You are here:  > 

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Archaeology

August 2011

Block Blog: Primary Investigations

Posted by Julia Tubman on 9 August 2011

[image: ]

Annotated photograph of the first area of the block to be excavated in the archaeological conservation laboratory.

[image: ]

Flat iron plate with rivets.

[image: ]

Detail of cracked iron plate, typical of the lorica segmentata remains block-lifted last September.

[image: ]

Corroded copper sheet apparently wrapped around iron, here seen in broken fragments in-situ.

» View full post to see all images

At this juncture in the investigation of this block-lift, I am making every effort to outline the relationships (if any) between artefacts. As can be see in the first photograph, plenty of small pieces of iron plate, often with no telling association with larger plates, emerge as soil is scraped away. Aside from photographing their position for future reference, and examining them for signs of the remains of fittings, impressions of textile or leather, there is not much that can be done with these anonymous fragments. Moreover, these fragments often overlie more interesting and coherent features, and so I am generally removing these: I will most likely x-ray these in large batches at a later date. As you can tell by the annotations, I’ve begun to get a good idea of the fragile nature of the fragmentary, corroded copper and iron artefacts mixed in the burial deposit, and have begun to grasp how difficult lifting the larger pieces of lorica will be.

So far I have had limited success at recovering any ‘true edges’ of the iron armour, as most of the vulnerable thin plate has been broken. Finding edges greatly improves our chances of identifying plates, and where two edges have been found, dimensions such as the width of the plate can give us an idea of which part of the lorica cuirass the plate comes from. It also helps us to make educated comparisons with examples of Roman armour found from other sites. For instance, the iron plate recovered in the second photograph has a width of 6.5 cm across, dimensions similar to those recorded for the armour fragments found amongst the Corbridge Hoard, and from the Austrian site, Carnuntum. It also has the very corroded remains of two copper alloy rivets, which improves our understanding of how the cuirass was constructed and held together.

As I work I am keeping the surface of the soil block wet, by spraying it with deionised water. This prevents the soil from drying out too much, separating, and breaking the iron remains as it falls into chunks. As most of the iron is in such a poor condition, consolidation with a removable acrylic adhesive, such as Paraloid B72 (ethyl methacrylate copolymer) is a must (which is why in some photographs the iron surface appears to have a dark sheen to it).  

Whilst excavating an area of the block to the left of the photograph, I came across an exciting, (and sadly, very degraded) find: copper alloy wrapped around a thin iron plate. It can be seen in-situ in the photograph to the right, and after excavation in the photograph below. Sadly, as not much of the object has been recovered, a firm identification of this piece hasn’t been reached yet, though further excavation might yield more clues.

Readers may have noticed that I have begun to clean the outside of what is most likely a girth hoop. The exposed iron plate is 1mm in thickness, and the hoop is broken in several places, that I can see from the surface. When focusing on this feature, I will have to be careful to remove enough soil and other burial debris to reveal the curved plate’s shape, whilst maintaining the earthy support until I am ready to remove the that section of armour from the soil block. The next blog entry will focus on describing the results of excavations in this area, which includes a copper-alloy tie loop, still associated with the iron plate.

 

June 2011

Discovered in Time, at Hay

Posted by Mari Gordon on 9 June 2011

Finally, only a year or so later, we launch fab new archaeology book Discovered in Time. We had a lovely event on the Hay Festival programme - pretty small in scale, but all the more enjoyable for it.

I knew the author, Mark Redknap, was a bit nervous and I felt suitably guilty. But I also knew he'd be great. He's articulate, knowledgeable, engaging and can throw in a soupcon of humour - ideal speaker material.

We'd pitched the event as a discussion on issues like who are we (museums) to decide what's 'treasure', or are we the natural authors of the national 'story', or de we hand over the 'voice' to communities (yes we do), and how do we relate to amateur archaeologists - all stuff I think is fascinating. Mark talked about those issues and illustrated them with some gems of stories related to various objects featured in the book. However the audience were also clearly drawn by the archaeology, and wanted some good old-fashioned archaeologists 'in the field' stories.

BBC journalist Sian Lloyd was our host for the event and she brought a fresh face and a sound journalistic approach, keeping the whole event expertly on track. The Q&A at the end included questions ranging from 'what was your Howard Carter moment?', which Mark gently explained can happen many times either with discovering a new find or with a new discovery about an old find, as we keep studying the collections and applying new technology, to the role of science in archaeology - see point about new technology. (And, is archaeology itself a science? Hmmm...).

I was really pleased that the audience comprised a healthy mixture of men and women, and all ages. What they had in common was that enduring fascination, which perhaps we all have, with the light objects that survive from antiquity can shed on our shared human past. And that, I hope, is just what our new book conveys.

Discovered in Time is available now. Available in Welsh, Darganfod y Gymru Gynnar. Both just £14.99. Order online.

Taking Stock of the Block

Posted by Julia Tubman on 1 June 2011

[image: ]

Cracks extending through the large block lift of Roman armour from Caerleon

[image: ]

Cyclododecane (the white, waxy substance in this photograph) holding fragile areas of armour togehter

[image: ]

Copper alloy scale armour- notice how the different pieces overlap and are linked together using copper wire through pierced holes

[image: Copper alloy stud, seen in-situ on surface of block. The white flakes are bits of plaster left from the lifting process]

Copper alloy stud, seen in-situ on surface of block. The white flakes are bits of plaster left from the lifting process

» View full post to see all images

After documentation, the next step was to take stock of the overall condition of the block, and to make a preliminary inventory of the types of archaeological materials I could see.

 

As can be seen in the birds-eye-view photograph, there are some large cracks running across the block: these most likely occurred during lifting and transportation from the site to the museum. Unfortunately, these extend through some of the exposed armour, and areas of thin, mineralized iron plate have broken. This kind of damage, whilst regrettable, couldn’t have been avoided.

 

I wanted to keep the broken pieces in place for as long as possible, as the positioning of the remains is important to our interpretation of the events taking place in these two rooms of the warehouse. In order to ensure that fragments stayed together (at least for the interim) I used a wax-like substance called Cyclododecane, which I melted and brushed onto the artefacts. The Cyclododecane will eventually sublime altogether, and so I will not have to remove it later.

 

In addition to the iron plates, there are also a range of other interesting artefacts visible on the surface of the block. There appears to be a scattering of copper alloy scale armour (see photograph for an example), which would also have been worn by a soldier.

 

At the edge of the block is a large copper alloy stud, its use in antiquity currently unknown: it is not an artefact which has been associated with lorica segmentata. As the photograph shows, the copper has corroded considerably and is very thin.

 

Scattered amongst these exciting finds are the usual types of artefacts found during archaeological excavations: pieces of red ceramic tile, fragments of pottery, bits of animal bone, and crumbly lumps of white plaster (from the building itself).

 

Excavating the block will be both time consuming and challenging: I have selected a number of small tools to use. I am unable to place a microscope over the block, and so will be using an optimizer (a visor with magnification lenses) instead- I do not want to miss any small artefacts or details during the excavation.

May 2011

Conservation of Roman Armour- Opening the Block

Posted by Julia Tubman on 10 May 2011

[image: ]

The block in the conservation lab. The white and black pole lying across the block is a metre in length- just to remind you how large the block really is!

[image: The Clingfilm layer which had been protected the iron underneath from the Plaster of Paris bandages. The sides of the block had been carefully re-bandaged to ensure that the soil block held together. ]

The Clingfilm layer which had been protected the iron underneath from the Plaster of Paris bandages. The sides of the block had been carefully re-bandaged to ensure that the soil block held together.

[image: The block revealed! As the block is so large, in order to take a 'bird's-eye-view' photograph from above, climbing to the top of a step-ladder was required. ]

The block revealed! As the block is so large, in order to take a 'bird's-eye-view' photograph from above, climbing to the top of a step-ladder was required.

[image: String was used to section the block and make drawing easier. ]

String was used to section the block and make drawing easier.

After wheeling the large block into the archaeological conservation laboratory, I began the task of removing the plaster bandages covering the top of the block.


This proved a simple and satisfying job- the bandages were easily torn off in layers, revealing the Clingfilm barrier underneath. In order to reinforce the sides of the block, yet more bandages were wetted and wrapped around it.


The next step in opening up the block was to peel back the Clingfilm. This had to be done very carefully, as I didn't want dust from the plaster covering the archaeological artefacts beneath. Pegs and bulldog clips were very useful in holding back the plastic layers neatly.


After much anticipation, the armour was revealed. As I had not been present during removal of the armour from the fort, this was the first time I was able to see the lorica, and I was very impressed by the corroded remains.

 

As I excavate the armour contained within this soil block, I have to document every individual feature, and the physical relationships between all the artefacts. This provides invaluable information for the archaeologists working on the project, who want to tell the story of Isca.

 

This documentation process involves taking many photographs and making copious notes day by day; before I even begin to excavate the block using small hand tools, I  drew a plan of the whole block, at a 1:2 scale. It was easiest to do this by laying string across the top of the block, and drawing it in sections.

 

After all this preparation, I cannot wait to get started excavating the soil overlying the armour and other artefacts- though this will take a very long time.

March 2011

Conservation of Roman Armour

Posted by John Rowlands on 24 March 2011

[image: Location of Isca]

Location of Isca

[image: Room containing Roman armour in-situ, in bottom right quarter (photograph courtesy of Dr. Peter Guest). ]

Room containing Roman armour in-situ, in bottom right quarter (photograph courtesy of Dr. Peter Guest).

[image: Excavated curved armour (photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).]

Excavated curved armour (photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).

[image: The largest collection of artefacts wrapped in Clingfilm. Tissue paper has been used to protect some of the most fragile pieces (Photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).]

The largest collection of artefacts wrapped in Clingfilm. Tissue paper has been used to protect some of the most fragile pieces (Photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).

» View full post to see all images

Archaeologists from University College London and Cardiff University have been excavating remains of Isca, the Second Augustan Legion’s permanent fortress, since 2007. The area excavated has centrered on a building in Priory Field, located in modern day Caerleon, South Wales.   

 

Excavations in summer 2010 focused on an area of a courtyard building, with evidence to suggest it was a warehouse. A room in this building revealed some very exciting finds: the apparent remains of Roman body armour, ‘lorica segmentata’.

 

Archaeologists spent days carefully exposing these rare finds, which seem to have been thrown haphazardly on the floor of the warehouse.

 

These fragile artefacts were then carefully removed by conservators from the National Museum of Wales. The exposed objects were wrapped in Clingfilm, to prevent them from being contaminated by the materials used to support them.

 

Plaster of Paris bandages, similar to those used in hospitals, were very useful for holding these soil blocks together, and preventing damage to the artefacts whilst in transit.

 

Once the plaster had set, the team undercut the plaster blocks: this was a tense moment, as the archaeologists did not want to cut through any material that they could not see.

 

Supporting the artefacts with robust materials meant that they could be driven back to the National Museum at Cathay’s park safely. There they will be re-opened and carefully micro-excavated in the conservation laboratory.

 

The largest of the blocks removed measures about a metre squared, and had to be carried into the museum by 6 men, given its weight.

 

Progress of the investigation of this block will be recorded here.

December 2010

Face to Face with the Past ... Part Two

Posted by Chris Owen on 10 December 2010

One of the most popular displays at the National Roman Legion Museum is a stone coffin that contains the skeleton of a Roman man. The coffin also contains the remains of grave goods that he would need for their next life, including the base of a shale bowl and fragments of a glass perfume or ointment bottle.

» See Part One

Step 17

[image: Coffin Lid]

Now we turn our attention to the coffin lid.

Like the base it was broken by the digger. Here it is with all the fragments lined up ready to be joined. Some areas are missing, but the gaps will allow people to see inside the coffin when it is put back on display.

Step 18

[image: Top of the lid]

The top of the lid looks so uneven and eroded because acid rain soaked into the soil has dissolved the limestone. This process eventually leads to the formation of limestone caves in nature. Solution holes, the start of mini 'caves', can be seen in the lid.

Step 19

[image: Drilling the lid]

Adhesive alone may not be strong enough to keep the heavy fragments of stone together.

To help strengthen the bond, metal rods will be inserted across the join. Holes have to be drilled into the broken edges of the stone. This is a tense moment as any mistakes could cause further damage.

The stone could split or flake; we just don't know how it will react to the drilling!

Step 20

[image: Drilling the lid]

Thankfully all goes well and the drill makes light work of the task.

That pile of stone dust will also come in useful; we can mix it with the glue to help secure the rods.

Step 21

[image: Dabbing paint]

Another hole now has to be drilled in the edge of the adjoining fragment; this must match up perfectly to allow the rod to fit across the break.

First stage is to dab paint thickly around the freshly drilled hole.

Step 22

[image: Placing fragment]

The fragment is then placed in position and pressure applied.

This has to be done quickly before the paint blobs dry, but also with care as we don't want paint smeared everywhere

Step 23

[image: Imprint]

Success!

The paint has left a good imprint on the other fragment, so we know where to drill the second hole to fit the rod.

Step 24

[image: Cutting metal rods]

The metal rods now have to be cut to the right length, about 7cm.

This was harder than we thought as the stainless steel is very tough. We had to stop several times as the blade kept heating up.

Only 6 more to go!

Step 25

[image: Aligning the pieces]

With the metal rods in place within the join and epoxy glue applied, the two pieces are brought together.

Care is taken to align the edges before the two sections are held in place and the adhesive allowed to set.

Step 26

[image: Stuck together]

All stuck together now.

Hopefully the metal dowels will give the extra strength required, especially as we have to move the lid from the workshop in the basement to the gallery upstairs, where at last it can be reunited with its base.

Unfortunately we have no lift....any ideas!

Step 27

[image: The team]

The only option is good old fashioned man power just like the Romans!

Here some of the team (our modern day Roman slaves) take a well deserved break after bringing one of the coffin lid fragments up the stairs.

Step 28

[image: Laying the skeleton out]

Before the lid is put in place the skeleton has to be laid out again. Being careful to get it right!

Unfortunately one item will be missing for a while and that's the skull. This is needed for analysis as we try and find out more about the man buried in the coffin 1800 years ago.

Step 29

[image: Perspex cover]

Once everything is in place a new Perspex cover can be installed to support the stone fragments of the lid.

The Perspex is only 1cm thick so hopefully it will be robust enough to take the weight of the solid Bath stone blocks.

Step 30

[image: Installing the lid]

Now the tricky task of installing the lid begins.

Thankfully all goes well and the Perspex proves strong enough to take the weight.

At last, 15 years since its discovery, the lid is once more back where it belongs, on top of the coffin.

Although the lid partially obscures the contents of the coffin, new lights will be installed to help illuminate the interior.

Step 31

[image: Skull]

The first phase of the redisplay is now complete, so in the second phase we turn our attention to the Skull.

Follow the blog as we attempt to learn more about the man buried in the coffin.

Where did he grow up and what did he look like?

September 2010

Face to face with the past - the redisplay of a Roman coffin

Posted by Chris Owen on 28 September 2010

[image: Coffin]

One of the most popular displays at the National Roman Legion Museum is a stone coffin that contains the skeleton of a Roman man. The coffin also contains the remains of grave goods that he would need for their next life, including the base of a shale bowl and fragments of a glass perfume or ointment bottle.

The coffin was found in 1995 on the site of a Roman cemetery just outside Caerleon. The cemetery is now part of the Caerleon Campus in the University of Wales, Newport. It has been on display in the National Roman Legion Museum from 2002, however in Summer 2010 we started working to redisplay the coffin in a fashion that is closer to its original form thanks to funding from the Friends of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

Made from a solid block of Bath stone, the coffin dates to about 200AD. Since it is around 1800 years old the coffin wouldn’t be able to support the weight of its original lid which is in 2 large pieces. The sides and base of the coffin are being reinforced and the lid will sit on top of a Perspex cover with enough of a gap so that you can see the skeleton inside.

Further work will be done to find out more about our Roman man, who was about 40 when he died. Thanks to funding from the Roman Research Trust, Isotope analysis will be carried out on his teeth which should tell us where grew up and what sort of food he ate. We will also be trying to reconstruct his face so that we can produce a painted portrait of him using the same materials and techniques used by the Romans.

Follow our progress as work proceeds over the next year.

We aim to complete the redisplay by the end of 2011 when you will be able to come face to face with the past!

Step 1

[image: Coffin]

The coffin, skeleton and grave goods have been on display since 2002.

In that time it has become one of the most popular exhibits in the gallery.

Step 2

[image: Discarded items]

Gaps in the coffin allowed visitors to push things into the display.

These are some of the things we found, not exactly the sort of thing our Roman would like to take to the next life.

Step 3

[image: Work begins]

Work begins. First the skeleton and grave goods have to be removed and stored safely.

While off display the skeleton will undergo further investigation in an attempt to find more about the man buried in the coffin.

Step 4

[image: Painting]

All modern materials added to an object must be reversible. This makes it easier to remove restoration without causing damage to the original artefact.

Here a reversible barrier is being painted onto the coffin. This will separate the original stonework from the material used to fill gaps and level the rim.

Step 5

[image: Painting]

Even the most awkward places have to be reached!

Step 6

[image: Lid of the coffin]

The lid of the coffin must have a level surface to sit on!

Unfortunately much of the original rim of the base has eroded so with the aid of foam, double-sided tape and the glass top of the original display as a guide, we hope to establish a new level for the coffin rim.

Step 7

[image: Layers of foam]

Layers of foam were stuck to the flat glass top. When the highest part of the coffin was reached this line was used as the level for the new rim.

Step 8

[image: Mixing up the fill material]

Now for the fun bit� mixing up the fill material.

This material must work like a putty and set hard when dry. Also be safe to use in the open gallery and similar in colour and texture to the original Bath stone.

We went for a mixture of air-drying clay, sand to reduce shrinkage and give texture. Acrylic paint for colour and extra bonding. This was a bit of a messy job and it took a while to get the mix right!

Step 9

[image: Filling the gaps]

Once the mix was ready the gap between the foam and the edge of the coffin was filled.

Step 10

[image: Filling the gaps]

Being careful not to get excess fill material all over the stone.

Step 11

[image: Filling done]

Looks good, let�s hope the fill dries without to much shrinkage.

The colour of the fill is a bit light, not as golden as the original Bath stone. The Roman quarry for the stone is believed to be south of the ancient City of Bath. The stone is soft and easily carved when wet, but becomes hard on drying.

Step 12

[image: Inspecting the day's work]

Inspecting the days work! Hopefully when the glass and foam is removed the fill will be nice and level.

Step 13

[image: Side of the coffin]

The gaps in the side of the coffin have to be filled to prevent access to the skeleton once it is put back on display.

Step 14

[image: Glass top and foam removed]

The glass top and foam are removed and the new rim revealed. The fill has dried much lighter than expected so will have to be painted to make it less obvious.

Most of the fill will be hidden by the lid which extends over the edge and down the side. This overlapping edge use to rest on a ridge that ran round the top of the coffin base.

Remains of this ridge can still be seen on the right hand-side of the image just below the fill.

Step 15

[image: Coffin]

The coffin was unearthed by a mechanical digger, which broke it into several sections. Most of the pieces were retrieved, but one area was so badly damaged no pieces survived.

Instead of filling the gap to complete the side, we decided to install a viewing window so small visitors to the museum can still get a good view of the skeleton inside.

Step 16

[image: Gallery]

The coffin is extremely heavy and could not be moved out of the gallery safely. Therefore, all conservation work has to take place in the gallery, which has been quite challenging at times.

If you are visiting and see us there, come over and say hello, we are happy to answer any questions about the project.

August 2009

Last day of the festival

Posted by Mari Gordon on 2 August 2009

[image: Mourners]

The mourners gather around the body of the departed.

[image: Procession]

The procession to the funeral site.

[image: Pyre alight]

The departed (replaced with the body of a pig), placed on the funeral pyre.

[image: ]

A range of grave goods accompanied the deceased into the afterlife.

» View full post to see all images

Festival of British Archaeology 2009

So the festival ended. After two weeks of almost continuous events across three of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’s sites. And the best was definitely saved until last.

With fine weather throughout the day The Vicus put on a fantastic show. They performed a Roman funeral ceremony in the centre of St Fagans before a crowd of two to three hundred people. A young lady played the recently departed and two gladiators fought for her.

Then the mourners processed to the funeral pyre, an impressive timber platform around which more rituals were performed, and where the young lady was substituted for a pig.

There followed tense moments for the organizers. It’s easy to schedule a cremation ritual, and building the pyre wasn’t too challenging, but with all the wet weather the day before, would it light? With a hundred and fifty people watching as a fire brand was thrust into the middle of the pyre, a fizzle would not have looked good.

But good fortune smiled and the pyre lit, smoking heavily before the flames spread. The grave goods on the pyre were quickly burnt or broken, with one glass bottle melting in the heat.

It burnt for the rest of the afternoon, until by closing time on the site there was just a bed of ash with the unburnt back of the pig resting on top. By next morning almost all of this had burnt away and we set about recovering the cremated bones and the grave goods for further analysis.

Cremated remains are common finds from the Bronze Age and Roman periods and our work here will go some way to helping interpret these finds when they come up in future. So a great spectacle and a useful source of data.

A big day in the Celtic Village

Posted by Steve Burrow on 1 August 2009

[image: British warrior]

A British warrior dresses for battle in the afternoon display by The Vicus.

[image: British warrior]

And the warrior fully-dressed and on display.

[image: Roman soldier]

A Roman soldier - natural enemy of the British warrior seen above.

[image: Armoury]

A view of the armoury - back at the Celtic Village.

» View full post to see all images

Festival of British Archaeology 2009

This weekend is the grand finale of the Festival events, and it started dreadfully. Torrential rain all night and no let-up until eleven o’clock, but much happened before then.

First thing in the morning The Vicus, anamazing Iron Age / Roman re-enactment group, arrived in force and took over our Celtic Village and the grounds around it. Our wood shelter became an armoury, the roundhouses were taken over for cooking and crafts, and outside the village our old furnace was fired up and used to smelt iron ore.

Things really got under way once the rain had cleared and the ground started to dry. Then it was a continuous stream of visitors for the rest of the day.

For me the highlights were:

- the trimmed down combat display where the Vicus’s British warriors and Roman soldiers showed off their equipment and demonstrated the various merits of a range of spears. It was a trimmed down display because the rain had left things too wet underfoot for full-scale combat. But the forecast is good for the rest of the weekend, so tomorrow’s performance should be the full extravaganza.

- watching the bloom come out of the furnace around 4:30. The Vicus’s blacksmith has yet to pass judgement on the results, but they certainly looked pretty good. And when one considers that things only really got started around midday they seemed almost miraculous.

So tomorrow is the big one. In the Celtic Village we have a repeat of all of the above  (with bronze casting substituted for iron smelting), and the festival will be brought to a show-stopping conclusion with a reenactment of a Roman cremation cemetery. Fingers crossed the weather stays with us.

July 2009

Look above: look within

Posted by Steve Burrow on 30 July 2009

[image: ]

The growing queue beside the big red banner that advertised the event.

[image: ]

Sue demonstrating the total station.

[image: ]

Geoff introducing some visitors to building survey.

[image: ]

A chance to look at some of the Royal Commission's older survey equipment.

Festival of British Archaeology 2009

On Wednesday and Thursday this week (29th and 30th July) Sue Fielding and Geoff Ward from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales demonstrated building recording at St Fagans. Thanks to them, visitors had the chance to record a 500 year old house, Hendre’r Ywydd Uchaf, which once stood near Ruthin in the Vale of Clwyd.

I couldn't get to the event myself,  but Adam Gwilt who helped organise things sent in this report.

 

"Geoff has been getting people to look more carefully at the way the house was built and showing young and old alike how to measure and draw the exposed timbers of a wall partition inside the house.

Sue has been enlisting the help of people, using the ‘total station’ survey equipment. Using a laser beam to record the dimensions and details of one of the rooms, a 3D drawing of the room has grown in front of our eyes on the laptop computer screen. 

On Wednesday, the stream of people was slow but constant, though the torrential rain all day affected the numbers of visitors. After early showers on Thursday, the much improved weather brought people to us in significant numbers, at times queuing to enter the house to see what was going on! 

We used a red flag banner to let visitors know that something was going on in this house in the large museum grounds, while the additional building trail developed for the Festival has helped some children to hunt for evidence relating to the long use of this building.

The event was a great success with Sue commenting: ‘Many children have really enjoyed using our new survey equipment to generate an immediate visual and digital drawing of this historic house. I was really pleased that the Royal Commission was asked to contribute to the Festival events hosted by the national museum.’ "

  • National Museum Cardiff

    [image: 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

    [image: 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

    [image: 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

    [image: 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

    [image: 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

    [image: 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

    [image: 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.