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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Royal Commission at Large - Saturday 2 March






In addition to “Inside Welsh Homes” Gallery Talk and People’s Collection Wales event to be held in Bangor Museum on Saturday 2 March, the Royal Commission will also be attending two other events in Carmarthen on that day, supporting other heritage organizations. In the first of these, Royal Commission military historian, Medwyn Parry, is the guest speaker for the Dyfed Family History Society AGM at St. Peter’s Hall, Carmarthen, between 10am―3pm. The title of his talk is Twentieth-Century Military Remains in Wales with an emphasis on World War I, and will no doubt prove most entertaining. For further details, please contact: Dyfed Family History Society.



The second event on that day, also in Carmarthen, is the Carmarthenshire Archaeology Day organised by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Here, Dr Eurwyn Wiliam, Chairman of the Royal Commission and author the highly–acclaimed publication, The Welsh Cottage: Y Bwthyn Cymreig, will be giving an authoritive talk on The Welsh Cottage. Other speakers at the event will include Dr Rod Bale and Cliff Bateman. The event will be held between 9.30am ― 4.30pm in the Halliwell Centre, Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen. For further information, please contact Ed Davies: e.davies@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk; tel: 01558 825993.




Staff from the Royal Commission will be on-hand throughout the day to answer enquiries and chat to visitors at both events. In particular, please come along to our stall where there will be a full-range of publications, including our three latest titles: Fields of Play: The Sporting Heritage of Wales, Y Tu Mewn i Gartrefi Cymru / Inside Welsh Homes and Worktown: The Drawings of Falcon Hildred― all on sale with a special 10% discount. The day promises to be a wonderful opportunity for all, so please come and join us―wherever we may be!

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Monday, 25 February 2013

Clockwise, a digital legacy for an exhibition by the Ceredigion Museum Young Curators





Showcasing on The People’s Collection Wales


Creating a digital legacy for temporary exhibitions has never been easier! As is being demonstrated by a group of Young Curators from Ceredigion Museum.

Aged fourteen to seventeen, the Young Curators from Ceredigion Museum include Welsh Baccalaureate pupils from local secondary schools. The group worked together in Autumn 2012 to create a fun filled and innovative temporary exhibition at the Museum Gallery in Aberystwyth. The temporary exhibition was called ‘Clockwise’ and it offered a fascinating glimpse into the history of Ceredigion through the eyes of the Young Curators. Aspects of town life through the decades was explored, from the 1800s to the modern day. The exhibition answered questions such as: Why did people come into town? What did they wear there? And what did they see and hear in the town?

Whilst the exhibition was on display in the museum gallery visitors could enjoy a diverse selection of images and objects, some from the museum collection and some created by the Young Curators themselves. The display included a montage of film from the 1970s, a gruesome chemist’s shop window from the 1920s and a beautiful woollen day dress from the mid-1800s. As the ‘Clockwise’ exhibition highlighted, however, ‘time waits for no man’ and change is inevitable; on the 19 January 2013 it was time for the Young Curators to take down their temporary exhibition and start researching another aspect of the museum’s collection.


With support from The People’s Collection learning officer Anna Evans, who is based at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments Wales, the ‘Clockwise’ exhibition now has a digital future. The Young Curators from Ceredigion Museum are now curating a collection on The People’s Collection Wales website, creating a digital legacy for their exhibition.

You can view the first item uploaded @ http://www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk/Item/59783-young-curators-clockwise-exhibition-2012

Keep an eye out for further blog entries as the full collection is uploaded onto The People’s Collection Wales.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Get Involved With Britain from Above! Carmarthen






Tuesday 12, March, 2013 - 3:30-5:30pm

Britain from Above (www.britainfromabove.org.uk), a new online historical resource of spectacular aerial photos from 1919-1953, is looking for volunteers to get involved and help identify hundreds of unlocated images as well as share memories and local knowledge.

A short introductory session is being held at:
Carmarthen Community Education Centre
Furnace Road
Carmarthen SA31 1EU

For anyone interested in finding out more about the project.
The FREE session will include;
• Short presentation on the project
• Exploration of the website (with guidance if preferred)
• How to guide to take away

It will be an excellent opportunity to try out a new history resource in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and take part in a national research project.

Places are limited, to book please contact below;
Natasha Scullion, Britain from Above Activity Officer, Wales.
e-mail: natasha.scullion@rcahmw.gov.uk
Telephone: 01970 621200 Mobile: 07920296279

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

“Inside Welsh Homes” Gallery Talk and People’s Collection Wales Event





The 200 images in this book have been selected from the extensive archive of the National Monuments Record of Wales.

Saturday 2 March will be the last opportunity to see the Inside Welsh Homes exhibition at Bangor Museum and Art Gallery. At 2.00pm, Royal Commission staff member and co-author of the lavishly illustrated publication, “Inside Welsh Homes”, Rachael Barnwell, will be giving an illustrated talk on the subject. To coincide with this event, there will also be a People’s Collection Wales event where members of the public are invited to bring along their own objects, photographs and stories to be scanned, photographed or recorded and added to the Peoples Collection Wales website. Why not come along, contribute and share your story?

For more details and museum opening times, visit the museum’s website.

The exhibition will be touring other venues in Wales in 2013. To find out where you can see the exhibition, please visit our website.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Thankful Villages Run 2013





Aerial view of one of the three Thankful Villages in Wales, Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn,
AP_2004_0642   NPRN:33047

This summer Royal Commission staff member Medwyn Parry and co-rider Dougie Bancroft will be undertaking a motorbike journey to visit all 51 “Thankful Villages” in the United Kingdom. These are villages where there is no war memorial, because all of those who went away to fight in the Great War were fortunate enough to return home alive.

The trip will start at Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, near Aberystwyth, on 27 July 2013 and will finish at the same point nine days and 2,500 miles later, on 4 August.

There are three Thankful Villages in Wales – Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, Cardiganshire; Colwinston, Glamorgan; and Herbrandston, Pembrokeshire – where they also returned from the Second World War, making it the only “Double Thankful” village in Wales.

Medwyn has been amazed by the outstanding generosity of complete strangers who have embraced the spirit of the project. The aim is to raise £51,000 for the Royal British Legion. As far as he is aware, nobody has visited all 51 villages during one journey.

Those who live in the Thankful Villages are tremendously proud of their status. Medwyn & Dougie plan to meet with residents – especially descendants of those who returned from WWI.

The Welsh Government First Minister, Carwyn Jones, has issued a statement, giving his support to the ride.

Further details can be found on the website: thankfulvillagesrun.com

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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Surveying Cottages at Glendalough in Ireland





Glendalough, miners cottages recently surveyed.
At the beginning of February the Metal Links archaeologist, Samantha Jones headed off to Glendalough in Ireland with Louise Barker, Royal Commission investigator. Glendalough, famous for its monastic remains, is also home to a number of mine sites that dot the valley side. The mountains were mined for lead and zinc from at least the 1790s up until the 1950s and as a result the area is littered with the remains of this past industry.

Our visit was at the request of the Glendalough mining heritage group, partners on the Metal Links project. Much of the mine complex at Glendalough has been surveyed by the group however there are remains of a number of miners cottages linked together via lanes and surrounded by field systems that have never been fully investigated. This was therefore the focus for our work.

On our first day we awoke to find it had been snowing throughout the night. Luckily this didn’t stop us and although bitterly cold we cracked on with the survey using both the total station and GPS equipment. Come spring the site will have disappeared beneath a dense covering of bracken, and thus a winter-time survey was essential. Over the two days, we collected all the information on the complex, together with sketches and photographs to help produce a series of plans back in the office.  The site and our survey will now form the focus of an event during County Wicklow’s Heritage Week in August, when it’s hoped that the local community will try their hand at surveying and also provide the Metal Links partners with valuable memories and information about the site.

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Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Library of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales





National Monuments Record of Wales’ Search Room and Library
Aberystwyth is a town of books, housing the National Library of Wales, the University’s libraries and the newly-housed public library. One of its least known and best kept secrets is the gem-like collection held in the library of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Here can be found a small specialist library that supports the work of staff as well as providing a reference collection for the general public to browse when visiting. It holds books, guides, pamphlets, maps and journals relating to all aspects of the built environment ranging from Neolithic dwellings to railway transport systems; building legislation to tinplate processing.

In particular, books of Welsh interest can be found telling the story of how Wales was formed as a land and as a nation. They cover the geology of Wales, its topography, archaeology and architecture. There are local, county and national studies that offer context, interpretation and explanation for the way Wales has developed. The library holds reports and works of reference that place the Welsh story in a British, European and global context. Whether you are interested in the Romans or in the Middle Ages, in specific architectural features such as stained glass or cruck frames, in how the industrial revolution took hold and shaped Wales, or how non-conformity was manifested, you will find a book that aids your research in the Royal Commission’s library.

It is a unique collection that has grown through acquisition, donations and books presented in lieu of copyright and license fees. Examples include English Vernacular Architecture by Eric Mercer (1975) in our architecture section, and Larn’s Shipwreck Index of the British Isles (2000) in our maritime section. We also hold a small collection of rare books and first editions, including Thomas Pennant’s, A Tour in Wales, vol. II (1783) and William Coxe’s An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire (1801) which provide wonderful descriptions and illustrations of the scenic wonders and antiquities of Wales. They also depict some of the industrial marvels of the time, such as Blaenavon Ironworks. 


Plate showing Blaenavon Ironworks from An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, William Coxe, 1801

The visitor to the library will find a full set of the journals published by Welsh county, antiquarian, archaeological and historical societies, which present over 100 years of record and inquiry. There are also a wide range of archaeological, architectural and historical journals covering such specialist topics as industrial engineering, in the International Journal of History and Technology, produced by the Newcomen Society, and Welsh nonconformity, in the Capel Newsletter.

You are welcome to come in and browse the library’s collections on Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 4:00, Wednesday 10:30 to 4:30.

If you would like further information, please contact us at nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk or ring 01970 621200.

Plan of Tre’r Ceiri Hillfort from Thomas Pennant’s, A Tour in Wales, vol. II, 1783

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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Rhys ap Thomas and the fatal blow that killed Richard III on Bosworth Field






One of my responsibilities as People’s Collection Wales Officer is to respond to enquiries by members of the public who want to know more about the items we’ve uploaded. Yesterday morning, beneath our photograph of the effigy of Rhys ap Thomas in St Peter’s Church, Carmarthen, was the following highly topical question: ‘Is this the man who felled Richard III?’

In the news and on Monday night’s Channel Four documentary, we had confirmation that the skeleton, recently discovered under the car park in Leicester, was that of Richard III, killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Not being an expert myself, I asked around my medievalist colleagues and was told that although there is no firm evidence that he was the man who killed Richard, Rhys ap Thomas was an important Welsh magnate who closely supported Henry Tudor. He and his retainers would have formed the close guard around Henry during the battle of Bosworth in 1485. That, together with the fact that he was knighted by Henry on the battle field, and later claims that he used a poleaxe to kill Richard, certainly make him one of the prime candidates to have delivered that fatal blow.

By Helen Rowe.

See Rhys ap Thomas’s effigy on People’s Collection Wales.

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Friday, 1 February 2013

The Ladies of Llangollen





Plas Newydd. In her diary, Eleanor Butler often wrote that ‘my beloved and I went the Home Circuit.’ This was a short walk around the garden at Plas Newydd, which they would take at a run in bad weather.
NPRN 27760   DI2006_1033

Throughout February events will be taking place across the UK to recognise the contribution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to British history. The first LGBT History Month in Britain was in 2005, with Wales launching its own annual programme of events 2011.

LGBT history is a relatively modern area of study. Simply finding LGBT people and experiences in the history books, archives and museums stores is challenging and often controversial. However, one of the most famous examples of a same-sex relationship in British history is found right here in Wales.

On a spring night in April 1778, two upper-class Irish women ran away from their family homes in County Kilkenny, south-east Ireland. Lady Eleanor Butler (1739 – 1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755 – 1831) caused great scandal among their contemporaries when they conspired together to escape unwelcome marriage proposals and an unwanted future as married women. Fleeing across the Irish Sea, they eventually settled in an unassuming two-storey cottage known as Pen y Maes in the quiet rural village of Llangollen in north Wales in 1780.

Together, they refurbished and extended Pen y Maes and its grounds which they renamed Plas Newydd. Plas Newydd (New Place) gave Eleanor and Sarah the freedom to live the life they wished for together completely contra to the expectations of the day. Eleanor and Sarah, who became known as the Ladies of Llangollen, were seemingly untroubled by the controversy their lifestyle caused. Supported by a modest income provided by disapproving relatives they redeveloped Plas Newydd in a gothic style, with triple-arched windows, stained glass and ornately carved oak interiors. The Ladies were visited at home by many notable figures of the day, including the poets Wordsworth, Shelley and Byron who venerated their extremely close relationship. Even political figures, such as the Duke of Wellington, visited them and kept up the tradition of bringing a piece of wood to decorate both the interior and exterior of the house as a gift for their hospitality.

The improvement of the house and grounds was a lifelong project for the women, and is the subject of much comment in their letters and diaries. The Royal Commission’s archive holds plans and photographs of Plas Newydd that show many of the enhancements they made.

Eleanor Butler died in 1829 and was buried at the St. Collen’s Church in Llangollen. Sarah Ponsonby passed away two years later, and was interred in the same grave, along with their faithful housekeeper, Mary Carryl. The Ladies had lived and had a life together at Plas Newydd, for more than fifty years. Though the nature of their relationship remains a subject of debate, Plas Newydd stands as a legacy of the unconventional life they made together.

Plas Newydd is now a museum in the ownership of Denbighshire County Council, and is open to the public.

More information about Plas Newydd, including a list of archive material, can be found on Coflein.

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