the auditorium as well as the performer-audience relationship; this piece blurred the lines between the expected, smashing the fourth wall and replacing it with an osmotic veil which helped me, as an observer, reinterpret the space and the emotional journeys taken within it.

The next, more traditional museum-gallery location was enchanting to witness. The group were inspired by the depth and angles within the painting and decided to use a doorway between two gallery spaces as the ‘frame’ to their interpretive performance; they explored the role of the spectator observing the artwork, the shapes and emotion within the pieces themselves, and the angles and imposition of the cases and stands. It became an active, rhythmic representation of the feeling and themes present in the room within the framed-depth concept. I found myself observing their fluid development of the space as I would a static piece of art, finding new areas of detail and interpretation the longer you look. The last performance in the taxidermy exhibition was an intense one. They explored the processes involved in preparing taxidermy through physical gesture re-enactment and, in the confined space overlooked by wolves, skeletons and a bison, it became quite claustrophobic and uncomfortable; they captured the unnaturalness of the grotesque process.  

At 5pm, the students finally got on the coach back to Aberystwyth, still excited and proud of the amazing work they’d done at the museum. They had indeed managed to ‘Kick the Dust’.

This blog post was written by Christina Dixon, a BA history student volunteering and getting work experience at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.

 

Hi Bulb Buddies,

Today is the last day for collecting weather data before Christmas! The next week for weather records will be 8th-12th January. When entering data to the website please enter 'no record' for the dates that you weren't in school to take readings.

There's no need to take your pots home with you over Christmas. So long as they are in a safe place in the school yard where they are unlikely to get blown over by the wind, they will be fine. The bulbs are insulated by the soil and can withstand the winter weather.

The weather has been mild in many places again this  autumn/ winter, and it will be interesting to see how this effects our plants. November 2017 saw slightly higher temperatures and less rain than last year. And, although we had slightly less sunshine than last year, it was still the second sunniest November since our nation wide records began in 2012! These are good conditions for our bulbs and if this pattern continues, we may see our flowers bloom earlier than last year!

Have a lovely break Bulb Buddies.

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year from

Professor Plant & Baby Bulb

 

Comments:

Thank you for all of your comments, we had some very detailed weather summaries in this week which I am extremely impressed with! We’ve also been notified by a couple of schools that shoots have appeared in their pots! I’d be grateful if these schools could share photos with me from before and after the Christmas holidays, so that we can all see how much they grow in this time!

Thank you for all of your hard work Bulb Buddies. I look forward to continuing again in the New Year!

Professor Plant

 

Some shoots have appeared:

Ysgol Beulah: Mae pedwar blaguryn wedi dechrau tyfu.

Ysgol San Sior: Our crocus plants have already started to grow! We are very excited – A.

Ysgol San Sior: A lot of our plants have started to grow but I am still waiting for mine. I'm checking every morning. – C.

Adamsdown Primary: My plant has started to grow.

St Julians Primary School: Lots of our daffodils have started to peek through the compost now.

Hemlington Hall Academy: Some of our crocuses have begun to grow. We can see them peeking through the top of the soil about 1-2cm. We didn't expect to see this until the spring.

 

Comments about the project:

Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant (Llanelli): Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda oddi wrth Blwyddyn 4 Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, Llanelli.

St Andrew's RC Primary School: It was really enjoyable to go outside to measure the status of the plants and to plant them.

YGG Tonyrefail: Having fun

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: First day of doing this in December can't wait for Christmas see you then.

Ysgol San Sior: We have asked a school in Barcelona to join us in this project. They have planted some bulbs that we bought and sent them. Their plants haven't grown like most of ours. Carys and Amelia are still checking every day for some growth. Professor Plant: That’s fantastic Bulb Buddies! Please keep me updated on how your projects go and what you learn.

Falkland Primary School: Plants are epic

 

Comments about extreme weather:

Ysbyty Ifan: Dim ysgol dydd llun oherwydd eira dydd mawrth roedd 110 mm o eira yn y mesurydd glaw diolch am y cerdyn

Garstang St. Thomas' CE Primary School: We had local flooding this week!

Auchenlodment Primary School: Storm Caroline brought high winds this week to Johnstone.

Beaufort Hill Primary School: School closed on Friday due to snow

St Teresa's Primary School: The school was closed on Monday due to snow/ ice.

Ysgol Bro Pedr: 2 days off this week due to the snow

Henllys CIW Primary: the school was closed on monday and tuesday and on wednesday it was 43 mm

Shirenewton Primary School: Snow day Monday

 

Weather summaries:

Ferryside V.C.P School: Roedd wythnos hyn yn oer a cael lot o glaw.

Ysgol Casmael: Cesair ac eira wythnos yma.

Ysgol Carreg Emlyn: Roedd yr ysgol ar gau dydd gwener oherwydd yr eira felly nid oedd yn bosib cofnodi'r tywydd.

Ysgol Y Traeth: Wedi bwrw cenllysg ac eira ychydig heddiw (Dydd Gwener 8/12/17)

Ysbyty Ifan: mae hi wedi bod yn bwrw eira heddiw

Darran Park Primary: It’s the same as last week the lower the temperature the less rain and the higher the temperature the more rain.

Auchenlodment Primary School: It was a cold and dry week. We were off on Thursday as it was St Andrew's Day (Scotland's patron saint).

Carnbroe Primary School: Hi Professor Plant, we have had mixed weather this week. It was really wet on Monday, on Wednesday it was icy and today it was mild. Our plants are doing fine.

Carnforth North Road Primary School: We had some very cold weather.

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn: not much rain.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: It's been a cold and frosty week!

St Paul's CE Primary School: Lots of heavy snow this week and very low temperatures. Snow lying thick on the ground Thursday and Friday. Frosty every morning.

Inverkip Primary School: It was frosty throughout the week. This will not help. There was barely any rain.

Waddingham Primary School: Overnight on Thursday, it snowed. By the time we did our readings on Friday, the snow had melted and the water level was 2mm.

Canonbie Primary School: We have had a slight flurry of snowflakes. We have not had much rain. It is quite cold.

Ysgol Bro Pedr: Beautiful and chilly end to a week that started miserably.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Hi been a cold and windy week, very cold and wet. Not excited for the winter coldness ahead. BYE BYE.

Beaufort Hill Primary School: Very cold week!

Garstang St. Thomas' CE Primary School: Brrrrrr!

Peterston super Ely Primary School: It was very cold this week for our bulbs!

St Robert's R.C Primary School: We didn't get much snow!

Inverkip Primary School: On Wednesday, we had lots of rain. This would help the plants grow. But because the temperatures were low, they might not grow.

Arkholme CE Primary School: This week was fairly cold and wet. In the mornings it was very frosty. We could not get to bulbs because of the plumbers. The temperatures were all above minus because we checked them in the afternoon and by then it was warmer.

St Robert's R.C Primary School: It got cold this week and we had a little bit of snow in Bridgend, but not much!

St Paul's CE Primary School: Heavy rain Thursday Friday. Cold all week. Frosty mornings

Pembroke Primary School: Would you like more detailed information as provided previously? I can include daily high, low and weekend information. Professor Plant: Hi Bulb Buddies, if you have time to enter the detailed information that would be lovely! And if you are doing any activities in the classroom using this data I’d love to hear about it!

Bardney Church of England & Methodist Primary: Cold!

Henllys CIW Primary: actual rain fall on Thursday was 25ml and friday raingage had fallen over with the snow

Portpatrick Primary School: Snow on Friday!

Canonbie Primary School: It has been a cold wind and we might be getting some snow. We have had a busy with our Christmas play.

Carnbroe Primary School: Hi Professor Plant the weather has been very cold this week. It started quite mild and damp and then on Thursday it dropped to 4°C. On friday it dropped again down to 2°C and it is very cold and icy but our plants are still thriving.

Darran Park Primary: Its kind of done the opposite to last week. The temperature has been higher and on Thursday we had more rain. Today we had some snow and the temperature has dropped.

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn: There was not that much rain this week and the temperature was high on the first 4 days and then on the last day it was 4 which is low.

Ysgol Bro Pedr: Rather chilly in the west of Wales!!!

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: We've had snow flurries this morning - it's been a cold week.

Llanishen Fach Primary School: It has been really cold this week. We have checked our bulbs but they haven't grown yet.

Carnforth North Road Primary School: Its been very cold this week.

Carnbroe Primary School: Hi Professor Plant we hope that you have been wrapped up this week. It has been very cold and icy in Carnbroe this week. It rained on Wednesday and today and because it has been so cold its iced over. Our plants are still sleeping. Professor Plant: I have been wrapped up, thank you Bulb Buddies. And thank you for sharing your lovely photos.

Edenham Church of England Primary School: Monday - snowfall not rainfall!!! Professor Plant: Exciting Bulb Buddies, I hope you enjoyed bringing the snow in to melt before taking your readings! Keep up the good work.

YGG Tonyrefail: On Monday Tuesday and Wednesday it was snowing so no record

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn: The temperature and rainfall have both been very low as there was not much rain and not very hot.