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We’re in the process of preparing objects to go on display in the new galleries that are being built on the site of St Fagans.  #makinghistory  

As the textile conservator, I have come across three objects that, though they are kept in the textile store, are not exclusively made of textile but have paper components and have botanical specimens attached, neither of which come under my area of expertise.  Hence, I’ve roped in my two colleagues, the  Senior Conservator Archives and the Senior Conservator Natural Sciences and the three of us will now jointly treat these objects. 

Joint projects are always a great opportunity for sharing skills and learning from colleagues so we’re all really looking forward to this!

Portfolio consisting of paper, botanical specimen and textile

Fragile? and the youth forum

Sian Lile-Pastore, 17 March 2015

Our design inspiration
Our design inspiration

The youth forum in National Museum Cardiff has been working on lots of different projects, but RIGHT NOW they are putting together a publication to tie in with the upcoming contemporary ceramics exhibition Fragile?. This publication is going to be alternative guide to the exhibition and will contain interviews with artists along with some superb articles looking at ceramics, vinyl, death and murder.

We have had some help from lots of museum staff along with interview and writing tips from Emma Geliot (editor of CCQ magazine) and layout and design work planning with Liz Price from Chipper Designs.

We hope it's going to be all ready for the opening on April 18th, but there's still a lot of work ahead! it's just like being on Press Gang (90s tv reference...)

  • There are currently about 100 breeding ewes in the flock and we expect 150+ lambs.
  • Our ewes are 2 years old the first time they lamb.
  •  The gestation period for a sheep is 5 months:
  1. The ewes come into season in September.
  2. We put our rams in the field in with the girls on 1st October.
  3. Lambing will commence in the first week of March.
  4. We choose this schedule in order to have lambs on show in the fields for Easter.
  •  The pregnant ewes come in from the field just after Christmas for extra care, shelter and food. This is important for strong lamb development.
  • The ewes are all scanned in the New Year and we separate them into two groups:
  1. Those expecting a single lamb in one group.
  2. Those expecting twins or triplets in the other.
  • Normal presentation for a lamb to be born is head and forelegs first. If this is the case then the ewes can normally manage with no assistance. They will sometimes need help if the lamb is particularly big, or if it is coming the wrong way round.
  • Once they have given birth, the ewe and her lambs will be put into a separate pen:
  1. This allows the bonding process to happen.
  2. It prevents the ewes that haven’t lambed yet overenthusiastically ‘adopting/stealing’ someone else’s baby!
  3. They stay separate for 1-2 days.
  4. Weather permitting, healthy ewes and lambs can go out into the field after 3-5 days.
  •  It is normal for ewes to have blood and mucus around their back ends after giving birth.
  •  It is normal for new babies to sleep a lot - newborn lambs will sleep for 12-16 hours a day.
  • We will probably keep or sell most of the female lambs as pedigree breeding stock, most of the males will go for meat with a few of the best sold as breeding rams.
  •  Lamb on your plate is anything from 4-12 months old.

a llanwennog lamb takes it first steps

A newborn llanwenog lamb

newborn Llanwenog twins

lambing at Llwyn-yr-eos Farm

Gareth Beech, 3 March 2015

Lambing is one of the most important and busiest times of the year on the farm. It means long hours, day and night, watching over and caring for the sheep to ensure their lambs are delivered safely and that they survive the first couple of days. Lambs are a major source of income by being sold for meat, and provide replacement stock for flocks.

The keeping of sheep is such a significant part of farming in Wales because they are suited to the high altitude, damp climate and generally poor land. Sheep can survive and flourish on grass in both upland and lowland areas of Wales. The products from sheep have been wool, meat, milk, skins, and tallow for candles. Also, their manure has been used as fertilizer on the land. 

The first sheep brought to Wales were probably small, brown Soay sheep. They came with Neolithic farmers around 6 thousand years ago. The Romans brought with them superior, white-faced sheep whose wool was finer. The sheep were bred only for their wool, for which Roman farmers had a high reputation. These crossed with the Soay sheep, becoming the tan-faced ancestors of the hardy Welsh Mountain sheep, which have inhabited the highlands of Wales for over two thousand years.

By the Middle Ages sheep were most likely kept for their wool and milk rather than meat. Wool dominated until the Industrial Revolution, when the population started growing. This led to an increased demand for meat from the eighteenth century onwards.

Meat became the principal product from sheep and lambs, worth far more than wool in the twentieth century. Today producing fat lambs is the main income for many Welsh upland and hill farms. Exports of Welsh Lamb products were worth £154.7 million in 2013. France is the biggest overseas customer, followed by Germany. There were 9.74 million sheep and lambs in Wales in 2014.

Dafydd Jacob, shepherd from Ystradgynlais

A shepherd on horseback

Farmer on a quad bike

Brinley Edmunds – Barry’s Boy Soldier

Elen Phillips, 26 February 2015

On this day in 1917, Brinley Rhys Edmunds, an 18 year old groom from Barry, joined the army – one teenager among the 272,924 Welshmen who served during the First World War.

At the time, Brinley was living with his parents – Evan Edmunds and his Norwegian wife, Christine Sofia – at 7 Dunraven Street, a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Barry Docks. On the 1911 census, his father’s occupation is listed as Railway Engine Driver. From the census, we also learn that he, along with two of his four siblings, was a Welsh speaker.  

Brinley’s Record of Service Paper – the form he completed at a Cardiff recruiting office on 26 February 1917 – shows that he was initially assigned to the 59th Training Reserve Battalion. As you can see, the recruiting officer mistakenly noted his name as Brindley, rather than Brinley – an error replicated in all subsequent military records. The Service Paper reveals an intriguing twist to Brinley’s story. It appears that he had enlisted once before, with the 18th Battalion The Welsh Regiment, but was discharged for being underage:

Have you ever served in any branch of His Majesty’s Forces, naval or military? If so, which?

Yes 18 Welch Discharged under age 16-11-15

By my calculations, Brinley was born in November 1898, therefore he would have been 17 years old, or thereabouts, when he was discharged from the 18th Battalion. He probably joined-up at the age of 16, but I have been unable to trace any online documents relating to his time as an underage teenage tommy.

Frustrations aside, we’re fortunate to have several objects in the collection which were donated to the Museum by Brinley’s family in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They are among the most powerful and poignant of all the First World War collections in our care. Although undated, the postcard shown here was almost certainly written by Brinley when he served with The Welsh Regiment. In July 1915, the 18th Battalion moved to Prees Heath training camp in Shropshire. This novelty postcard, addressed to Brinley’s parents, includes a set of pull-out images of the camp.

In addition to the postcard, we also have a beautiful pincushion made by Brinley as a gift for his mother. The centre features the insignia of The Welsh Regiment and the motto Gwell Angau na Chywilydd (Better Death than Dishonour). We don’t know where or why Brinley made this pincushion, but it’s possible that he was given the material and beads in kit format to alleviate boredom or to focus his mind.

We recently showed the pincushion and postcard to children whose parents are serving in the Armed Forces today. Both objects will be displayed in the redeveloped galleries here at St Fagans, alongside contemporary responses generated through partnership work with the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme. When asked to consider why Brinley may have made this pincushion for his mother, one young girl suggested it was his way of saying ‘I’m alive, don’t worry.’

Brinley Rhys Edmunds died on 5 September 1918 while serving with the Durham Light Infantry, a matter of weeks before the armistice and his twentieth birthday. He is buried at the Berlin South-Western Cemetery in Germany. With no grave to visit at home, his family preserved and displayed the pincushion under a glass dome. Like all families who lost a relative in the line of duty, Brinley’s parents received a bronze memorial plaque in recognition of his service, inscribed HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR BRINDLEY RYHS EDMUNDS – the error made by the Cardiff recruiting officer compounded by the misspelling of his middle name, Rhys.

Remember, you can now access the Museum's First World War collections online. We'd love to hear from you if you have further information about Brinley Edmunds, or any other person or family represented in the collections.

Record of Service Paper completed by Brinley Rhys Edmunds on 26 February 1917 © Crown Copyright Images The National Archives.

Postcard written by Brinley Edmunds at Prees Heath camp, Shropshire.

Pull-out images of Press Heath camp, Shropshire.

Handwritten message on back of postcard. Sent from Brinley Edmunds to his parents.

Pincushion made by Brinley Edmunds for his mother.

Next of kin memorial plaque sent to the parents of Brinley Rhys Edmunds. Inscribed HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR BRINDLEY [sic] RYHS [sic] EDMUNDS.