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Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

January 2014

A Window into the Industry Collections

Posted by Mark Etheridge on 29 January 2014

We have had a number of interesting objects coming into the Industry collections since my last Blog. Here are just a few.

This wooden full hull ship model is of the m.v. Innisfallen. The Innisfallen was built in 1969 to inaugurate British & Irish Line’s Swansea to Cork ferry service. She was eventually sold to Corsica Ferries and then to Sancak Lines, Turkey. After a number of name changes she was broken up in 2004.

 

The commemorative plate below was manufactured by Ceramic Arts in 1989. It commemorates both the National Justice For Mineworkers Campaign, 5th Anniversary of 1984-85 strike, and the centenary of the National Union of Mineworkers.

 

This illuminated address was presented to Harry Brean by the workmen of the Risca Collieries for bravery during the “Gob Fire” at the Old Black Vein Colliery between July 12th and August 9th 1918. Presented towards the end of the First World War, it is interesting to note that the address states that “the Coal Mines produce their Great Heroes no less than the Battlefield”. The address is of a standard format that was printed by the Western Mail Ltd., Cardiff, and then hand illuminated. Note that his name is spelt incorrectly on address!

 

The object below we believe to be a calendar mount. It was printed on tinplate by Metal Box Company Limited in Neath, c.1960. The image is of a painting by the artist Harold Forster. The original oil on board painting depicts the hot strip mill at Abbey iron and steel works in Port Talbot and dates to 1955. The original painting is in our collection and details of this work and others by Harold Forster can be seen on our Images of Industry online catalogue - http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/industry/images/?action=search&search_type=artist_title&artist=forster&title=

 

 Mark Etheridge

Curatorial Assistant (Industry)

 

Little Tiny Shoots

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 29 January 2014

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Tiny daffodil shoot – 1cm tall.

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Last years bulbs - growing much taller.

Hi bulb buddies

How are your bulbs getting on? Remember to watch them closely as from January onwards you may start to see little green shoots pushing up through the soil – it’s very exciting when they first appear! I was so happy when I went outside this week and saw these little tiny shoots in my plant pots – they are so lovely!

Archbishop Hutton's Primary School sent me this message: A. and J. came running to tell me that our first crocuses have appeared over the weekend and we have taken some photos of them.

That’s fantastic news! Well done A. and J.! I am really glad you are so excited about your plants. I would love to see your photos, maybe you could email them to me?

I hope you are all enjoying your investigation bulb buddies. When your plants start to peep through the soil, why don’t you take some photos too? If you email them to me I will put them on this blog.

 

WHAT TO DO NEXT…

  • Keep up the great work sending in your weather reports.
  • Watch for your first shoots to arrive.
  • Keep watching every day as they grow taller.
  • When you flowers open - celebrate!! Then record the date and how high the plant is.
  • Send me your Flower Records on the website.

Please use my Power Point presentation to find out how to keep flower records.

 

Your questions, my answers:

Ysgol Bro Eirwg: Blwyddyn Newydd Dda Athro’r Ardd! Ar ôl y gwyliau roedd y casglydd glaw yn llawn, felly methu cymryd darlleniad cywir. Arthro’r Ardd: Blwyddyn Newydd Dda Ysgol Bro Eirwg! Diolch am roi gwybod i fi am eich problemau mesur glaw, bydda i’n nodi hyn. Peidiwch â phoeni, digwyddodd hyn i lawer o ysgolion oherwydd iddi fwrw cymaint o law dros y gwyliau.

Cawthorne's Endowed Primary School: Im sorry we missed Friday we still want to go to Wales!!! Please wish us luck in Manchester. Prof P: Wishing you lots and lots of luck with your Spring bulbs Cawthorne School! Just wanted to let you know that if you are an English School and you win the Super Scientist Prize, we will arrange a day out for you in England instead of you travelling to Wales. It will still be a Super fun day, I promise.

Woodplumpton St. Anne's Primary School: sorry we forgot to take readings on two days - our teacher was not in school to remind us. There was a lot of rain over the holidays! We were surprised the temperatures were as high as they were. It felt colder. We talked about wind chill. Prof P: You are doing a great job and I am very pleased to hear you have talked about wind chill, it can make us feel VERY cold, can't it? Brrrrr.

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: When we came back from our Christmas break the rainfall gauge was overflowing as nobody had been able to empty it over the holidays. The ground is getting very wet and muddy and we have to be careful collecting the information. Prof P: Be careful in the mud! We don't want any accidents, were you wearing your school shoes or your wellies?

Raglan VC Primary: Extreme rainfall on Wednesday evening. Prof P: There has been some very extreme weather recently Raglan, you are right!

Llanishen Fach C.P School: No rainfall measurement for Monday as rain gauge was full from holiday. Very high measurement for Friday rainfall - gauge was emptied on Weds and no rainfall Thursday during day. Prof P: Excellent weather reporting Llanishen Fach.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Monday we were off. We have noticed that the bulbs have started to sprout and are growing nicely. Prof P: Fantastic news!! Thanks for letting me know I hope you enjoy watching them grow!

Greyfriars RC Primary School: it was 50mm because that was all over the holidays. C: this is exciting and i dont know whats gonna happen. R: it was fun watering the plants with C. Prof P: Well done C and R, its great to hear you are working together and having fun.

Ysgol Nant Y Coed: School was closed on Monday sorry professor plant. Prof P: That's okay Ysgol Nant Y Coed, keep up the good work!

John Cross CE Primary School: we had some problems because sheep got on to our field and knocked over the rain collector. Prof P: What cheeky sheep! Maybe they were interested in your investigation and came over to have a closer look.

 

Crochet

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 27 January 2014

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At the beginning of January we had a crochet session where myself and Anna Phillips attempted to turn everyone into crochet queens. Anna made up a great little easy pattern to crochet circles which could then be turned into a garland, or maybe a coaster if you stopped at just making one. We will be having another crochet meet up on March 15 so come along to that one, and because everyone seems keen I'll try and add more dates to the rest of the year.

St Dwynwen's Day Cards and a Mocktail

Posted by Sian Lile-Pastore on 27 January 2014

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Last saturday (25th) was St Dwynwen's Day! I hope you all had cards and treats... we had a family drop-in card making session here in St Fagans National History Museum and we also did a bit of sewing too.

We will be doing something pretty similar for Valentine's Day on 8th and 9th of February.

And the mocktail?

That was for reading group! We were discussing 'Rules of Civility' by Amor Towles which is set in 1930s New York and therefore we had suitably 30s type refreshments - Shirley Temples and kit kats all round! (the kit-kat was introduced in 1937). Our next reading group meet up will be on 22 February where we'll be discussing Alan Hollinghurst's 'The Stranger's Child'. It's a big book, so you'd better start now.

Collections Review at Carmarthen Museum

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 27 January 2014

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Weaver bird nest

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Vasculum

On Friday, Adrian Plant and I, along with Christian Baars, took part in a Collections Review at Carmarthen Museum as part of the Esmee Fairbairn ‘Linking Natural Science Collections on Wales’ project. The museum, was in a lovely old house, the old Bishop’s Palace, just outside Carmarthen. We spent the day in the natural history store, systematically going through all of the boxes to see what was in each one and assess it’s condition and potential importance. As not all of it had been accessioned even the curators were not sure what might be there and we had a very interesting time never knowing what might be in the next box. Amongst the specimens we found were a collection of weaver birds’ nests and a ‘vasculum’ (metal box containing botanical specimens) containing an old seed collection along with the original bill of sale. Hopefully, some of these specimens may now find their way out to public display at some point in the future.

 
Blog by Teresa Darbyshire

Dydd Santes Dwynwen

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 24 January 2014

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True Heart Cockle

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Sweet Violet (Viola odorata)

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Purple Heart Urchin (Spatangus purpureus)

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Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)

To celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen we have searched our Natural History Collections at the Museum for some love related specimens:

The True Heart Cockle, found on reef systems in the Indo-Pacific.

Fioled Bêr/Sweet Violet (Viola odorata), which represents faithful love in the language of flowers.

The Purple Heart Urchin (Spatangus purpureus), a large heart-shaped urchin often found buried in sands and gravels. This is one of the specimens on display in the Life in the Sea Gallery.

Or for an alternative Dydd Santes Dwynwen, how about the Love-lies-bleeding plant (Amaranthus caudatus). This example was collected in Roath Park, Cardiff back in 1924 and is now in the National Welsh Herbarium at National Museum Cardiff.

More information on Dydd Santes Dwynen

Post by Sally Whyman, Jennifer Gallichan and Katie Mortimer-Jones

Stormy Winter

Posted by Danielle Cowell on 17 January 2014

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Google Maps image of Aberystwyth, Wales.

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Environment Agency Flood Warning map show areas in Aberystwyth that can suffer from flooding.

Happy New Year Bulb buddies! I hope you all had a fun Christmas.

It has been a very stormy in the last few weeks in many parts of the UK. Weather scientists at the Met Office say that this is due to the jet stream – a narrow band of fast moving winds high up in the atmosphere. The jet stream blows from west to east across the Atlantic Ocean and can bring us stormy weather.

December 2013 was the windiest month in the UK since January 1993. It has also been very rainy - in Scotland December was the wettest month since 1910. That means it hasn’t rained that much in Scotland for over 100 years! What has the weather been like where you live?

All this rain and stormy weather has meant that there have been floods in parts of England, Wales and Scotland, and sadly some people’s houses were flooded at Christmas. In areas close to the seaside giant waves also caused flooding.  

 

SUPER SCIENTIST CHALLENGE:

Why do some areas flood and others don’t? Use these maps to investigate!

Study the first map of Aberystwyth in Wales, where there has been flooding. Can you see the wiggly lines called ‘contour lines’ that show the shape of the mountains and hills? Can you see the sea and the river shown in blue? When rain falls in the surrounding area it runs down the hills into the river then into the sea. If there is very heavy rainfall the river may flood. If it is very stormy there may be very large waves. Where do you think it might flood? Hint – flooding can happen in low lying areas and areas near rivers and the sea. This link has some animations about the different factors that cause a flood.

Study the second map from the Environment Agency – the purple areas show where there is risk of flooding. Is the flood risk where you thought it would be?

 

Now you can investigate the area where you live…

First search for your school on the first map. Can you see any contour lines? Where is the high land and the low land? Is there a river, lake or the sea nearby? Where might it flood?

Next search for your school on the second map. Make sure you tick the two boxes ‘Flood Warning areas’ and ‘Flood Alert areas’ on the left of the page, flood risk areas will then show up in purple. Is there a flood risk in your area? Is the flood risk where you thought it would be?

Exploring Insect Diversity in Thailand

Posted by Katie Mortimer-Jones on 16 January 2014

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Dr Adrian Plant sampling a stream on Doi Inthanon

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Bog in moist hill evergreen forest, Doi Inthanon

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Doi Phahompok National Park

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Moist Hill Evergreen forest Doi Inthanon

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(Searching for the ‘missing millions’) 

To an explorer of biodiversity, especially invertebrate biodiversity, tropical forests remain largely unknown and unmapped territory. I study the insect Order Diptera (flies), and while some 150,000 species have already been found and described world-wide, perhaps 2-10 million (maybe more!) remain completely unknown to science and a large proportion of these will undoubtedly be found in tropical forests. As Principal Curator of Entomology, much of my research effort is devoted to finding and describing the ‘missing millions’ (taxonomy), understanding how and where they evolved (phylogeny and biogeography) and investigating the roles they play in modern ecosystems (ecology).

One of my favorite areas to work in is southeast Asia, particularly Thailand where my studies have already described about 70 new species of fly in the group known as Empidoidea (dance-flies and their allies). I recently began a project with Wichai Srisuka, my colleague in the Entomology section of the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden in Thailand, in which we are using Malaise traps (a tent-like structure into which insects fly and can be trapped) to sample dance-flies and other insects on two of Thailand’s highest mountains; Doi Inthanon and Doi Phahompok. The samples collected will no doubt contain many new species for me to describe for the first time and should also yield valuable data on how communities of insects on the mountains vary with altitude. The summit slopes of Doi Phahompok and Doi Inthanon are covered in a type of thick luxurious wet forest known as Moist Hill Evergreen in which many endemic species occur (an endemic species is one entirely confined to a particular locality). Our earlier results suggest that although these two mountains are only 150km apart and have many similarities in their fly fauna, both have many endemic species on them too. By comparing the degree of ‘endemicity’ on the two mountains we hope to better understand some of the historical processes that gave rise to the exceptional biodiversity of these areas.

When scientists try to identify geographical areas of conservation importance they like to map not only diversity (essentially, how many different species there are) but also endemicity. Knowing exactly where biodiversity and endemicity hotspots are enables conservation planners to better target their efforts. In the tropics, knowledge of diversity and endemicity is largely confined to a few groups of plants and vertebrates. Unfortunately, these creatures represent only a small fraction of the variety of life so prioritizing conservation efforts using them alone is imperfect. Furthermore, measures of plant and vertebrate variety are not effective surrogates of invertebrate diversity whereas knowledge of invertebrate diversity does in fact tell us much about that of other animals and plants. We are slowly starting to produce maps of invertebrate endemicity which we hope will provide better tools to help conservation authorities in Thailand prioritize their conservation efforts.

Dr Adrian Plant

Vintage postcard heaven!

Posted by Jennifer Evans on 15 January 2014

From an original watercolour by E. W. Trick

Published by Valentine's & Sons Ltd

 Some people really are very kind. An anonymous donor left a little packet of these delightful Welsh postcards in one of our departmental pigeon holes. They will be sent over to the Archives Department at St Fagans: Museum of National History but I couldn't resist posting a small selection of them here first.

 

From an original watercolour by Edward H. Thompson

Published by Valentine's & Sons Ltd

 

"CARBO COLOUR" postcard

Published by Valentine's & Sons Ltd

 

Published by E. T. W. Dennis & Sons Ltd, London and Scarborough

 

From an original watercolour by Brian Gerald

Published by Valentine's & Sons Ltd

 

From an original watercolour by Edward H. Thompson

Published by Valentine's & Sons Ltd

 

 

The cards are mostly landscape views of Llangollen but this bright little quartet was also included

 

 

Seven of the more picturesque cards were published by Valentine's & Sons Ltd as part of their "Art Colour" series and there is a good a bit of information available on the company via the links below: 

http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb227-ms38562

http://www.collections.co.uk/postcards/publishers/valentine.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Valentine_(photographer)

Other publishers include E. T. W. dennis & Sons [London and Scarborough], N. P. O. Ltd [Belfast], J. Arthur Dixon Ltd. [G.B.], Judges Ltd. [Hastings, England], Walter Scott [Bradford], J. Salmon Ltd. [Sevenoakes, England], and Photo-Precision Ltd. [St Albans]. 

 

Unfortunately, none of the cards has been written on.

 

Bryn Eryr Farm - How to become an Iron Age Carpenter

Posted by Penny Hill on 9 January 2014

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An Iron Age Axe from Dinorben Hillfort, one of the original objects from the collection used to base our replicas for Bryn Eryr on.

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All the original carpentry tools in the Archaeology ollection have been laid out in the lab for our blacksmith to examine. He is working out how to reproduce them as accurately as possible using wrought iron.

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Probably getting too excited here! But the archeaology collectons turned out to contain far more examples of ancient carpentry tools than expected. We often had more than one example of a type to examine.

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The blacksmith at St.Fagans starts work on the replica Carpentry tools.

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As Steve said in his last blog posted in December, we’ve started work on growing the thatch for our new Iron Age farm. Alongside this work we’ve also been giving a lot of thought to the objects that will go inside the houses.  Far from being primitive, these replica objects will reflect the high level of knowledge and skill possessed by people who lived in Bryn Eryr over 2000 years ago. One of the first tasks is to furnish the round houses with all those essential objects that no self-respecting Iron Age household could do without, such as plates, bowls, utensils, buckets , storage containers, shelves, barrels, weaving looms, beds, just to name a few.

In this period all these items were made from wood, but we have a problem, wood deteriorates quickly in the ground so objects made from this material rarely survive.  However, we think we can find out more about the wooden objects they would have had by studying the carpentry tools available at this time. These were made from iron and because of this have survived in greater abundance. Ancient iron-work is often much underrated as it doesn’t look very attractive, but when trying to recreate everyday life the information domestic ironwork objects can provide is invaluable.

The first stage of making the replicas was to search the archaeological collections for any original Iron Age carpentry tools.  Much to my delight we had quite a lot of material and could virtually recreate a whole tool kit from examples found throughout Wales. Our Bryn Eryr tool kit will therefore consist of an axe, adze-hammer, gouge, chisels, files, drill bits and numerous wedges from small to large.  Timber in the Iron Age was divided up by splitting with wedges rather than cutting with a saw.  Saws did exist, but were small, similar to modern pruning saws today.

An Iron Age household would be equipped with a wide range of tools for a variety of purposes. Some of these objects appear strange to us today, but others are quite familiar. A 2,000 year old chisel found in the Roman fort of Brecon Gaer and a gouge from the Hill Fort at Castell Henllys wouldn’t look out of place in a carpenter’s tool kit today.

Once our tool kit had been compiled from the examples in the collection, the next step was to make working replicas that could be used by our craftspeople to recreate the objects for Bryn Eryr.

Careful conservation of the original tools had preserved some of the original surfaces. Marks on these surfaces enabled our blacksmith 2000 years later to work out how they were made and reproduce the replicas as accurately as possible.  The replicas are recreated in wrought iron like the originals, which is much softer than the steel used today, so it will be interesting to see how these tools perform? Will we be able to produce a decent cutting edge, how quickly will this edge dull and how often will it need to be sharpened?

Making the tool heads is only half the story, these tools can’t be used without handles!  None of the originals survive and from the shape of some tools we just can’t pop modern handles on them.  We know our tools once had wooden handles, because in some cases the deteriorating iron around the socket  had made a cast of the wood surface before the handle disappeared.  Using a combination of this information and some surviving material from elsewhere, plus the expertise of our own carpenters and estate workers, we managed to reproduce handles to complete the tools.

Now all we have to do is see if they work! More importantly have we still got the expertise to use these tools properly? Hopefully by using them we’ll gain an insight into the skill of our Iron Age carpenters.  I’m sure they would be laughing themselves silly if they could see our efforts today, but we have to start somewhere!

So, how did our tools perform? Its early days, but everyone including our craftspeople are impressed. They appear to be performing well, we even managed to split a large piece of timber with our wedges.  It probably explains why so many of these wedges end up in our collection, they tend to get lost inside the timber during splitting and fall to the ground where they are difficult to spot!

We hope to undertake more experimental work to assess the performance of these tools, so keep watching this space, but in the mean time we have to crack on, there’s the contents of a roundhouse to make!

  • National Museum Cardiff

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    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

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    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

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    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

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    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

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    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

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    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

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    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.