Medieval and Later

The Early Medieval collections illustrate the years from the 5th to the 11th centuries, a period which was characterised by small independent kingdoms ruled by princes. A key development in this period was the growth of Christianity, with monasteries becoming established in Wales by the 6th century. The pre-Norman bells in the collection are rare surviving examples of early medieval ecclesiastical metalwork. The custom of erecting stone memorials and monuments has resulted in a striking record which provides information on the development of language, burial practice and artistic traditions. A large number of originals and casts are in the collections. These range from early examples, inscribed in Latin and ogam, to later free-standing crosses.


The medieval collection contains antiquities from the 11th - 16th centuries. From the late 11th century the Normans and the English fought for two centuries to bring Wales under their control, whilst native rulers built up a power-base in the north-west. Warfare during the early period is illustrated by swords. spears and arrowheads from various Welsh castles, and for the late medieval period an early form of handgun (hackbut) found in the sea off Bardsey Island, Gwynedd. Early in the 15th century, deprivation in Wales resulted in a national rebellion, led by Owain Glyndwr. His seal, and a gilt bronze armorial mount which bears the arms of the Princes of Gwynedd are on display.

Everyday life in medieval Wales is illustrated by a large collection of domestic secular finds from town and country ranging from wooden buckets to items of personal jewellery, such as the remarkable Oxwich gold brooch from Gower. Evidence of industry in Wales is also well represented with finds of metalworking, amongst other items. Churches and monasteries affected most areas of everyday life, and were centres of learning and artistic endeavour. Ecclesiastical objects include a processional cross, and rare wooden rood effigies from Mochdre, Powys. Reference collections include seal matrices, decorated floor tiles and medieval ceramics

Dr Mark Redknap, Medievalist

  • National Museum Cardiff

    National Museum Cardiff

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    St Fagans

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Big Pit

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    National Wool Museum

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    National Roman Legion Museum

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    National Slate Museum

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    National Waterfront Museum

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.