Llanmaes the spiritual centre
Albany Primary school visited Llanmaes in July and brought with them an uplifting and colourful response to the findings at the archaeological dig. The children explored the possibility of the spiritual significance of what may have been taking place thousands of years ago at this sacred site. Our archaeologists found evidence of what seems to be ceremonial activity at the site in Llanmaes. There also seems to be evidence of artefacts left by visitors from far away lands. Could Llanmaes have been a spiritual centre thousands of years ago? The children of Albany Primary school certainly thought so.
Thanks to the kindness of the local church the pupils of Albany Primary school were able to design and then take part in a non-denominational spiritual ceremony at the local church in Llanmaes.
They wrote affirmations of thanks and praise in recognition of the wonder of life. The children felt that this may have been the type of things that were being celebrated thousands of years ago in Llanmaes. Prayers and affirmations of thanks and praise were left at the altar as can be seen in the film.
Ysgol Pwll Coch Spooky Cauldron Music and Dance!
Ysgol Pwll Coch visited the National Museum in Cathays last spring. The pupils looked at the new Origins gallery and in particular the Bronze Age and Iron Age displays. The cauldron was the centre piece and they created music and poetry in response to ideas about cauldron festivals.
This was followed up by a visit to Llanmaes and the archaeological dig where cauldron festivals may have taken place thousands of years ago. The same pupils used drama, dance and music to create their very own cauldron ceremony. The teachers and pupils were thrilled with the exciting learning opportunities this project presented to them. They also had lots and lots of fun doing it as you can tell from their two films and the Spooky Cauldron music they composed!
The first film shows their spooky cauldron dancing to their spooky cauldron music. In the second film they composed a march of the mochyn (pig). This was in response to the fact that the archaeologists had found lots of pig bones on the site at Llanmaes. Who knows perhaps the march of the mochyn was also being performed thousands of years ago!
Two local schools make music in honour of their ancestors!
The archaeological dig at Llanmaes was visited by two local schools from Llantwit Major. Pupils from both schools went in search of evidence of perhaps their ancestors from the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
Llanilltud Fawr primary school composed music inspired by the idea that feasting festivals may have once taken place on the site. The unusually large size of the midden found on site seems to indicate that feasting and partying may have take place in Llanmaes during the Bronze Age and Iron Age. The children used this idea to inspire them to compose their own special feasting music. The pupils decided that the feats may have been full of ceremony and magic and so their magical music reflects these ideas.
Sant Illtud Primary school composed their music inspired by the idea that acts of worship and celebration may have taken place in Llanmaes during the Bronze Age and Iron Age. Objects found in the midden may hint at some kind of ritualistic placing of them perhaps part of some sacred ceremony. The children certainly thought that this may have been why such a large midden had been unearthed containing so man valuable objects. Therefore their music is celebratory, spiritual, uplifting, and full of awe and wonder!
Machen Primary school tearing it up at Llanmaes!
Machen Primary school also visited the National museum in spring last year and followed up this visit with a trip to the archaeological dig at Llanmaes. The children focussed on the importance of cauldrons in the Bronze and Iron Ages. They learnt about the possible ceremony that may have taken place at Llanmaes involving the ceremonial tearing of cauldrons. This inspired them to re-create their own cauldron tearing ceremony. Poetry, music and the actions/movements of the ceremony itself were designed by the children. Then a sacred cauldron tearing ceremony took place on the very same spot where it may have taken place thousands of years ago. One word kept being spoken by the children to describe their experiences: "Awesome!".
Piecing Together the Past
In 2002, during building work at the Cathedral School, Llandaff, archaeologist Dr Tim Young discovered thousands of pieces of 14th century pottery in a deep ditch near the Bishop's Castle www.geoarch.co.uk/llandaff/index.html. The pottery is what's known as "wasters", pots that for various reasons have failed to make the grade and been thrown away after emerging from the kiln, which would have been nearby.
The result is one of the biggest medieval jigsaws in Wales, fragments of green-glazed jugs, earthenware cooking pots and ridge tiles with crests like coxcombs, all mixed up and waiting to be sorted so that they can tell their tale. And sort them we did, for two days during NAtional Archaeology Week, on big tables in the main hall at National Museum, Cardiff: boxes of pottery, rows of foam-lined red plastic trays, staff from the Department of Archaeology & Numismatics and a constant stream of willing volunteers of all ages, patiently sorting the sherds; first separating the glazed and unglazed pieces, then hunting through the trays to find the bits of decoration, the fragments of rims and bases and handles which might just join together and allow us to learn something more about this extraordinary collection of pottery. Looking for pieces that fitted together was the best bit, a reward after some serious sorting!
The workforce was wonderfully varied - students from the School of Modern Teaching in Kostalin, Poland, a British family from Sweden, another family from Ireland, a very young Norwegian boy who sorted a whole tray with the most astonishing concentration, local people pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to a local project, foreign visitors pleased to be handling a bit of Welsh history, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren and even the occasional passing member of staff (no-one can resist a puzzle!).
Some of the jug bases have an edging made with a thumb or finger, and sisters Vi Watts and Joan Coslett thought that it looked just like a pie-crust; they tried their thumbs for size (a perfect fit!), and liked the thought that theirs were the first thumbs that had rested there since the thumb of a potter in the 1300s.
Three school students on work experience deserve special mention - Charlie John from Cathays High, Sian Davies from Llanishen High and Emily Durbin from Stanwell. They were a great help, many thanks to you all!
And at the end of two days, was there a proud row of complete pots, testament to all this hard work? Sadly, no. What would be a perfectly feasible task with the fragments of two or three pots mixed together becomes a very different prospect with the fragments of two or three hundred, all very similar. Although some joins were found, there will need to be further meticulous work behind the scenes before jugs, cooking pots and tiles rise again . If you can't wait for that, you can see two complete Vale Ware jugs in the Medieval section of the Origins Gallery!
But at the end of two days, six huge boxes, all full to the top with neatly labelled bags - a fantastic effort. Many thanks to everyone who helped!