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Robin Gwyndaf retires from St Fagans National History Museum

In 1964, a fresh-faced young historian started work at the Welsh Folk Museum at St Fagans. Dr Robin Gwyndaf has become synonymous with the Museum and its ground-breaking research in the fields of Folklore and Oral History. This spring, Dr Gwyndaf, Curator of Folklore, retires from St Fagans National History Museum, but leaves a legacy and collection unrivalled to any other in Wales and maybe the world.

From an early age, Dr Gwyndaf was introduced to the tradition of storytelling, singing and poetry of his native district of Llangwm, in the former county of north Denbighshire, an area famed for its rich musical and bardic traditions. Captivated by the magic of the Welsh language, its dialects, mythology and oral traditions, Dr Gwyndaf has worked tirelessly, undertaking extensive fieldwork the length and breadth of Wales and the comprehensive collection in the Museum archives now contains several thousand folklore items, ranging from rhymes and nursery rhymes to riddles, folk hymns and nature lore.

During his career, Dr Gwyndaf has interviewed some 3,000 informants in Wales, 450 of which are recorded on tape with a total of over 700 hours of recordings kept at the Archive in St Fagans. These mainly relate to folk tales, folk traditions and folk belief, of which Dr Gwyndaf is the country's leading authority.

A poet and prolific author, Dr Gwyndaf has over 300 articles on Welsh folk culture and his 12 books include Chwedlau Gwerin Cymru – Welsh Folk Tales (1989) and Teulu, Bro a Thelyn (‘Family, Community and Harp' – a study of a folk singer and tradition-bearer, 1997). He has also published poetry, essays and has travelled extensively with his work and as a representative of UNESCO.

John Williams–Davies, Director of St Fagans, has worked with Dr Gwyndaf since the 1970s and says of his colleague: “Robin Gwyndaf has been the voice of Welsh folklore for as long as most people remember and is known not only in Wales but also worldwide. His commitment to the Museum and to the task of recording our storytelling heritage has been tremendous. The archive he has built up over decades will be an irreplaceable resource to future generation both in Wales and internationally.”

St Fagans: National History Museum is one of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales' seven national museums across Wales. The others are National Museum Cardiff, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales is the new name for the National Museums & Galleries of Wales.

Entry to all Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales sites is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.