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A century ago, on 22 March 1916, a hospital was opened in the grounds of St Fagans Castle – one of the hundreds of auxiliary hospitals set up by the Red Cross during the First World War.

Before the war the Red Cross had joined with the Order of St John’s to establish the Voluntary Aid Detachment Scheme (VAD). The aim of the scheme was to provide training for volunteers to assist the military hospitals in the event of war. Here, at St Fagans in 1909 the first detachment (VAD) in Wales was established with many others following soon after.

The Countess of Plymouth from St Fagans Castle was the President of the Glamorgan branch of the Red Cross and was instrumental in the progress of the society in the county. It was the Countess and her husband, the Earl of Plymouth, who offered the Castle gardens and grounds for hosting the VAD recruitment and training days. They later gave the Banqueting Hall over to the Red Cross to be used as an auxiliary hospital. The Hall had been originally built to host social and family celebrations but the large building with its extensive gardens was suitable for housing a small hospital.

It was the Plymouth’s who contributed to the majority of the necessary refurbishment. The hospital opened with 30 beds but within a few weeks another 10 beds were added. A year later, in 1917, the hospital had 70 beds including a new extension and sanitary wing.

Most of the nurses in the auxiliary hospitals were volunteers and members of the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment. Each hospital had some professional staff too; a Commandant, a Quartermaster and a Sister-in-Charge. At St Fagans Hospital, most of the women were local, some of whom were in the service of the Plymouth family at the Castle.

Auxiliary hospitals assisted the larger hospitals and didn’t have the facilities to nurse severely injured soldiers. Many of the patients at St Fagans were transferred from the 3rd General Western Hospital in Cardiff, others were sent directly from the front line. We can’t begin to imagine how the soldiers had suffered before coming here to St Fagans. A century on, it brings comfort that this hospital would have once been a haven for many to begin to heal the physical and mental scars of war.

Twitter: #Hospital100 #Ysbyty100

 

There have been lots of comments about the warmer weather we have had over the last week. The MET Office reported that Thursday the 17th of March was the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures reaching 17 degrees. Silverdale St. John's CE School commented that “Thursday was the hottest day since December”. Many of you also made a connection between the warmer weather and your plants at long last coming into bloom!

Ysgol Pentrefoelas: Cawsom glaw dydd Llun a Dydd Mercher cawsom wythnos sych a braf redden yn ein t-shirt. Wythnos braf ers hir iawn. Wedi bod yn aros yn hir am y blodau i agor. O'r diwedd! Rydym ni wedi cael wythnos gynnes, sy'n helpu i'r blodau dyfu.

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: Most of the crocus bulbs have now flowered and we have been busy measuring them. 3 of the daffodils in the bed have also flowered and there are a lot more in the bed and the pots which will flower soon. The weather is starting to get warmer now.

Arkholme CE Primary School: It was a warm week and some of the bulbs have started to bud and we are going to be watching them carefully.

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: Lots of flowers this week so we have been busy measuring them. Most of the bulbs have flowered and they look very pretty. The weather is getting warmer and we have had some sunshine. We think that Spring is nearly here.

Professor Plant: Thank you for your up-date The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary. I would like to share your comment from week 9 here, this shows how quickly the weather changes, as in week 9 you were reporting wind and snow! The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: It was very exciting this week, as we noticed that nearly all the crocus plants had buds. It has been very windy this week and there has been heavy rain during some nights. This morning it snowed. When we went to check the plants this afternoon, the snow was almost all melted and 3 crocus flowers were out so we were able to measure our first flowers.

 

I’ve enjoyed receiving updates on your plants, thank you Bulb Buddies!

Severn Primary: Lots of yellow and purple flowers - we have taken photos!

Stonehouse Primary School: Everyone was so excited when we went round for our dinner and passed the pots and saw our first crocus open.

Shakespeare Primary School (270mm):  Dear professor plant the daffodils are doing really good mine's the tallest so far. From S

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Flowering this year is a bit later, compared to last years!

Maesycoed Primary: Our crocuses have finally flowered hooray!!!

 

I have also enjoyed hearing about the different experiments you have been doing:

Mellor Saint Mary CE Primary School: When I moved my crocus into the light it flowered faster

Darran Park Primary: This week's growth has been 12cm so it has increased by 2 cm in a week

Maesycoed Primary: All of our class daffodils and crocuses have now flowered but the other class we were experimenting with, their daffodils haven't flowered but their crocuses have. Their yard is in shade most of the day and is cooler than ours.

The Bulb Team Rougemont Junior School: We planted 25 bulbs in a grid and all of the daffodils have flowered well and they are looking very healthy. Our daffodils in pots are slow to flower and look very small. We will send you a photo of our grid.

Professor Plant: I’m excited to hear you have been comparing plants in the ground to plants in pots Bulb Team. I would very much like to see a photo of your planting grid! I’m surprised to hear about the difference in size between your daffodils. Perhaps some of the mystery bulbs (Tete-a-Tete Daffodils) I sent you were mixed in with the Tenby Daffodil bulbs?

The Bulb team Rougemont: We are interested that our daffodils have small heads is this because they are a particular variety?

Professsor Plant: Hi Rougemont Primary. You were sent Tenby Daffodils, Whitewell Crocus and the mystery bulbs were Tete-aTete Daffodils. Tete-aTete are a miniature daffodil and so will be much smaller that the Tenby Daffodils.

Rougemont Junior School: My crocus is very thin and does not have many leaves. Why is this?

Professor Plant: Hi Rougemont Primary. Your Crocus plants will be much smaller than your Daffodils. They are small, thin, delicate looking plants. The leaves are also quite different to those of your daffodil, and are much thinner. If you have found that your Crocus is thinner and has less leaves than the others planted by your class, it could be because your bulb was smaller. Plants are all unique and even the same types of plant will be slightly different from one another.

 

And I have been interested to receive updates on the weather in your areas. St. Michael's Primary School reported severe flooding: "On Wednesday 9th March we had lots of rain which caused some flooding in Marston and the surrounding area". And about other activities you are involved with, Drumpark Primary ASN School reported that they had been “busy preparing for our Fairtrade Bake-off. We won a special trophy for doing extra hard work!”. Well done Bulb Buddies!

 

Many of you were very excited to let me know that your plants were the first to flower at your school:

F from Ysgol Pentrefoelas (10th March): Hwre! Dyma'r blodyn cyntaf i agor o'r holl botiau!!

C from Newmains Primary School (14th March): Our first daffodil!!! The same pot also gave us Crocus number 1.

R from St. Michael's Primary School (11th March): This is our first flower!

L from Bickerstaffe CE Primary School: Mine was the first to flower.

Willow Lane Catholic Primary School: This is our first crocus bulb to flower

 

Some of you let me know that your plants haven’t yet flowered. Hopefully your plants are just taking their time, but if you haven’t had any sign of growth yet it is unlikely that your plants will grow now. I planted four pots with one Daffodil and Crocus in each. One of my Daffodils didn’t grow a bud and so couldn’t produce a flower, and one didn’t sprout at all. Sometimes this can be a result of poor conditions, such as not enough light, water or warmth. Sometimes it’s the soil or a defect with the bulb. I’m sorry if your plants don’t flower, I know it’s disappointing.

T from St Robert's R.C Primary School: I'm still waiting for my Crocus to flower!

E from St Robert's R.C Primary School: I'm still waiting for my daffodil to flower.

Bent Primary School: Our bulbs are growing slowly. They are about 9 cm high.

Brisbane Primary School: Our Daffodils still show no sign of growth!! We think the soil and location has worked against us.

East Fulton Primary School: All of our bulbs are growing but three!

Burnside Primary School: Most of our crocuses in the pots died even though we watered them and took care of them. DEAD.

Professor Plant: Hi Burnside Primary. I can see from the flowering records that 25 of the Crocus at your school have flowered! The life-cycle of these flowers is quite quick and they only flower for a short period. But the bulb itself will have stored lots of nutrients to help it grow again next year. There’s information on how to care for your bulbs so that you can re-plant them next year here: http://www.wikihow.com/Cure-Daffodil-Bulbs-for-Replanting . You can also look at the 'make your own origami booklet' resource on the Spring Bulbs for Schools website. This tells the story of 'the secret, undercover life of a bulb'.

Arkholme CE Primary School: Some of the bulbs from last year have flowered.

Professor Plant: I’m glad Bulb Buddies, maybe you can re-plant this year’s bulbs for next year too!

 

We also had some lovely comments sent in with the flower records. Thank you to everyone at St Robert’s Primary School, I have included your comments below.

"I can't believe it!!!"

"I liked the project!"

"I liked growing the bulbs!"

"Thank you for the bulbs!"

"Thank you Professor for the bulbs!"

"Thank you very much for my lovely bulbs!"

"I want to say thank you for my bulbs!"

"I like my pretty Crocus."

"I would just like to say that I think my Crocus is very pretty."

"This was so much fun thank you!"

"I would like to say that I liked planting my flowers thank you!"

"I loved doing this thank you. I really enjoyed planting the bulbs."

"I love my flowers thank you!"

"This was an amazing experience. Thank you!"

"I thought it was cool!"

"I love my Crocus!"

"Thank you for sending us the items to do this project!"

"I love my Daffodil Thank you!"

"Thank you Professor I love my Crocus"

"Thank you for letting me take part."

Professor Plant: You are welcome Bulb Buddies. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the project and that you care for your plants.

 

Gwaith da iawn Cyfeithion y Gwanwyn. Good work Bulb Buddies.

In the early 1970s Museum staff set out to record older and retired farmers describing farming in Wales in the first half of the twentieth century, before the large-scale mechanisation and expansion from the 1950s onwards. The recordings are kept in our Sound Archive.

In April 1977 Earnest Thomas Ruell, then aged 76, was interviewed about sheep farming in Radnorshire, mid-Wales, in the early decades of the twentieth century. Born in 1901, he lived at The Pant farm, Llanfihangel Rhydithon, in the hills north east of Llandrindod Wells.  After marrying in 1924 he farmed at Dolyfelin near Knighton for thirty four years.

In this short compilation of selected clips, Thomas Ruell describes lambing time, speaking in the distinctive accent of Radnorshire, one of the most rural Welsh counties, bordering Herefordshire.

The flock comprised 120 ewes and 4 or 5 rams. The breed of sheep was the local Kerry Hill, regarded as excellent mothers. Lambing took place outside, the only space available under cover was by emptying the wainhouse (cart shed) during heavy snow. Treatments for illnesses were limited and often based on local remedies. The flock producing a lambing figure of 125% was considered a good outcome. Female lambs grew into ewes and were kept for just over two years then sold, during which time they would have produced lambs themselves.

Large sheds allow lambing to be a lot less dependent upon weather conditions and the seasons, often starting as early as January. Here at Llwyn-yr-eos farm our ewes were all undercover well before lambing even began. Most flocks and farms now have to be considerably larger in order to be viable. Treatments for illnesses have advanced considerably, most of which can be applied by farmers themselves. Some similarities remain between lambing in the 1920s and the 1930s and the present, though, and a great deal of time, care and attention from the farmer are still fundamental elements for successful lambing today.

The wonders of Easter Island feature in Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology. 

Easter Island, in the Pacific Ocean, is the most isolated inhabited island; its closest neighbour being over 1,200 miles away.  The first inhabitants of Easter Island were explorers who sailed from the Polynesian islands to the west.  There is still a debate as to when they first arrived but they would have been settled by AD 1100 or 1200.  Over the next several centuries the Rapa Nui, as the island and the people were known, created the iconic moai statues out of the volcanic rock.  It wasn’t until 1722 when the first recorded Europeans visited that the island received the name we all know it by today.  Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen arrived to the island on Easter Sunday in 1722 and thought what better name for an island than Easter, or more correctly Paaseiland in Dutch.  Today, Easter Island is part of Chile and is officially referred to as Isla de Pascua.

Easter Island moai (by Mary Davis)

 

The Rapa Nui created almost 900 statues during their centuries of isolation from the rest of the world.  There was a central quarry and it appears that the statues were to line the coast of the island.  Despite the large number, only a quarter were erected on stone platforms along the coast.  About half of the statues never left the quarry and others look as if they were left along the side of the paths towards the coastal areas.  The statues ranged in size, the largest being 32 feet tall and weighing 82 tons. 

Easter Island moai (by Mary Davis)

It wasn't until the early 20th century that historians and archaeologists first arrived to study the enigmatic statues.  They wanted to know what the moai symbolised and how they were moved.  Since there is no written record to shed light on the motivation behind the statues, archaeologists had to look to the more recent Rapa Nui culture.  Like many other civilisations, worship of ancestors was part of the islanders' culture.  Most agree that the moai were probably symbols of important ancestors and that the erecting of the statues would ensure luck or success.  In trying to understand how these massive moai were transported around the island, the most obvious theory seemed to be that they used logs and a sledge to roll them.  This was a technique thought to have been used to move the stones at Stonehenge and the blocks for the Pyramids.  However, this theory has been challenged because it would have required hundreds of people to operate the sledge and logs and the population of the island appears to have been always rather small.  According to Rapa Nui tradition, the statues walked to their final resting place.   Archaeologists recently experimented with this theory using a replica statue.  By tying ropes around the head and rocking it back and forth it was possible to move the statue forward; almost like it was walking!

Easter Island moai in Rano Raraku quarry (by Mary Davis)

 

The days are getting longer and we’re feeling inspired by our great new Treasures exhibition. Let us help you begin your adventure with our top 5 exhibition gifts. 

1. Fire starter

Need to get things burning? Gentlemen's Hardware makes things easier with their glorious firestarter gadget – a safe and simple tool that creates a spark to start your fire when camping or out in the wild.

2. Lost Cities board game

The research teams are outfitted and ready to embark on their adventures to find five forgotten cities. Who will lead the way to fantastic discoveries?

3. Food flask

The adventure can begin with this black flask that provides ample room to keep soups or smoothies warm or cool. With a stainless steel lid hiding a screw top lid that keeps the contents secure and prevents heat loss, making the perfect gift.

4. Archaeology Kit

Learn the basics of carefully recording and unearthing treasures of the past.

5. Prisoners of the Sun (The Adventures of Tintin)

The Adventures of Tintin continue to charm more than 80 years after they first found their way into publication. Since then an estimated 230 million copies have been sold, proving that comic books have the same power to entertain children and adults in the 21st century as they did in the early 20th.