Amgueddfa Blog

Ar y cyntaf o Fai, dethlir Calan Mai.  Mae'r ŵyl yn nodi dechrau’r haf a chyfnod o ffrwythlondeb a thwf.  Mae toreth o draddodiadau yn gysylltiedig â’r ŵyl – rhai yn fwy rhyfedd na’i gilydd!  Dyma ddetholiad o ambell i arfer sydd ar gof a chadw yn Archifau AWC.

Canu am Gildwrn yn Nhreuddyn

Yn ardal Treuddyn, ar ddiwrnod Calan Mai, byddai plant yn gwisgo dillad llaes a mynd o ddrws i ddrws yn canu cân a chario cangen wedi ei hardduno â charpiau yn y gobaith o dderbyn ychydig o gildwrn neu rodd fechan gan berchennog y tŷ.  Dyma eiriau Alun J. Ingman, a anwyd yn Nhreuddyn yn 1906:

Ar ddydd Calan Mai, byddai rhai wedi paentio’u hwynebau ac yn gwisgo rhyw hen sgert a dillad llaes a mi oedd ganddyn nhw gangen, a charpiau arni hi, a mynd o ddrws i ddrws. Mi fydde ’na gân debyg i hyn: “Dawns sy’n sa’, y gangen ha’, am mor fychlawn neidio. Neidia di i ben y tŷ a mi neidia inna troso’”. Fydde hynny, a cildwrn, tipyn o gocos, yn rhwbath yn debyg i Calennig ond ar ddydd Calan Mai.

Derbyn Menyn yng Ngogledd Penfro

Yng Ngogledd Penfro, arferai gwragedd a phlant deithio o amgylch ffermdai yr ardal yn derbyn talpau o fenyn yn eu basynau.  Golygai hyn y byddai ganddynt ddigon o fenyn i roi ar eu bara am wythnosau i ddod.

Penglog Ceffyl i’r Ferch a’ch Digiodd

Yng Ngogledd Cymru, byddai gwŷr ifanc yn cael gafael ar benglog ceffyl ar noswyl Calan Mai ac yn ei hongian uwchben drws morwyn neu ddrws gwraig briod a oedd wedi eu digio. Yn aml, byddai enw’r ferch anffodus wedi ei glymu i’r penglog.

Colli Gwaed ar Galan Mai

Mae Mary Davies a anwyd yn Nantyfedwen, Trefeglwys, yn 1892, yn cofio y byddai ei Nain yn mynd pob blwyddyn i gael colli tipyn bach o waed adeg Calan Mai:

Glywos i’n nhad yn dweud ei fod yn gwybod am rywun oedd yn mynd i ryw gors, ac roedd y gelod yn cydiad yn y gors, ac roedd e’n eu gwerthu nhw i’r cemist.  Fydda’r cemist yn gwerthu nhw i fobol i dynnu gwaed.  Bydda’r gelod yn cael eu defnyddio yn reit ddiweddar yn bydda nhw.  Bydda Nain, mam ’y nhad, yn mynd pob blwyddyn i golli tipyn bach o waed.  O, odd hi’n well o lawer iawn wedyn odd hi’n meddwl.

Gofyn Bendith ar Amaethwyr

Ar y dydd hwn yn ardal Llangristiolus, cynhelid gwasanaeth yn y capel i ofyn bendith Duw ar ffermwyr yr ardal.

Rhwystro’r Wrach Rhag Hudo

Ar fore Calan Mai yn Llanwennog, byddai’n arfer addurno pen y drws blaen â dail gwyrdd er mwyn atal y “witsh” rhag dod i’r tŷ a'i hatal rhag rhoi hud ar y cartref fel na allai’r teulu gorddi trwy gydol yr haf.

Godro Defaid

Arferid godro defaid yn ystod yr wythnos gyntaf ar ôl ffair Galan Mai Llanfair-ym-Muallt ac yna eu gadael yn hesb nes fis Hydref.

“Cadw Gofid Mâs o’r Tŷ”

Yn ardal Cydweli, byddai rhai yn addurno y drws blaen gyda changhennau coed ynn er mwyn “cadw gofid mâs o’r tŷ” ac i atal gwrachod ac ysbrydion, a oedd yn arbennig o ddrygionus ar ddechrau Mai yn ôl y sôn, rhag chwarae triciau ar y trigolion.

Ffeiriau Cyflogi

Cynhelid ffeiriau cyflogi mewn llawer tref yng Nghymru ar ddiwrnod Calan Mai. Byddai gweision a morwynion yn cael eu cyflogi am flwyddyn ac yna’n dychwelyd i’r ffair mewn deuddeng mis neu symud i ardal arall er mwyn ceisio gwell cyflog.  Dyma eiriau Rhys Morgan, a anwyd yn 1875 yng Nghorneli Waelod, ger Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr:

Odd May Day pryd ’ny. Dydd Cala-Ma’. A dyna’r dydd on nhw’n ych dewis chi. Os och chi’n moin jobyn, och chi’n gofyn i’r fferm a on nhw’n setlo ar arian.  Odd pob un yn Ben-bont, odd gweision ffermydd a lot o’r ffermwyr hefyd 'ny. Bydde chi’n clywed “Ma ishe gwas yn New Park, ma ishe gwas yn y Grove”.  Wel nawr, och chi nawr yn mynd i edrych, bydde’r ffarmwr ddim yn dod atoch chi.    Pedwar ucen mlynedd yn ôl - dydd mawr.  Sdim sôn amdano fe nawr.      

Continuing the international year of the periodic table of chemical elements, for April we have selected Calcium. Known by most as the fundamental element in bone-forming or limestone, it has a host of other applications and is present in seabeds and marine life past and present.

Calcium (Ca) is a light-coloured metallic element with an atomic number of 20.  It is crucial for life today and commonly forms a supporting role in plants and animals. The 5th most common element in the earth’s crust, calcium forms many useful rocks and minerals such as limestone, aragonite, gypsum, dolomite, marble and chalk.

Aragonite and Calcite, the two most commonly crystalised forms of calcium carbonate, helped form the 2 million shells in our mollusc collection, the core of which is the Melvill-Tomlin collection, donated to the museum in the 1950s. An international collection it contains many rare, beautiful and scientifically important specimens and is utilised by worldwide scientists for their research. Pearls, also made of aragonite and calcite, are produced by bivalves such as oysters, freshwater mussels and even giant clams. In nature pearls are the result of the molluscs’ reaction against a parasitic intruder or a piece of grit. The mantle around the soft bodied animal secretes calcium carbonate and conchiolin that surrounds the invading body and imitates its shape so they are not all perfectly spherical. In the pearl industry the oyster or mussel is ‘seeded’ with a tiny orbs of shell to ensure that the resulted pearl is totally spherical.

Mollusc shells are created as protective shields by their soft-bodied owners and this is true of other invertebrates, especially in the world’s oceans. Coral reefs and some marine bristle worm tubes (Serpulidae, Spirorbinae) rely on the reinforcing nature of calcium carbonate to provide support and protection to their soft bodies. Crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters have a hard exoskeleton strengthened with both calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate. Calcium required after moulting in lobsters, crawfish, crayfish and some land crabs is provided by gastroliths (sometimes referred to as gizzard stones, stomach stones or crab’s eyes). They are found on either side of the stomach and provide calcium for essential parts of the cuticle such as mouthparts and legs. The museum’s collections holds nearly 750,000 marine invertebrates, including crustaceans, corals and bristleworms.

Many of the 700,000 fossils in the Museum’s collections are also made of calcium minerals.  Invertebrates use two main forms of calcium carbonate to make their shells and exoskeletons, and the one they use influences how likely they are to be immortalised as fossils.  Aragonite, found in the shells of molluscs such as ammonites, gastropods and bivalves, is unstable and doesn’t usually survive for millions of years.  During fossilisation, aragonite shells either dissolve away completely, or the aragonite recrystallizes to form calcite.  Calcite was used to make the shells and skeletons of extinct groups of corals, articulate brachiopods, bryozoans, echinoderms and most trilobites.  It is much more stable than aragonite, so the original hard parts of these creatures are commonly found as fossils, millions of years after they sank to the sea floor.  Large calcite crystals are often found filling spaces in fossils, such as the chambers inside ammonite shells.  Vertebrates use a different calcium mineral to make their bones and teeth: apatite (calcium phosphate), which can survive for millions of years to make iconic fossils such as dinosaur skeletons and mammoth tusks.

The Museum’s rock collections contain many limestones, rocks formed at the bottom of ancient seas from bits of shells and other calcium carbonate-rich remains.  For millenia, people have used limestones as a construction material: from carved stone in the iconic Greek and Roman temples; broken fragments as ballast in the base layer of railways and roads; or burnt to form lime in the manufacturing of cement.  National Museum Cardiff and other iconic buildings in Cardiff Civic Centre were built from a famous Dorset limestone called Portland Stone.  The Museum’s floor is tiled with marble, limestone that has been transformed (‘metamorphosed’) under great heat and pressure.  Marble has long been prized by sculptors, since the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Museum’s art collections include works in this material by Auguste Rodin, John Gibson, Sir Francis Chantrey, Sir William Goscombe John, and many others. There are also important examples of work by twentieth-century sculptors, such as Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill and Henri Gaudier-Breszka. They preferred carving the softer texture and density of the softer limestone, Portland Stone and sandstone.

Locust swarms have for centuries destroyed crops and threatened food supplies across large parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This threat continues today - a recent plague in Madagascar destroyed 2.3 million hectares of crops. Controlling it took three years and cost million.

Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) swarms can move hundreds of miles within a vast ‘invasion area’ that can span dozens of countries, and even continents. To better understand and control such plagues of locusts the British founded the Anti-Locust Research Centre (ALRC) in the 1920s.

The ALRC took the lead in monitoring, studying, forecasting and controlling locust swarms. To do this they had to work with different experts including entomologists (insect specialists), cartographers (map makers), toxicologists (experts on poison), explorers, photographers, the military and local people.

For decades the ALRC gathered information on locusts worldwide. This now forms an incredible archive of thousands of documents, maps and photographs held at the Natural History Museum in London, and a collection of over 70,000 locust specimens that are now part of the collections here at Amgueddfa Cymru.

Our new display ‘Locust War’ reunites the archive and specimens to rediscover the remarkable work of the ALRC and the challenges it faced to understand and control the desert locust.

The exhibition is the work of a collaborative research project led by academics from the University of Warwick, University of Portsmouth and Glasgow School of Art, and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

‘Locust War’ is part of the displays in our InSight Gallery, and runs until the 16th September 2019.

It’s true to say that volunteers play a key role in the work of the National Museum of Wales. However, the role of a museum volunteer has changed a fair bit in recent years, so allow me to bring you all up to speed.

My name is Ben Halford and I’ve been an Explore Volunteer at the National Museum of Wales for nearly a year. The role of Explore Volunteer is still rather new. It was introduced into the museum last year with the aim of trialling a new style of volunteering. It merges several types of volunteer into one. It’s our job to engage with the visiting public in our galleries and enrich their museum experience. Because the role is still becoming more established, not many people know what Explore volunteers get up to around the museum, which is where the Explore Blog comes in.

Here we’ll be bringing you stories from volunteers across the museum, which will give you a taste of what being an Explore Volunteer entails. We’ll be including features about our favourite exhibits, our most frequently asked questions from visitors and indeed our strangest questions from visitors (the one about the Siberian dinosaur springs to mind!).

We have many Explore Volunteers who operate in the museum on a regular basis, and they all have great stories to tell. With this blog we now have a way to share these stories and to give you all an insight into what we do as part of this fantastic institution.

We want to hear from any and all volunteers about their experiences, so if you’re interested in writing for the blog please let us know! In the meantime watch this space for brilliant content coming soon!

Students from Cardiff School of Art and Design recently had an exciting opportunity. Not only did they get to spend lots of time at National Museum Cardiff, but a lucky few also got to display their work in our Main Hall!

Moving the Museum was a five-week project which brought together students from across the entire breadth of courses that CSAD offer—including animation, illustration, textiles and ceramics.

After an introduction to the museum and tours of the galleries, the students were tasked with creating original work in response to the wealth of inspiration at National Museum Cardiff. Each student brought their own skills and experience to the project, and it was very interesting to see the variety of ways the students approached the brief.

Including both fine and applied art, the responses encompassed everything from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and textiles. There were even lighting products, metalwork and reinterpretations of Marcel Duchamp’s Box in a Valise, a mini museum full of tiny treasures. We didn't get pictures of everything, but you can see some examples below.

photo of a fantasy museum inside a shoebox, including an animation reel and clay dragon
Photo of a student wearing a textile cape containing images of animal skulls
Photo of mixed media painting by a student, inspired by animal specimens in natural history galleries

As well as the physical works, there were also several screen-based pieces. These ranged from stop motion animation, explorations of our vertebrate collection and even a trailer for a computer game set in the museum.

The finished projects were presented during a grand finale in our Clore Discovery Centre. To see the finished works and to hear the students discuss their experiences with enthusiasm was a real pleasure. The day felt like a celebration of both the museum’s collections and the students’ creativity and skill.

After the final presentation day, some suitable works were chosen for display in our Main Hall. The students brought their work on a Monday, when we are closed to the public, and worked with our technicians to install their work.

The cases got much of attention over the following few weeks and our visitors very much enjoyed seeing the displays. We’re sure you’ll agree they look great! Diolch yn fawr to the students for all their hard work, and to CSAD's Owen Stickler for organising the project.