Amgueddfa Blog: Learning

Anna Edwards, yn siarad am y ddarganfyddiad o’r Gelc Bronington ar eu fferm hi yn 2014:

Roedden ni wedi perchen ar y tir am dair mlynedd pan ddarganfyddon ni'r casgliad, er ein bod ni wedi rhentu o am flynyddoedd cyn hynny. Doedd neb wedi bod yno efo canfodyddion metel o'r blaen.

Dw'i bob amser yn gwerthfawrogi hanes a dwi'n cofio gorlethu'n gyffrous.  Mae wybodaeth leol wedi dysgi i ni bod llawer o weithgareddau wedi bod yn yr ardal yn y gorffennol fel yn ystod y Rhyfel Cartref a'r diwydiant halen.  Mae ffermio o dydd i ddydd wedi agor i fyny crochenwaith man, botwmau ond mae arwyddocad a phwysigrwydd y casgliad yn syfrdanol a mwy nag unrhywbeth gallwn i fod wedi dychmygu.

Fel y mwyafrif o bethau pwysig sy'n digwydd yn ein bywyd; mae digwyddiad pegynol fel hwn yn troi i fyny ar siawns.

Collodd fy ngwr ei oriadau yn ystod y cynhaeaf a gofynnodd i'r defnyddwyr canfodyddion metel lleol i helpu. Cafodd fy ngwr ei oriadau nôl a rhoddodd o wahoddiad i'r dynion i ddod yn ôl yn eu hamser hamdden.

Roedd gweld a theimlo'r casgliad yn ryfeddol ac yn gyffrous i fod y person cyntaf i wisgo'r modrwy ers 500 mlynedd. Roedd y cyflwr yn gysefin ac yn edrych yn newydd sbon. Roedd rhaid i ni eistedd i lawr i werthfawrogi'r sefyllfa. I bwy roedd hi’n perthyn? Pwy wisgodd o? Sut bobl oedden nhw? Oedd y trysor wedi ei guddio neu ddwyn?

Mae darganfod y casgliad wedi cryfhau ein cysylltiad efo'r tir ble rydyn ni wedi gweithio mor galed. Mae'n fraint i gyrraedd mor bell ac yn anrhydedd mawr i fod yn gysylltiedig efo'r arian a'r modrwy. Tystiolaeth o'r gorfennol, pressenol a'r dyfodol i ni.

Yn ogystal â hyn mae'n syndod i mi am y diddordeb sydd wedi ei gynyddu yn lleol ac ymhellach. Ymddangosodd yn y papur newydd, derbynion alwadau ffôn o radio Chicago a siaradon yn fyw i holl dalaith Illinois, mwy i ddilyn!

Mae'n bleser gweld y plant ysgol yn cael eu cynnwys yn y cyffro ac aelodau'r gymuned trwy’r prosiect - "Buried in the Borderlands"

 

National Museum Wales has launched a new iBook that will help learners to link their ‘real’ Museum experiences with the Museum’s digital collections to enhance their digital skills.

The iBook invites learners to explore what education was like for children in Roman times, why only the rich were educated and how differently girls were treated from boys - issues which are still very relevant to the world today. It features a film created by learners from Lodgehill Primary School, which is a great example of how learners can use a visit to the Museum to inspire creativity and enhance their digital skills.

The book was developed by the Museum’s learning team as part of a series to link our popular facilitated sessions with the digital competencies required for the curriculum in Wales.

It is suitable for Key Stage 2 learners and uses Roman objects to explore numeracy and literacy – but in a Roman classroom style! It can be used as a stand-alone resource or to complement the ‘Grammaticus - Roman Classroom’ role-play session offered at the National Roman Legion Museum.

Learners can use it as a stepping stone to source accurate information and the Museum’s digital collections for their own creative digital projects.

Come and meet us and Lodgehill Primary School at the National Digital Learning Event to learn more about the project. Register your place now!’

Use the link below to view and download the iBook.

Roman School

Last Saturday (2nd June) I took part in Soapbox Science, an event promoting the role of women in science by getting them to stand on a soapbox in the middle of a city centre and explain to and, hopefully, enthuse, people about what they do. The Cardiff event (one of several held on the same day around the UK) was based outside Cardiff Central Library, by the St David’s Centre.

 

I thought that it would be the scariest event I had ever done, but in the end, it turned out to be more exciting that I expected and I was barely nervous at all. In fact, standing in a lecture hall in front of several hundred people staring at you while you present is definitely worse!

 

My talk was based around taxonomy, the science of describing, naming and classifying species, but particularly the aspect of it relating to how we create and give names to species, something we often get asked questions about during events. To this end I had created ‘Brian’, a new species of polychaete (marine bristleworms) the like of which I was pretty confident had not been seen before (at this time!). Brian, of course, was his common name, a name that might change according to who and where you were in the world. He needed a scientific name, a name that would remain consistent regardless of language or location and that allows scientists to be sure that they are talking about the same species.

 

Scientific names have 2 parts, a group (genus) name that often includes several species that appear similar in general shape and form, and a specific name, the unique name that only belongs to a single species and that separates it from all others. Names are chosen or made from one, or several, Latin or Greek words and when translated, often provide some information on important characters, general appearance or where the organism may first have been discovered. Specific names would not normally be determined without referring to the other members of the group, but for this activity, this once, we were looking at the animal in isolation.

 

Brian’s group name was Atravermis: from the Latin ‘ater’ meaning black and ‘vermis’ meaning worm. With help from my audience, we then highlighted features on Brian that stood out and we used these to create possible specific names for him. Some of those we came up with were:

rubropodus: from ‘ruber’ meaning red and ‘–podus’ meaning footed = red-footed referring to his red legs;

flavipapillatus: from ‘flavi-‘ meaning yellow and ‘papillatus’ meaning to have papillae (small round balls attached to the skin) = yellow papillated, referring to the yellow papillae found on the body.

 

There are many rules relating to how and what names you can use for organisms. Taxonomists do not name species after themselves but they can name one after someone else. Thus, another possible name proposed was:

 

johnstonei: after one of my fellow speakers, Ashleigh Johnstone, as well as several more relating to my audience.

 

Lastly, names can refer to where the animal was found so one of the last suggestions was:

morhafrenensis: from the Welsh name for the Severn Estuary, Môr Hafren.

 

If the final choice, this would have given Brian the name, Atravermis morhafrenensis, meaning ‘black worm of the Severn Estuary’!

 

So why is taxonomy important?

All species have a unique function and role in the environment and if one is affected then it is more than likely that others will be affected too, as the loss of one will always leave some form of ‘hole’. Discovering and naming species helps us recognise each as distinct from all others and then we can recognize if one (or more) is being affected by something and what that is so that we can act on it. Knowledge of species enables us to make decisions based on a more complete view of the world and scientific names mean that we can be sure we are all talking about the same species.

 

Hopefully my stint on the soapbox might have relayed some of this to my audience and left them with knowing a little bit more about scientific names and where they come from but also why they (and taxonomy as a whole) are important.

What was I thinking when I said yes?

 

Soapbox Science is a fantastic initiative to promote the role of women in science by getting them to stand on a soapbox in the middle of a city centre and explain to and, hopefully, enthuse, people about what they do. This year, the Cardiff event is being held on 2nd June, outside Cardiff Central Library, by the St David’s Centre (see poster).

 

So again, what was I thinking?

 

Well actually, I was thinking that most people don’t understand taxonomy, what it is and why it’s important, let alone why I would want to look at worms all day, and I want to tell them.

 

I want them to understand why it is important, not just to me, but why they should care too. Taxonomy is the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms (showing how they are all related to each other and patterns of evolution). It is just one aspect of my job but the one that often gets the most interest and questions and, I think, possibly the least understood part. In 2010, the Census of Marine Life returned an estimate of over one million species living in the oceans, of which around one to two thirds are thought to be unknown. Add to that more recent research that shows that many species are, in fact, species complexes that consist of multiple species that are almost indistinguishable in appearance and, actually, the estimate of undescribed species suddenly rockets.

 

But so what? Why should people care about whether we know what all the different creatures in the sea are and give them names? Well, that is what I want to explain along with a little about how we come up with names. To this end I now have the job of ‘creating’ a worm that people can help name on the day using various features and information that I will tell them. Names tell you something about the animal, sometimes appearance, sometimes where it is from, but importantly, names are unique and help you identify that one animal from a group of others that may look very similar.

 

The montaged image on this page is just one of two that I have created to show people what marine bristleworms (polychaetes) look like. Most people think of earthworms when you talk about worms but actually polychaetes are so much more: more colourful, more detailed, many have eyes and jaws and some can even grow big enough to bite you! They all have interesting names that I will help explain to demonstrate what names mean.

 

Intrigued? Want to know more? Then come down to the event on Saturday 2nd June and find out how we name species and why it is important!

(http://soapboxscience.org/soapbox-science-2018-cardiff/)

The National Museum Cardiff was happy to host a behind the scenes tour to Brecon Detectorists, a group of keen treasure hunters who jumped at the opportunity to delve into the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales archives.

David Hingley set up Brecon Metal Detecting club in 2011 and is enthusiastic about promoting responsible metal detecting to its members. “Everyone who comes through that door has a condition of membership – everything over a certain age has got to be registered for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, I insist upon it,” David explains. “We’re a small club, we’ve basically capped ourselves at 10. At the moment we’re 9, we’ve had a new guy just started, the big fella, Tom.”

And newcomer, Tom Haines, is no stranger to historical finds. Even before joining the club, he shared David’s passion for responsible detecting. While out walking his dog one day last year, Tom discovered a Bronze Age knife; which he reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme so it could be properly excavated.

“By reporting it, archaeologists might want to dig it, and that ended up being the case,” he recalls. “I could have taken it home, plonked it in my own collection and no one would have learnt anything from it and it would have just crumbled away. It’s being properly preserved and looked after and archaeologists can learn a lot from it.”

The knife was just the tip of the iceberg, however, and his discovery led archaeologists to unearth a Bronze Age burial site, complete with cremated human remains. “They found a bronze age pin in there so it was a good thing that I didn’t disturb that!” The knife and pin, as well as the urn in which they (and charred bone) were discovered is currently pending through the treasure process. The hoard will likely be acquired by Brecon Museum thanks to the Saving Treasures* project.

It’s this interest in preserving archaeological artefacts that brought the club to the museum – to discover just how important their finds can be to museum researchers, conservationists and of course, archaeologists and historians.

The club’s tour kick started in the stores with Portable Antiquities Scheme Wales Liaison Officer, Mark Lodwick, where they were able to view and handle some fascinating Bronze Age axe heads. Among them was a ribbed socketed axe head found in Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan back in 2013 that was curiously stuffed with another, bent axe head and (seemingly) ritualistically buried.

From the stores, the group moved onto the conservation labs. Conservationists Louise Mumford and Owen Lazzari were on hand to answer any queries they may have when it comes to storing their non-treasure finds and show the club some exciting pieces they are currently working on. One of the most impressive pieces was a Viking period sword from Hawarden, which had been wrapped in textile and showed traces of a horn grip – all of which had been preserved by the rust formed on the sword! When x-rayed, the amount of original metal sword that had been left was minimal, so if the rust had been removed, Louise would not have been able to find the horn and textile traces and the sword would have been indistinguishable. Luckily, with careful excavation the sword could be professionally conserved and the horn and textile discovered – these elements could easily have had all traces of removed if proper procedure was not followed.

Another fascinating find in the conservation labs was a late Iron Age or Romano-British tankard, found as part of a hoard at Langstone that was still mostly in-tact, the wood having been preserved – a very delicate piece indeed!

The club were then able to see artefacts come to life in the art department, with resident artist Tony Daley.

David Hingley believes the visit to the museum was very helpful for both himself and his members: “I can understand the need for detectorists to be instructed in how to handle and store artefacts, and that more literature should be made available.” He explained that he learnt a lot and this new information can be put into immediate practise within in the club. David already keeps his own extensive coin collection (all of which have been processed and recorded by Mark Lodwick at AC-NMW) in acid free paper envelopes – essential for preventing further metal corrosion!

 “All the clubs try to instigate in all their members that you’ve got to detect responsibly. You’ve got to have permission and you’ve got to have the right gear. If you dig a hole in someone’s field – you’ve got to look at it from your own perspective - What would you say to someone if they came into your back garden and dug a hole in your lawn and then left it without filling it? You’d go mad, wouldn’t you?”  But this isn’t the only aspect of responsible detecting and David is keen to promote the other obligations detecting requires, such as the preservation of the objects themselves, “I am continually preaching to our members!”

David feels that more metal detectorists could benefit from taking the time to learn about the role of museums and conservation in particular. “In the field you watch detectorists kick open clods to see what’s in it - they do not seem to understand that it could contain a very fragile artefact a couple of hundred years old; and they break it or they find equally fragile artefacts and put them in pockets and not containers.”

*Saving Treasures; Telling Stories is helping museums in Wales to acquire the important finds discovered by metal detectorists like David, Tom and their club members. For more information on the project, click here.