If you've been watching lambcam you'll have seen that sometimes our sheep get a little bit of help to give birth from our farm team. So for those of you who might be wondering what's actually going on in there...
As the ewe goes in to labour, her contractions push the lamb towards the outside world. The position of the lamb is known as ‘presentation’. It affects whether the ewe will be able to manage the birth on her own or might need some help from the shepherd.
Ideal: Head and forelegs first. The most streamlined position – usually no help needed.
One leg back aka ‘Superman’: May need help to push the lamb back and straighten the leg.
Two legs back: Needs help to push the head back and bring the legs forward.
Head Back: Needs help to push the lamb back and bring the head forward.
Backwards: Although the ewe can deliver the lamb herself, there is a risk of the umbilical cord breaking before the head is out. This may result in the lamb drowning before birth.
Breech (bottom first): Help will always be needed to sort this one out.
Multiple mix ups: Twins, triplets and even quads can be no problem to deliver if they come one at a time. But sometimes things get tangled up in there and help is needed!
Thanks to Wynfford the Training Lamb and Flat Eric for their modelling work
Guest blog by St Fagans Youth Forum members - Amy Gifford, Kate Gregory & Beth Ivey-Williams - live from Bryn Eryr!
Hello everyone. We’re the St Fagans Youth Forum and today (12 March) we’re helping to build an Iron Age bread oven at Bryn Eryr. Ian, the Museum’s Interpreter, has been busy researching traditional building methods and the history of bread ovens through time. In this blog, we’ll take you through part one of the process. So if you fancy building your own pizza oven for your garden at home, follow our guide below.
Use wooden stakes to mix local ‘clom’ (clay), water and sand to a thick dough. Patience and perseverance essential! Some would say it’s quite therapeutic; a weird kind of stress buster!
Tip from Amy: “Go with your gut instinct. You’ll know when the dough is at the right consistency.”
Mix dry sand with water. Use the mixture to build a dome (former) in the centre of the oven base. Ian pre-made the base out of clay and a flat stone. When building the dome, even out the sides for a rounded finish. Don’t use too much water.
Tip from Beth: “You’ll have to get your hands dirty, but it’s just like building a sand castle.”
Build-up your dome to a rounded arch.
Tip from Kate: “Keep warm as you work. Your hands will get very cold as you sculpt the wet material.”
Smooth off all the sand and cover your dome with strips of damp newspaper. This is a bit like papier mâché.
Cover the dome with the clay mixture you prepared earlier in step 1. Let it set for two days.
Women's History Month is deeply rooted in the suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To highlight the need for equality, it was vital to show the contributions that women had made throughout history and continued to make in current times. In celebration of Women's History Month, and in conjunction with Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology, we take a look at some of the women who helped shape the discipline of archaeology.
Gertrude Bell was born in County Durham in 1868. She was educated at home and went on the attend Oxford University where she earned a degree in history. During a trip to Iran, she fell in love with the history and culture of the Middle East. Becoming fluent in Arabic and Persian, she travelled extensively throughout the region, many times to places few Europeans had ever been. During her trips, she would also carry out archaeological surveys of ruins and published several books. Because of her unparalleled knowledge of the Middle East, when the First World War began she took a job with British Intelligence in the Arab Bureau in Cairo. While there she worked with fellow adventurer and archaeologist T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). In the post war years Bell became deeply involved in the formation of Iraq and Jordan as independent nations. She had a close relationship with King Faisal of Iraq and Syria and in 1922 the new government appointed her Director of Antiquities. In this role, Bell became a passionate supporter of artefacts remaining in their original countries, not in European collections, and to combat this she wrote the Laws of Excavation, which gave protection to archaeological sites in Iraq, and established the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Recently a movie, Queen of the Desert, was made of Bell’s life starring Nicole Kidman.
Tessa (Verney) Wheeler was born in Johannesburg in 1893. The family relocated to England and Tessa read history at University College London. While there she met her future husband, Mortimer Wheeler, who would become a preeminent archaeologist. After graduating, Tessa move to Cardiff where her husband had taken up the position of Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales. During their time there, Tessa and Mortimer carried out extensive excavations at Roman sites such as Segontium (Caernarfon) and Y Gaer (Brecon). Just as they were preparing to begin excavating at Caerleon, Mortimer was appointed Keeper at the London Museum. Instead of abandoning the project, Tessa took over the excavation. Early in her career she was often overshadowed by her husband but in later life she was recognised for her fieldwork and the contributions she made to the ‘Wheeler team’.
Turkish archaeologist Halet Çambel was a woman of many talents. Born in Berlin in 1916, she had taken up fencing as a child and became the first Muslim woman to compete in the Olympics as part of the 1936 Turkish fencing team. She famously declined an invitation to meet Adolph Hitler. She then attended the Sorbonne in Paris where she read archaeology and the languages of Hittite, Assyrian and Hebrew. She spent most of her career excavating in Turkey and spent over 50 years working at Karatepe, a Hittite stronghold. She created the department of Prehistoric Archaeology at Istanbul University and in 2004 was awarded the Prince Claus Award, which is presented to those “whose cultural actions have a positive impact on the development of their societies.”
A person doesn’t have to be a trained expert to have an impact on archaeology. Take for example, Edith Pretty. Born in 1883, Edith’s family saw the value in education, especially education via travel. Throughout her many travels, she was able to see archaeological excavations in progress. Her father also had an interest in archaeology and was given permission to excavate a Cistercian Abbey near their home in Cheshire. Having inherited money, she bought land in Suffolk and moved there with her husband. The property held several burial mounds which did not appear to have been excavated. Edith and her husband often wondered what may lie beneath the mounds but Edith wanted any excavations to be done using the most up to date scientific methods. In 1937, she contacted the Ipswich Museum and requested the mounds be excavated. Two years later, the largest of the mounds produced one of the most important archaeological finds, the Sutton Hoo burial. She gifted the finds to the British Museum where they are on display.
These are but a few of the women who have contributed to archaeology. For more information, please visit http://trowelblazers.com/
A number of months ago, I told you that we are currently busy preparing objects for our new galleries. The most recent one to land on our work table is a Memorial sampler. It has an embroidered inscription, carried out in cross-stitch using silk thread, which reads: ‘In loving memory of / Elizabeth Morgan, / formerly of Llanishan / who died Dec 6th 1885 / Aged 30 years / and was interred at / Glyn-Taff Cemetery / A Ray of light from God’s own light - / She beamed and made of life the best / She touched the earth and made it bright / She blest us all and went to rest.’
The sampler was donated by the great-grand daughter of Elizabeth Morgan, T. A. Bennett, from Pen-y-Graig, Rhondda.
The interesting thing about this sampler is that the ground is not textile but is made from card punched through with a gridwork of holes, through which the embroidery is worked. As it is made from both textile and paper elements this has given us an opportunity to tackle its conservation as a cross-disciplinary project; drawing on our respective expertise in both textile and paper conservation.
Looking at the object in its frame, the senior conservator archives and I could already see that the sampler had been badly mounted in the past, having been adhered directly to a rigid card backing. This has been partly responsible for causing splits in the card ground as the unevenly applied adhesive restricted its natural expansion and contraction through changes in environmental humidity levels. Our challenge here will be to devise a method of removing the embroidery from this unsuccessful backing and to come up with a new method of stabilising and mounting it, so that it can be displayed safely. As we get stuck into the project, we shall give you updates on how the work is progressing.
Guest Blog by Holly Morgan Davies, National Museum Cardiff Youth Forum, 8March2016
While I enjoy going to the Youth Forum very much, I have to say a once-in-a-lifetime experience was not what I was expecting when I turned up last week. But there we were, in the art conservation room, a few feet away from an original Van Gogh, out of its frame on the next table, having just come back from being loaned to an American museum. I could have actually touched it (and I was quite tempted, though of course I didn’t).
Now, I’m not exactly an art aficionado, as you can properly tell by the way I haven’t included the name of the painting because I don’t know it, but I have to say it was pretty amazing.
This is a battle where hundreds of men from the Welsh Division were killed in July 1916, and thousands more were injured, something that the painting certainly doesn’t shy away from. It’s big, bloody, and quite brutal. While war sketches of poppies blooming among the trenches and beleaguered soldiers limping through mud evoke the tragedy of the slaughter that took place, they arguably don’t capture the fighting itself, but the aftermath, the few moments of calm in a four-year storm.
Williams’ painting does the opposite. The desperate struggle of the hand-to-hand slaughter was immediately obvious. It felt almost claustrophobic, the way the soldiers were almost piling on top of each other, climbing over their fallen comrades to try and take out the machine gunner. It was certainly a world away, as we discussed, from the posters bearing Lord Kitchener encouraging young men to enlist. We also talked about the way the painting is quite beautifully composed, almost in a Renaissance style.
It was hard to look at, but at the same time it was something you wanted to look at.
After this, we went to the archives to look at some sketches made by Williams and other artists while at the trenches. I was about to get goosebumps fro the second time that evening - one of them still had mud from the trenches staining the edges!
In any other context, 100 year old mud probably wouldn’t have been very exciting, but this mud is so strongly linked in people’s minds with images of the First World War.
Think of the trenches, and you think of mud. People slept, ate and died surrounded by this mud; it seems to be inextricably bound up with the nightmare of having to live and fight in that environment, and made looking at the sketches even more powerful.
Another document we looked at was a sort of manual given to recruits of the Royal Welsh Division, containing poems, stories and pictures that the soldiers would have submitted themselves. It was touching to see one of the ways they would have injected moments of humour into their lives as soldiers, and also their own perspectives on their experiences. All in all, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this exhibition comes together, and learning more about Mametz, a part of the war and hadn’t even heard of until a couple of weeks ago.