Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales


Y Garreg Fawr from Waunfawr in Gwynedd was built in 1544, and is a fine example of a Snowdonian house. At the time, these homes were some of Wales’s finest and represented the beginnings of the modern home we know today. Prior to this date, the wealthy Welsh lived in timber-framed hall-houses. These were often single-story buildings comprised of three bays in a linear arrangement: a ‘service’ bay of a dairy and larder, a ‘solar’ – which was the bedroom - and in-between was a large hall with a central hearth, and was open to the rafters. Although Y Garreg Fawr has a hall, service end and solar, it represents a radical departure from the previous medieval plan by introducing some key developments. Choosing to build in stone allowed the creation of a pair of effective chimneys - one on each gable. These in turn allowed the creation of a first-floor featuring heated, smoke-free rooms.

Y Garreg Fawr (The Great Rock) was named after the large exposed rock outcrop behind the house. Two other Snowdonian type houses share a similar important-sounding name. Both are called ‘The Great House’ – Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant and Tŷ Mawr Nantlle – names that highlight their physical grandeur as well as the high social standing of their owners. Y Garreg Fawr was is a rare survival of national significance, but by 1976 (432 years later) it was barely recognisable and in a serious state of disrepair. At the time, the only way to ensure its survival was to move it stone by stone, some 165 miles, to St. Fagans National History Museum where it could be rebuilt. 40 years later it is undergoing a programme of restoration. 

A recent inspection of Y Garreg Fawr revealed that the inner surface of its walls had been rendered with cement. This is an out-dated practice that is not in keeping with current methodologies. Work is now underway to remove the cement and re-place it with lime mortar, which should allow the building to breathe better, and allow it to stand for several more centuries. Y Garreg Fawr is now closed for a number of months to allow this work to continue.

One hundred and forty schools across the UK are to be awarded Super Scientist Certificates on behalf of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in recognition for their contribution to the Spring Bulbs - Climate Change Investigation.

Huge Congratulations to all these schools!

A big ‘thank you’ to every one of the 4,907 pupils who helped this year! Thank you for working so hard planting, observing, measuring and recording - you really are Super Scientists! Each one of you will receive a certificate and Super Scientist pencil, these will be sent to your school by mid-May.

Many thanks to the Edina Trust for funding this project.

Super Scientist Winners 2016

Each will receive a class trip of fun-packed nature activities.

Ysgol Pentrefoelas - Wales

Biggar Primary - Scotland

Carnforth Primary - England

Runner's up:

Ysgol Nant y Coed - Wales

Severn Primary - Wales

Abbey Primary School - Scotland

St. John the Baptist Primary School – Scotland

St. Nicholas' Primary School - England

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School - England

Highly commended schools:

Alexander Peden Primary School

Allensbank Primary School

Arkholme C of E Primary School

Asmall Primary School

Bacup Thorn Primary School

Barsail Primary School

Bent Primary School

Betws Primary

Bickerstaffe CE Primary School

Blackwood Primary School

Braidwood Primary School

Breckon Hill Primary School

Broad Haven Primary School

Burnside Primary School

Calderwood Primary School

Castlepark Primary School

Chapelton Primary School

Coedpenmaen Primary School

Coppull Parish CE Primary School

Darran Park primary

Drumpark Primary ASN School

Dykesmains Primary School

East Fulton Primary School

Glebe Primary School

Glengowan Primary School

Grange Primary School

Hay on Wye Primary School

Henllys Church in Wales Primary School

High Mill Primary School

Hudson Road Primary School

John Cross CE Primary School

Kelly Street Children's Centre

Lanark Primary School

Law Primary School

Llangors Primary School

Llanharan Primary School

Loch Primary School

Lynnfield Primary School

Maesycoed Primary School

Mellor Saint Mary CE Primary School

Milton of Balgonie Primary School

Murray Primary School

Nantymoel Primary

Netherburn Primary School

Newmains Primary School

Newport Primary School

Our Lady of Peace Primary School

Pirnmill Primary School

Rougemont Junior School

Silverdale St. John's CE Primary School

St. Charles Primary School

St. Cuthberts RC Primary School

St. Joseph's Primary School

St. Paul's CIW Primary School

St. Peter's Catholic Primary School

St. Robert's Catholic Primary

Staining C of E Voluntary Controlled Primary School

Stanford-in-the-Vale Primary School

Stonehouse Primary School

Trellech Primary

Underbank Primary School

Ward Jackson Church of England Primary School

Wormit Primary School

Ysbyty Ifan

Ysgol Bro Tawe

Ysgol Deganwy

Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llantrisant

Ysgol Gynradd Llandwrog

Ysgol Rhys Prichard

Ysgol San Sior

Schools with special recognition:

Arkleston Primary School

Beckford Primary School

Brisbane Primary School

Carnbroe Primary School

Castlepark Learning Centre

Dasfen Primary School

Glencairn Primary School

Hakin Community Primary School

Kirkfieldbank Primary School

Lamlash Primary School

Mossend Primary School

Orchard Meadow Primary School

Penygawsi Primary School

Shakespeare Primary School

St Athan Primary School

St David's RC Primary School

St Michael's RC Primary

St. Aidan's Primary School

St. Bernadette's Primary School

St. Columbkille's Primary School

St. Michael's CE Aided Primary School

St. Oswalds V A School

Wellpark Children's Centre

Willow Lane Catholic Primary School

Woodlands Nursery Centre

Ysgol Esgob Morgan

Ysgol Hiraddug

Schools to be awarded certificates:

Colinsburgh Primary School

Bryn Celyn Primary

Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor

Condorrat Primary School

Corsehill Primary School & Nursery Class

Craigbank Primary School

Holytown Primary School

Howwood Primary School

Inchinnan Primary School

Ladywell Primary School

NPTC Group Newtown Campus

Our Lady & St. Francis Primary School

Pontrhondda Primary School

Rashielea Primary School

Rhos Helyg

Rigside Nursery

Rogerstone Primary School

Saint Anthony's Primary School

St. Aidan's Primary School

St. Bridget's Primary School

St. Brigid's Primary School

St. Mark's Primary School

St. Mary's Primary School

St. Paul's Primary School



Tongwynlais Primary School

Whitelees Primary School

Ysgol Coed y Gof

Ysgol Ffridd y Llyn

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn

Ysgol Mair

Ysgol Pencae

Thank you for all your hard work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

The Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology exhibition not only highlights the objects recovered from excavations but the process and adventure that many archaeologists went on while making these discoveries.  These archaeological adventures also coincide with the Visit Wales Year of Adventure.  In looking at the wider world of adventure, there are few things more adventurous than climbing Mount Everest.  And while it might seem that Mount Everest is a world away from Wales, the connections between the two reach lofty heights.

The first of those connections begins with the name.  Mount Everest was named after George Everest.  Born in Crickhowell, Powys in 1790 he trained as an engineer and spent most of his career working in India on a detailed survey of the entire subcontinent.  He served as Surveyor General of India and it was his successor, in 1857, who suggested the mountain be named after him.  Everest disagreed with this honour, he believed when naming geographical sites it was best to use local names.  However, since there were several local names for the mountain, the name Everest remained.  

George Everest (19th century photo)


There is another name connection between Mount Everest and Wales.  After the Great Trigonometrical Survey gave an official height to the mountain for the first time in 1856, it became something to conquer.  In 1921, Britain organised their first reconnaissance team whose job it was to map the various features and possible routes for future climbers.  George Mallory was a member of this team and while surveying, he came across a glacial valley and named it the Western Cwm.  For anyone who knows their Welsh, cwm means valley.  It is said that Mallory visited Snowdonia many times to climb and the name may reflect that.    

Mount Everest


Training is key to any expedition, especially something as extreme as climbing Mount Everest.  The 1953 British Mount Everest Expedition began their training in 1952 and chose Snowdonia as their base.  While it might pale in comparison in height, Snowdon offered the climbers many opportunities to train on treacherous rock face and unstable scree.  Their headquarters was based at the Pen-y-Gwryd Inn, between Llanberis and Capel Curig.  You can still stay there and the walls are lined with mementos from the team’s time in residence.   

There were also two Welsh members of the 1953 Expedition.  In fact, it was almost a Welshman who reached the summit first.  Charles Evans was a teacher from North Wales and was the deputy expedition leader.  Evans and Tom Bourdillon were the first team to make an attempt on the summit on 26 of May.  They were a mere 100 meters from making history when they decided to turn back to camp because they were running low on oxygen.  While it is possible to climb Mount Everest without oxygen it undoubtably makes it more difficult and dangerous.  The 1953 Expedition knew the value of using oxygen properly and part of that was thanks to Griffith Pugh.  As a qualified doctor, Pugh was able to combine his medical knowledge and interest in Alpine sports by studying the effects of altitude on the body.  He was the physiologist of the expedition and his main duty was ensuring there was enough oxygen and that the other members acclimated to the altitude safely.  

2004 photo mosaic the Himalayas with Makalu and Mount Everest from the International Space Station, Expedition 8.

On the 23rd of May 1995, Caradog Jones, from Tregaron, Ceredigion, became the first Welshman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.  Twelve years and one day later, Tori James, from Pembrokeshire, became the first Welsh woman to accomplish the feat. 

Don't worry no violence was involved.  It was the turn of Llainfadyn this week, our quarrymen’s cottage from Gwynedd, to receive a clean and make over from our Historic Interior and Conservation Volunteer team.  It was a big task so thanks to everyone involved. This included stripping the beds and giving everything including the feather mattresses a good airing and beating to remove a winters worth of dust and dirt.  As long as the textiles are strong enough this is still a very effective method of removing grime without the aid of modern appliances.

We also held a competition between a modern broom and a traditional one made from hazel twigs (that all important witches’ accessory at Halloween).  To help protect the collections on display it's important we try and reduce the amount of dust and dirt being brought into the houses by our thousands of visitors each year.  Our first line of defence to achieve this is the cobbles outside, these help dislodge the grit and dirt from peoples' shoes before they even enter the building, but for these to work the cobbles need to be clean and not clogged up with dirt. So one of our first important tasks was to clean the stones outside.

So which broom won?  The traditional of course, with its long twiggy brush it was the best at dislodging the dirt from between the cobbles.   This job would certainly have been an everyday task for most households in the past.

Our second line of defence to keep the dust down is the rag rug, often found in cottages of this period.  These were made from scraps of material or worn out clothes and blankets, so as well as providing much needed comfort and colour they were great at trapping dirt.  They could then be picked up, taken outside and beaten with a carpet beater to remove the grime.  We are currently making one for Llainfadyn, unfortunately the odd hail storm meant that Jane and Emma had to find seats by the open fire to carry on their work. 

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have been recently added to the industry and transport collections.

The first object this month is this rugby shirt with a ‘Tower Colliery’ badge. It was worn in the 1992 British Coal Cup Final. The donor was working in Taff Merthyr Colliery at the time, and took part in the 1992 Final in which Tower Colliery won. At the end of the match he swapped his Taff Merthyr Colliery RFC shirt for this Tower Colliery one.

Tower Colliery rugby shirt.

Also, this month the museum was donated two paintings of Pontardawe Steel, Tinplate & Sheet Works. These were painted in 1955 by local amateur artist David Humphreys (born 1882), who had been employed in the works.

“Bar Mill” depicts the roughing stand of the steelworks bar mill, whilst “Hot Mill’s” depicts part of the sheet mills. In both paintings the artist has carefully recorded the working positions of the rollermen and the tools and features of the mill environments, such as the racked bar-turning tongs and cabin on the left of “Bar Mill”, and the tea cans (‘sten’) and jackets in the right foreground of “Hot Mill's”. Such attention to detail to the plant and environment is a distinctive hallmark of an industry ‘insider’ recording scenes he was intimately familiar with.

"Bar Mill"


"Hot Mill's"

This electric cap lamp was manufactured by Oldham & Son Ltd. in about 1995. It is a standard coal-mining specification cap lamp, but is distinguished by being specifically inscribed “H.M.I” (Her Majesty’s Inspector (of Mines)) on the metal battery lid. It was owned and used by one of the South Wales Inspectors of Mines between 1996 and c.2004 during the course of his work.

Oldham electric cap lamp.

Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. The collection ranges across railway and maritime transport, coal mining, the mining and smelting of metals, general industry, and service industries (finance, leisure, consumer products, etc.).

The museum is actively collecting in this field, and this month we have added two further examples to the collections.

The first is for the The Gwendraeith [sic] Valleys Lime Coal & Railway Co Ltd. This company was formed in February 1868 to develop the limestone and coal deposits in the lower Gwendraeth Valley. The company wanted to develop limestone quarrying and lime burning, and to acquire the existing railway which it intended to extend into the coalfield on the south side of the valley. However only 185 shares were subscribed to and with insufficient capital the company was wound up in December 1869, having achieved nothing on the ground. This certificate is a good example of a number of companies that tried unsuccessfully to develop the anthracite area of the south Wales coalfield.

The second certificate is for the Llynvi & Ogmore Railway Company. This company was formed in 1866 to amalgamate the broad gauge Llynvi Railway Company of 1846 and the standard gauge Ogmore Valley Railway of 1863. Both companies’ railways were focussed on Porthcawl Harbour and both were dominated by the Brogden family, Lancashire industrialists who developed the Maesteg iron and coal industry and who expanded dock facilities at Porthcawl. The company was managed by the Great Western Railway from 1873, and eventually absorbed by the G.W.R. in 1883.

This object is a cast iron artillery round made in Blaenavon steelworks in the mid 19th century. Surplus ones were re-forged for bridle chains on colliery headgears. The chains can be seen in the last photograph of the three below showing blacksmiths at Big Pit in about 1950.

Artillery round made in Blaenavon steelworks.


Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW