Amgueddfa Blog

April 1st 2018 marks the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force, and to coincide with this anniversary I’d like to share with you a remarkable story from the collection. Here at St Fagans, we have a collection of letters and telegrams sent to and from Eli Evans of Cardiff. They relate to the wartime experiences of his son, Arthur Wellesley Rees Evans, and it’s from these correspondence that I have managed to piece together their story.

Arthur Wellesley Rees Evans was born on 18 June 1898 in St Mellons, Cardiff. He lived with his parents – Eli and Laura Evans – at 204 Newport Road, Cardiff and was employed by Mr D. P. Barnett, a ship owner, based at the Baltic Buildings, Cardiff Docks.

In December 1916 Wellesley was accepted for the Officers Training Course, but was medically rejected at Whitehall due to Tuberculosis in both lungs. He was eventually accepted into the British Army and was passed fit for the Royal Flying Corps on 22 August 1917. A week later he was posted to the R.F.C. no 2 Cadet Wing in Winchester, before being transferred to no 25 Training Squadron in Thetford, Norfolk.

On 9 January 1918, Wellesley began his basic flying and fighter training at Old Sarum Training Base in Salisbury and graduated with the 103rd Squadron Royal Air Force on 5 April 1918, four days after the formation of the RAF. He was then transferred to No 1 School of Aerial Navigation and Bomb Dropping in Stonehenge, before leaving for London on 24 September to embark on his journey to France.

Wellesley arrived in Paris on 28 September 1918, and from there transferred to ‘somewhere in France’ where he joined up with the 110th Squadron RAF on 15 October. He took part in his first mission six days later on 21 October when his squadron flew to bomb Cologne, but Wellesley did not return. He and his observer, Lieutenant Thompson, had been shot down.

Eli and Laura Evans received official information from the Air Ministry that their son had been reported missing on 21 October. Eli sent letters and telegrams to the Air Ministry and the International Prisoner's Agency in Geneva requesting news of his son. To their relief, they finally received word that Wellesley was alive and well and being held as a prisoner of war in Limburg, Germany

Luckily for Wellesley his time as a prisoner of war was brief. The armistice signed on 11 November effectively brought the First World War to an end. He’d been a prisoner for less than a month. On 3 December, he left Germany for home via Switzerland and France and finally to Dover on 10 December. On 7 February 1919, Wellesley went to the Air Ministry to be demobilized, and a week later he resumed work with Mr D. P. Barnett in Cardiff Docks. A few months after his son returned from the war, Eli Evans passed away at the age of 52. Perhaps the stress and anxiety suffered by him during those weeks may have contributed to his early death.

After the war Wellesley remained in Cardiff working as a Marketing Officer for the National Coal Board. He married Gladys Gwendolyn Mitchell and they had a daughter. Arthur Wellesley Rees Evans died on the 5 January 1965 aged 66 in Cyncoed, Cardiff. He is buried alongside his wife at St Edeyrns Parish Church in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff.

As Lambcam comes to a close for another year, we look back at the history of lambing in Wales.

 

Voices from the Archives is a series of articles with sound clips based on recordings in the Oral History Archive of St Fagans National Museum of History. They accompany agricultural activities and events at the Museum. The speakers were farmers who had usually lived all their lives in the same locality as where they had been born and grown up. Their descriptions, experiences, recollections, voices, accents were authentic and distinctive, from different parts of Wales, and from different times.

 

March is lambing time at the Museum’s working farm, Llwyn-yr-eos. Lambing time on a farm at the foot of the Black Mountains, south east Wales was described by William Powell when interviewed in 1978. He farmed Gellywellteg, near the village of Forest Coal Pit, a few miles north east of Abergavenny. To the north of the farm were the Black Mountains, and Sugar Loaf mountain to the south.

 

He kept 140 ewes, home-bred Hill Radnor sheep, the predominant breed in the area during his farming life. They had brown-grey faces, no wool on their heads, convex noses, sturdy legs, and were compact and hardy. Two or three Hill Radnor rams were also kept, brought in, and changed every two years.

 

In the first selection of clips from the interview, William Powell describes when lambing took place and how:

The ewes about to give birth had to be checked regularly in case they had any difficulties. Ideally lambs would be born by their two front legs and head coming out first. There could be complications if one or both front legs were pointing backwards, or if the two legs were coming out but not the head. William Powell gained a reputation locally for his expertise:

Sometimes a weak lamb could be adopted by a ewe whose own lamb had died using an age-old method:

 

Young lambs could be vulnerable to illnesses and diseases, such as running noses, known locally as ‘snuff’:

 

 

And finally, how many lambs could be produced from a flock of 140 ewes:

 

 

You might have heard of various archaeological artefacts being declared treasure by coroners, but what exactly does this entail?

Treasure hearings are one of the most cheerful aspects of a coroner’s job. Amongst all the heartache and mourning that goes with knowing the ins and outs of people’s (sometimes tragic) passing, many coroners look forward to declaring pieces of the past treasure. Not only do these items bring the coroner pleasure, but they are landmark pieces of local history that have been hidden from us for hundreds of years.

Last Thursday, 15th March, Mark Layton, HM Coroner for Pembrokeshire, declared 6 local discoveries treasure at Milford Haven Coroners Court - and I was privy to the process. First and foremost, I learned that what goes on in the court is mostly a formality. The experts at NMW offer thoroughly researched reports and advice on whether each item is treasure and Coroner’s Clerk, Gareth Warlow, compiles all the evidence prior to the hearing.

This particular hearing was full of some really stunning pieces, including a beautiful 16th Century gilt ring and a fragment of a silver Viking arm ring. The arm ring is an important piece in the puzzle that is Pembrokeshire’s possibly Nordic-influenced past. Finder, Ken Lunn was there to witness the confirmation of his landmark discovery being officially declared treasure.

But it was a post-medieval silver scabbard chape that really drew in the crowds. With the landowner attending as well as the finder’s entire family! While it may sound surprising for this to be a family affair, it is certainly exciting to see a piece of metal you have discovered on an old patch of land be confirmed as an important enough part of local history to have it marked as treasure. If only more finders would attend and take part in celebrating their role in helping the experts to build up a bigger picture of Wales’ rich history – even if it was a quick stop before Birthday lunch!

After recording each artefact and offering any comments or objections to be voiced by both landowner and finder, Mr Layton declared all the objects treasure and they will now be sent on the intrepid journey to the British Museum for valuation. They will then be acquired by Welsh museums thanks to the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It may be a long, arduous road for these little glimpses of history, but it’s important they are accurately recorded so we don’t miss on any little glimmer of light they may shine on the past.

Click here for more information on Saving Treasures; Telling Stories.

Hi, Eirini here – I am a student intern in the Archaeology and Numismatics department at NMW, Cardiff. I’ve been taking a look at the museum’s extensive coin collection and will be creating a series of blogs on each of them.

Today I am looking at ancient coins from my home country of Greece. The collection of Greek coinage dates back to over 2000 years ago, but the designs are in great condition. They are all made of silver or gold and we can see the development of currency through them – beginning with rough coins that look like ingots to detailed chunky coins featuring Emperors faces, some from Macedonia and Byzantium as well as famous leaders like Alexander the Great.

I’ve picked my two favourite coins from the collection:

Alexander the Great, Macedonian Drachma

4 Drachum from Pella, Macedonia (dating to 315BC) features Alexander wearing a lion skin, the symbol of Greek hero Hercules, on the front with Alexander’s name inscribed on the back next to an image of Zeus. This design was mimicked by Emperors following Alexander’s death.

I like that this coin is in such good condition. We can see the details of Alexander’s face – it’s impressive considering the tools they had! You can read the inscription clearly despite how old it is.

Byzantine Empress Theodora, Constantinople Nomisma

 A gold tetarteron dating from the reign of Theodora (AD 1055-1056) featuring a portrait of Theodora holding a sceptre and orb, on the other side is a depiction of Jesus Christ. The same iconography of Jesus was used on other Byzantine emperors’ coins, but with their own portraits in place of Theodora’s.

I like how this coin is also in great condition, however, the artwork is much simpler on Byzantine coins with less intricate detailing.

Next week, I will be looking at some Roman coins - a common metal detectorist find in Wales. Greek coins, unfortunately, aren't found in Wales as Greece never invaded the British Isles! Remember to always report any findings to the Portable Antiquities Scheme to allow us to keep learning from the past.

Yn ystod y 1970au cynnar aeth staff yr amgueddfa ati i recordio hen ffermwyr yn disgrifio ffermio yng Nghymru ar ddechrau’r ugeinfed ganrif cyn datblygiadau peiriannau ffermio o’r 1950au ymlaen. Mae’r recordiau yn cael ei chadw yn Archif Sain yr amgueddfa.

Yn 1975 holodd John Williams Davies y ffermwr Dan Theophilus am y profiad o ffermio defaid ar ddechrau’r ugeinfed ganrif.

Roedd Dan Theophilus yn byw ar fferm Allt Yr Erw, Rhandirmwyn, pentref yng ngogledd-ddwyrain Sir Gaerfyrddin.

Mae Dan Theophilus yn sôn am ofalu am y defaid adeg ŵyna, yr achosion mae’n meddwl sydd yn arwain at ddefaid yn cael trafferth i ddod ac ŵyn, a’r tywydd gwaethaf ar gyfer y tymor ŵyna.

Dan Theophilus, Allt Yr Erw, Rhandirmwyn

Mae’n dweud sut oedd perswadio defaid i fabwysiadu oen, y perthynas rhwng y ddafad a’r oen a pha mor ffyddlon byddai’r defaid i’r ŵyn ar ôl ŵyna wrth iddo droi’r defaid i’r mynydd.