22 April 2015,
Our 13th century Royal hall is moving forward at quite a pace. At the minute work focusses on the window reveals of the smaller of the two structures, currently known as ‘Building B’. This building could have been the Royal bed chamber (for other contemporary examples feature a chamber and hall within close proximity to each other), but equally it could have been the kitchen, (which would also have been in close proximity to the hall, for who would want to feast on cold food?).
The window reveals are typically Romanesque in style. They are very narrow on the outside, but widen considerably on the inside, in order to maximise the light coming through. The reason for their narrowness is two-fold: small windows are more easily defended and hence were a common feature of more fortified structures such as castles; secondly, as glass for glazing was not always available their size was kept to a minimum in order to reduce the amount of cold air coming in. They will be capped by a level stone lintel, but likewise they could have been capped with an arch – as both methods were common at this time. Wooden shutters will be installed and closed at night, so that visiting schoolchildren will be warm when sleeping over.
Off-site work has begun on saw-milling oak boughs into timber for the roof trusses. Getting a long square-edged timber out of a log takes some considerable skill. The large band-saw can only cut straight lines, therefore the log has to be positioned correctly before every pass. It has to be adjusted up and down, as well as from side to side, because one cut at the wrong angle would negatively impact the following cuts, and render the timber unusable.
22 April 2015,
Our time at Yanayacu has drawn to a close. The final days fieldwork saw us collecting in the Malaise traps we had previously set and making several forays to a particularly good stream site where we had hoped to find more species of Hemerodromia. Hemerodromia is the focus of Josenir’s PhD work at INPA and we have been searching hard for specimens to help her studies.
Alas, many hours of wading up streambeds, sloshing through mud and slithering over mossy spring sources has yielded but a handful. These will be valuable for her studies but we can’t help but feel a bit disappointed by the results on this aspect of our expedition. We have speculated long and hard as to why Hemerodromia has been so hard to find. Perhaps these aquatic insects have been washed out of their streams by the unusually strong rains we are experiencing? It seems that a particularly strong El Nino event has commenced bringing late rains throughout Ecuador.
During the evenings we have been running an ultraviolet light to attract nocturnal insects to the Biological Station. A couple of nights ago we were absolutely inundated by insects with vast numbers of hawk moths, tiger moths, giant Hercules beetles and enormous stoneflies (Plecoptera) known as Dobson Flies in the US, coming to the light. It’s odd but the best nights for attracting insects are not warm balmy ones but those with torrential rain and enveloping cloud. And such were the conditions on this particular occasion.
To read more about Adrian's expedition - read his past blog posts.
21 April 2015,
For much of March and April (and some of may) we have been lucky enough (with support from Arts Council of Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund) to have four artists in residence in St Fagans. The artists we appointed are Melissa Appleton, James Parkinson, Claire Prosser and Bedwyr Williams.
As the residencies are quite short we were interested more in the artists' process rather than the finished product, and therefore weren't expecting the aritsts to come up wiht an exhibition or any finished pieces of work at the end of it. The artists have all been up to lots of different things - researching, working with staff, looking through the sound and film archive, filming and 3d scanning the site. There's also been lots of meetings and discussions with staff, and generally getting involved with day to day life in the museum.
Claire Prosser has been keeping a blog about her work, which you can read right here and I'll keep you up to date about what everyone else has been up to in my next blog.
20 April 2015,
Erbyn Ebrill 1915, roedd sgil effeithiau’r Rhyfel Mawr i’w gweld a’u teimlo ar lawr gwlad Meirionnydd. Nepell o gartref Kate a’i theulu, fe agorwyd gwersyll i garcharorion rhyfel ar gyn safle distylldy whisgi yn Frongoch – rhyw ddwy filltir o’r Bala.
Yn y cof cenedlaethol, rydym yn dueddol o gysylltu Frongoch â’r Gwyddelod. Yma y carcharwyd arweinwyr blaenllaw Gwrthryfel y Pasg ym 1916. Ond yn wreiddiol, carchar i Almaenwyr oedd Frongoch. Bu’r awdurdodau wrthi am wythnosau yn gweddnewid yr hen ddistylldy ar eu cyfer.
Y Germans – Prysurdeb di-ail a welir yn hen waith whisgi Fron Goch, yn darparu lle i giwaid y fath sydd i ddyfod yma mewn rhyw fis eto. Wrth syllu oddeutu’r adeilad, a gweled rhwyd-waith o wifrau sydd yn ei amgylchu, gallai dyn feddwl mai haid o greaduriaid gwylltion a mileinig ydynt, ac yn ol a welaf, bydd yn haws i lygoden fynd o gêg cath nag i’r un o honynt ddiengyd. Diolch am hyny; y maent yn ddigon agos atom lle y maent, heb son am gartrefu yn ein hymyl fel hyn. Llan, 1 Ionawr 1915
Yn naturiol, roedd y wasg leol yn llawn erthyglau am ddyfodiad yr Almaenwyr i Frongoch. Wedi’r cyfan, hwn oedd un o’r gwersylloedd cyntaf o’i fath ym Mhrydain yn y cyfnod dan sylw. Gallwn ond ddychmygu chwilfrydedd a gofid y boblogaeth leol pan gyrhaeddodd yr Amlaenwyr cyntaf ar 25 Mawrth 1915.
Bydd dydd Iau diweddaf yn ddiwrnod i’w hir gofio yn ardaloedd y Bala, a bydd yr argraffiadau a wnaed ar feddyliau y cannoedd plant ac ereill yn rhwym o aros ar eu cof tra byddant byw, oblegid yr oedd amgylchiad yn un mor eithriadol, sef dyfodiad yn agos i bedwar cant o garcharorion rhyfel i wersyllfa Frongoch, yr hwn sydd o fewn dwy filltir a hanner i’r Bala… Deallwn fod llawer o’r carcharorion uchod wedi eu dal ar ol y frwydr fawr yn Neuve Chapelle. Cymro (Lerpwl a’r Wyddgrug) 7 Ebrill 1915
Er nad oedd Kate yn un i gofnodi cerrig milltir y rhyfel, mae cyfeiriad byr at yr Almaenwyr yn cyrraedd Frongoch yn ei dyddiadur (hynny a hanes coler ceffyl a'i chwpwrdd newydd!)
19 Ebrill – Dros 500 o garcharorion Germanaidd yn dod i Frongoch. Myfi yn mynd ir Post a mynd a choler ceffyl Berwyn House adref. Fewythr Hugh yn dod yma i weld y cwpwrdd.
Dyma un o'r ychydig gyfeiriadau uniongyrchol at y rhyfel yn y dyddiadur.
15 April 2015,
Back in February, I blogged about Brinley Rhys Edmunds – a teenager from Barry who was killed in action during the First World War. If you recall, he signed-up when he was under the legal recruitment age, re-enlisted soon after his 18th birthday, but lost his life in battle on 5 September 1918.
In recent weeks – thanks to a well-known genealogy website – I have been corresponding with two of Brinley’s descendants in the United States – one in Seattle, the other in Pennsylvania. As a curator, it’s always a thrill to reunite families with objects once owned by their ancestors. Better still if they in turn provide additional information for our records.
I was so pleased to receive from Brinley’s American relatives a scanned copy of this beautiful photograph of the Edmunds family in about 1905. The photograph shows six year old Brinley (seated) with his elder brother, William, in matching sailor suits, together with their parents, Evan and Christine. I’ve been researching Brinley and his family on-and-off for a number of years. It’s amazing to finally put faces to their names.
Here at St Fagans, we have several objects in the collection associated with Brinley’s wartime experiences, some of which will be on display in our redeveloped galleries in 2017. In addition to the pincushion, next of kin plaque and postcard I mentioned last time, we also have his campaign medals in the collection. The British War Medal and Victory Medal were awarded to him posthumously and sent in an envelope marked ‘On His Majesty’s Service’ to his father in about 1919-20.
He is wearing the medals in the portrait shown here which is currently being prepared for photography by Ruth James, Social History Conservator. The portrait was commissioned by Brinley’s parents after his death and was bequeathed to the Museum in 1989 by Eunice Edmunds, his younger sister. We will be using this image, along with the newly-discovered family photograph in America, in the new displays. Contemporary military voices and experiences will also be included in the gallery interpretation. I’ll be focussing on our exciting co-curation programme with the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme in the next instalment of this blog.