Amgueddfa Blog

What interesting weather we’ve been having Bulb Buddies!

Looking through our results from 2011 to 2017 (using the chart on the right), we can see that November and December2017 had less than average temperatures and rainfall but higher than average hours of sunshine! By comparing the data for 2017 with previous years, we can see that November and December 2017 had the third highest average hours of sunshine since our records began in 2011.

Why not work out your average readings for November and December and compare them to the average readings shown in the table?  

I have received a number of reports that shoots have begun to appear in your pots! Do you think that Crocus or Daffodils will appear first? Why not look through last year’s report and compare the average flowering dates for Crocus and Daffodils to help you decide which will flower first!

I've attached some photos that have been shared over Twitter on the right. Please share your photos with me so that I can post them in my next Blog.

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

 

Your Comments:

 

Pembroke Primary School: We have planted tulips in pots also in school and it will be interesting to see how they compare to the daffodils and crocus. Professor Plant: That will be interesting, let me know how they compare Bulb Buddies!

Portpatrick Primary School: Shoots are stretching out of the ground :) . Professor Plant: What a lovely way of describing the sprouting of plants Bulb Buddies!

Inverkip Primary School: We really enjoyed doing it. We really want to do it again. Professor Plant: I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project Bulb Buddies. Keep up the good work!

Newton Primary School: It's been a lovely week. It's been quite cold, but mainly dry. Four plants have started to grow over the weekend and by the end of the week they were around 2cm tall. Professor Plant: Gosh Bulb Buddies, thank you for keeping such a close eye on your plants. It will be interesting to see how much they grow week by week!

Darran Park Primary: There hasn't been any change to our bulbs this week.

Auchenlodment Primary School: We can see some roots growing out the bottom of the pots.

Ysgol San Sior: Our plants are growing well.

Ysgol San Sior: Our plants have grown well over the Christmas holiday.

Ferryside V.C.P School: Mae wedi bod yn wythnos wlyb dros ben!

Ysgol Carreg Emlyn: Roedd yr ysgol ar gau Dydd Llun a Dydd Mawrth oherwydd yr eira.

Darran Park Primary: We had a lot of snow on the weekend the temperature was very cold and below freezing on Monday and Tuesday. The temperature rose a little on Wednesday and it rained a lot.

Carnbroe Primary School: Hi Professor Plant last week we had snow,snow,snow! On Tuesday the rainfall cup was filled with snow because of the low temperature. On Friday we got sent home because of the red warning about a blizzard coming our way. Our bulbs look safe and are still sleeping. Professor Plant: Wow Bulb Buddies, it sounds as though you have had some extreme weather! Thank you for keeping me up dated.

St Julians Primary School: Melted snow increased our rainfall total on Monday. Our plants didn't seem to mind the colder weather!

Newton Primary School: A chilly week on the playground!

Beaufort Hill Primary School: Closed Monday and Tuesday due to snow.

St. Nicholas Primary School: We had a snow day on Monday - the 40mm (42mm) was ice in our rain gauge!

Hudson Road Primary School: It is getting colder and we have had heavy rain again

St Paul's CE Primary School: Frosty every morning, sunny spells.

Peterston super Ely Primary School: It was a wet week this week!

St Andrew's RC Primary School: We hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Professor Plant: Thank you Bulb Buddies, I hope you all enjoyed your holidays!

St Michael's CE (Aided) Primary School: There has been snow laying on our playground 11/12 December.

Canonbie Primary School: It's Christmas jumper day today so we were all wearing our Christmas jumpers as we were out measuring rainfall.

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.