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I have just begun my fourth week as Principal Curator of Historic Buildings, here at St. Fagans, and this is my first blog post. My background is in archaeology, and more specifically, experimental archaeology.

This type of archaeological investigation tests the theories that have grown out of excavated archaeological evidence. Essentially we try and build something that would leave the same evidence as discovered, if excavated in the future. This challenges our assumptions and raises new questions.

Iron Age Roundhouses

In my time I have built four roundhouses based on the archaeology of Iron Age homes. As the excavated archaeology in many cases is less than 30cm in depth, everything above ground is conjecture derived from the surviving evidence. As you may imagine, trying to figure out the structural details of buildings that haven’t been seen in 2,000 is a challenging yet satisfying task. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to be part of St. Fagans latest experimental projects – the construction of an Iron Age farmhouse based on evidence from Bryn Eryr in Anglesey, and Llys Llywelyn, a medieval Royal Court based on evidence from Llys Rhosyr, again in Angelsey.

As I write the thatching of the farmhouse is underway, and it won’t be long until the building is watertight. This will be a blessed relief, as the prolonged rain this winter has prevented the buildings 1.8m-thick clay walls from drying as quickly as hoped. Yes, the walls are of solid clay – unlike most excavated roundhouses which had wattle and daub or stone walls. Although such buildings were not uncommon, this is the first reconstruction of this kind of under-represented roundhouse.

A Medieval Prince's Court

The two buildings of Llys Llywelyn have reached chest height, and the Museum’s stonemasons are about to start on the window reveals. The court was discovered in Anglesey and excavated between 1992 and 1996. The surviving masonry stands no more than 1m in height. Therefore, like the farmhouse, this too is a replica based on excavated evidence.

Written records from the period, such as ‘Brut y Tywysogion’ state clearly that there was a Royal Hall at this location, and frequented by Llywelyn ap Iorwerth during the first half of the 13th century. What we do not know for certain, however, is what it looked like. This knowledge comes from the comparative analysis of surviving Royal halls built during the same period, as seen at Conwy castle and the Bishop’s Palace in St. Davids.

As I plan to write regular blog posts to keep you informed of the latest developments, I will also aim to re-cap the work that has already been achieved so that you have a clearer understanding of these remarkable buildings, and our attempts at bringing it back to life.

Spelt thatching a roof
Thatching the Iron Age roundhouses - almost there!
Thatched reconstructed roundhouses
Finishing the thatchwork on the Iron Age roundhouses
Llys Rhosyr being built
Work on Llys Rhosyr is continuing
Craftsmen working on a stone building
Work on the window reveals starts, using traditional stonemasonry techniques

@DyddiadurKate - Gwneud Menyn

Mared McAleavey, 25 March 2015

Yn ei dyddiadur ddoe, nododd Kate ei bod wedi 'Corddi y boreu. Modryb Erwfedig yma yn nol ymenyn.'

Roedd gwaith y llaethdy yn amlwg yn rhan ganolog o’i bywyd, a hithau’n cael ei disgrifio fel “merch ffarmwr gwaith llaethdy” yng Nghyfrifiad 1911. Dwi eisoes wedi disgrifio’n fras y broses o gorddi yn Tyhen, ond beth oedd y camau nesaf er mwyn gwneud menyn? Dyma ddyfynnu Kate unwaith eto yn disgrifio’r prosesau mewn cyfweliad hanes llafar gyda Minwel Tibbott nôl ym 1970. 

Wedi i’r menyn ffurfio, byddai Kate yn “i godi o wyneb y llaeth” gyda llaw a’i roi mewn noe, sef “fel bywlen bren fawr.” ‘Doedd dim yn cael ei wastraffu, ac unai byddai’r llaeth enwyn yn cael ei roi i’r anifeiliaid, neu byddai’r teulu yn “iwsho hwnnw i neud siot a phethe felly te, a gneud glasdwr [sef dŵr a llaeth enwyn] i fynd allan i’w yfed adag g’neud gwair … Fydde llawer iawn yn rhoi blaw’ ceirch hefyd, jesd i sgatro fo ar wyneb y can ‘n te wrth fynd â fo allan i’r cae gwair.”

I drin y menyn, roedd angen ei olchi’n lân mewn dŵr oer, “oedd raid chi ga’l y llaeth i gyd allan ne fysa fo’m yn cadw dim.” Wedi ei olchi, roedd rhaid cael gwared ar yr hylif. Yn y cyfweliad, mae Kate yn disgrifio'r hyn rwy’n ei adnabod fel clapiwr menyn, sef teclyn siâp madarch a ddefnyddid i weithio’r menyn yn y noe i gael y dŵr allan - “sgimer fydde ni’n galw beth o’ gynno ni yn i drin o’n te.”  Byddai Kate “yn gwbod yn syth” pan fo’r menyn yn barod “fydde chi’n sprinclo halen a’no fo a’i gymysgu’ o reit dda, a wedyn i godi o a neud o’n bwysi wedyn.”  Roedd ganddi “glorian i bwyso fo’n te, ‘dyn godi o, hynny o’chi’n feddwl fysa gneud pwys ‘n te a wedyn roi o mewn cwpan fenyn … ‘dyn o’dd o’n dŵad yn grwn … Roi o wedyn ar y slab carreg ‘n te, yna fydda ni’n roi’r print arno fo … Oedd pob ffarm a’i brint i hunan … Weles i ddeilen derwen, o’ hwnnw’n neis a wyddo chi mesen a’n o fo te … Welish i fuwch genno ni hefyd ryw dro … O’dda ni’n werthu o’n lleol i siop yn y pentre y rhan fwya” ac yn cyfnewid y menyn am “neges yn y siop.”

The final countdown

Bernice Parker, 25 March 2015

Another successful lambing season at St Fagans is drawing to a close. We hope you’ve enjoyed watching all the action live on Lambcam along the way. There are still a few ewes left to deliver, as I write this the lamb-o-meter has clocked up 144. We’re on course to beat our target of 150 lambs, and hope to pass 160. That figure includes:

  • 5 sets of triplets
  • One set of quads (our first ever).

There’s been some losses along the way:

  • One set of twins - early miscarriage.
  • One set of twins – stillborn.
  • Four lambs accidentally smothered by their mothers
  • One triplet failed to thrive – died at 2 days old.

We are expecting to finish with two lambs being bottle fed – that’s Herbert, the smallest of the quads, and another lamb whose mother's milk dried up due to mastitis. So until next year, here is a picture of Herbert enthusiastically tucking into his lunch yesterday.

 

Herbert the lamb eating his lunch - with half of it over his face

See you in 2016 Lambcam-ers!

I Spy…Nature out and about

Katie Mortimer-Jones, 24 March 2015

Last year Staff from the Departments of Natural Sciences, and Learning, Participation and Interpretation took their I Spy…Nature themed pop-up museum out into the community. This year we have been delivering I Spy…Nature related workshops throughout March as part of the I Spy…Nature Exhibition outreach programme. Workshops at National Museum Cardiff allowed members of the public to carry out fieldwork within the museum, bringing the outside in! Visitors were able to explore the miniature world of British Slugs and Snails, go pond dipping, explore a rocky shore (utilising our brand new portable 3D Rocky shore) and go worm charming with our OPAL Community Science officer. During the middle part of March, staff ran a series of school workshops both at National Museum Cardiff and within a local primary school, where pupils could explore the seafloor, Fossils and Minerals before trying their hand at scientific illustration with a local artist.  The aim of these sessions was to inspire children to explore their natural environment and also to give them a chance to experience the work that museum scientists do. For British Science and Engineering Week, staff held an I Spy…Nature Open day in the main Hall at National Museum Cardiff, with a plethora of specimens from our collections and even a giant lobster, fly and squirrel!

 For more information on the I Spy…Nature activities see our Storify Story.

Viewing lichens with OPAL community scientist

I Spy...Nature workshops at Cogan Primary School

I Spy...Nature workshops at National Museum Cardiff on fossils

Exploring our 3D rocky shore model

Wrth ddarllen cofnodion diweddar @DyddiadurKate, mae’n hawdd anghofio am gysgod y rhyfel ar fywydau trigolion y Sarnau. Heblaw am un nodyn byr am orymdaith y milwyr drwy Feirionnydd ac ambell gyfeiriad at gasglu arian er budd y Belgiaid, dyw Kate ddim yn ymhelaethu rhyw lawer am y rhyfel yn ei dyddiadur.

Mae’n rhaid cofio nad oedd effaith y rhyfel ar y ffrynt cartref mor amlwg yn ystod misoedd cynnar y brwydro. Wrth gwrs, dyma’r cyfnod cyn gorfodaeth filwrol a chyn i ddinistr y cyfandir ddylanwadu ar bob cymuned a theulu mewn rhyw fodd. Ar ddechrau 1915, nid oedd prinder llafur ar ffermydd Cymru, nac ychwaith gofid am gynhyrchiant bwyd – roedd bywyd bob dydd yn mynd yn ei flaen fel arfer.

Ond er hyn, erbyn diwedd Mawrth 1915 rydym yn gweld yn nyddiadur Kate ambell awgrym fod y rhyfel yn nesau at adref. Ar 18 Mawrth, mae’n nodi’r canlynol:

18 Mawrth – Myfi yn mynd ir seiat. Seiat ymadawol a R. Daniel Jones

Mae enw Robert Daniel Jones yn ymddangos droeon yn y dyddiadur rhwng Ionawr a Mawrth 1915. Roedd ymhlith cylch cymdeithasol Kate a’i theulu ac yn ymwelydd cyson â Tyhen. Hyd y gwela i, roedd yn byw yn y Derwgoed ac yn gweithio fel gwas ffarm efallai?

22 Chwefror – Berwi pen mochyn, a thoddi lard. Myfi yn mynd ir Hendre. Tomi a Richard yma min nos. Robert Daniel Jones yn ymadael or Caerau ir Derwgoed yn wael.

Yng nghefn ei dyddiadur, roedd Kate yn cadw cofnod o gyfeiriadau ffrindiau oddi cartref. Ymhlith yr enwau, mae tri cyfeiriad ar gyfer Robert Daniel Jones – pob un yn gysylltiedig â 7fed Bataliwn y Ffiwsilwyr Brenhinol Cymreig. Wrth bori dogfennau milwrol y Rhyfel Mawr ar-lein, mae’n dod yn amlwg pam fod seiat ymadawol iddo ar 18 Mawrth 1915 – pum niwrnod yn ddiweddarach ymrestrodd â’r fyddin. Gallwch weld ei gerdyn medalau fan hyn.

Ffurfiwyd 7fed Bataliwn y Ffiwsilwyr Cymreig yn y Drenewydd ym Medi 1914. Bataliwn Meirionnydd a Maldwyn oedd hon â grewyd i wasanaethu gartref, yn hytrach na thramor. Ar 22 Ebrill 1915, symudodd y bataliwn i Northampton – ffaith sy’n cael ei ategu yng nghefn dyddiadur Kate:

Pte R. Daniel Jones

3679 2/7th Batt RWF Co. D

c/o Mrs Callon

78 Adams Avenue

Northampton

Prin iawn yw’r sôn am Robert Daniel yn y dyddiadur wedi Mawrth 1915. O’r cerdyn medalau sydd i’w ganfod yn y National Archives yn Kew, rydym yn gwybod iddo oroesi’r rhyfel.  Cafodd ei ryddhau o’r fyddin ar 22 Ebrill 1916 oherwydd gwaeledd. Mae natur ei salwch yn ddirgelwch, ond mae un cyfeiriad yng nghefn y dyddiadur yn ei leoli yn ysbyty filwrol Cherryhinton, ger Caergrawnt:

Pte R. D. Jones 3679

2/7 Battalion RWF D Coy

Transport Section

Cherryhinton Military Hospital

War 6. C.

Cambridge

Roedd Robert Daniel ymhlith y cyntaf o gyfoedion Kate i ymuno â’r fyddin. Cadwch lygad ar y blog dros y misoedd nesaf i glywed mwy am hanes y lleill.

Os oes rhagor o fanylion gennych am Robert Daniel Jones, neu unrhyw berson neu leoliad sy’n cael eu crybwyll yn y dyddiadur, ebostiwch neu gadewch neges isod. Diolch yn fawr!