Moving the Bryn Celli Ddu stone
Moving the Bryn Celli Ddu stone from upper archaeology into its new home in the Origins exhibition.
Having moved most of the Early Christian Monuments to new homes already, we looked into the final stone – the Bryn Celli Ddu stone. This stone is from the Bryn Celli Ddu tomb (Anglesey) which is one of the best preserved passage tombs in Wales (for more information see this Rhagor article). We thought it was quite small, and shouldn't be too big a problem - we were wrong! It went right down to the floor, and was encased in a concrete block. We needed help. We called on Nigel Brake from Penybryn Engineering who had already helped us with the ECMs and has helped us many times with other specialised lifting, moving and metal work around the National Museum Cardiff.
Over the course of 10 days, we made a plan to remove the stone upwards out of its casing and onto a pallet for moving to the new gallery. In order to do that we needed to remove some ceiling tiles to create enough space above the stone. The lifting gear was brought in, curators and conservators watched anxiously as the stone was secured to the lifting gear and then removed from the concrete support. It was lifted clear and then carefully laid on a pallet. Jackie Chadwick, Archaeology Illustrator, took the opportunity to photograph and draw the stone in detail as it hadn't been seen in its entirety since 1979. Interestingly we made our own archaeological discovery: as the stone was removed we found evidence of a very different attitude to conservation – cigarette butts in the base of the stone meaning it most have been ok to smoke in the galleries then – unlike today!
Finally it was time to install the Bryn Celli Ddu stone in it's new support in the Origins Gallery. You'll be able to see it in all its glory when the exhibition opens in December.