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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Open Doors 2014: Come and find out more about our chapels!





Seion Chapel , Aberystwyth, NPRN: 7149.
 Bethel Chapel , Aberystwyth, NPRN: 7147. 
The flamboyant facades of the Baker Street chapels remain impressive over 100 years after construction.
As part of Open Doors 2014, on 20 September the Royal Commission in Aberystwyth will be opening its doors for a chapels’ history day. The day will involve talks by leading experts, the display of rare archive material, and the opportunity to discover more about our database of over 6000 chapels, and the exciting partnership project between the Royal Commission and Addoldai Cymru. At 1.30pm and 2pm there will also be the opportunity to join guided tours of some of Aberystwyth’s finest historic chapels. Led by a chapels expert from the Royal Commission, each tour will start from outside The English Baptist Chapel, Alfred Place, and will take between 1½ and 2 hours. The tours will conclude with tea, cake and biscuits at St Paul’s Methodist Centre, Queens Road, Aberystwyth. For further information and booking, please contact nicola.roberts@rcahmw.gov.uk, tel: 01970 621200.

First held in France in 1984, Open Doors is part of European Heritage Days, which take place across Europe every year in September and is organised in Wales by Cadw. It is an annual celebration,  which promotes architecture and the built heritage to as wide an audience as possible  by opening up buildings not normally open to the public, and by offering free entry to those sites that usually charge for entry.

'Open Doors is a national celebration of our heritage, and an excellent opportunity for people who care about their local heritage to share their passion with visitors by showing them their little corner of Wales’s history.' Minister for Natural Resources, Culture and Sport 2014


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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Job Vacancy - Learning Officer People’s Collection Wales





National Museum Cardiff, National Roman Legion Museum or National Slate Museum

29 hours per week

Contract up to 31 March 2015
(Secondments would be supported)


People’s Collection Wales is a Welsh Government-funded bilingual programme that enables individuals to celebrate Wales’ history through the sharing of their own personal stories.

The postholder will be responsible for developing and delivering exciting and innovative learning and training resources based on the People’s Collection Wales programme. The post-holder will also contribute to training educationalists in the museums, libraries and archives sector to use the website.

The successful candidate will have a good understanding of the National Curriculum as well as excellent project management and communication skills.

This post requires a good standard of spoken Welsh, for example, the ability to take an active part in meetings and presentations.

To apply please visit our website www.museumwales.ac.uk

Closing Date: 18 September 2014 (by 5pm)

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales is an equal opportunities employer. Applications are welcome from all sections of the community.



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Monday, 1 September 2014

Open Doors 2014: Come and find out more about chapels!





Hen Gapel, Llwynrhydowen, nprn:11594
Talks by leading experts, archival material, and the opportunity to discover more about the database of over 6000 chapels, and the exciting partnership project between the Royal Commission and Addoldai Cymru.

Hen Dŷ Cwrdd Unitarian Chapel, Trecynon, Aberdare, CF44 8NT.
6 September, 10am-12pm. Exhibition and talk by Stephen Hughes, “Chapels: The National Architecture of Wales”.

Yr Hen Gapel, Llwynrhydowen, Rhydowen, Llandysul, Ceredigion, SA44 4QB.
13 September, 3-6pm. Local choir and talk by Stephen Hughes, “Chapels: The National Architecture of Wales” Refreshments available from the Alltyrodyn Arms, Rhydowen.
Seion Chapel, Aberystwyth, nprn:7147
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Plascrug, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 1NJ. 20 September, talks 11am -1pm, tours 1.30pm and 2pm. The afternoon tours of Aberystwyth’s historic chapels are limited to 15 people per tour. For further information and booking, please contact nicola.roberts@rcahmw.gov.uk, tel: 01970 621200. Tours will start at 1.30pm and 2pm and will meet outside The English Baptist Chapel, Alfred Place, Aberystwyth.


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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

From Horrible Histories to work at the Royal Commission!





My love for history has taken me on a path that has led me from a love of Horrible Histories and The Mummy movies to a degree in Historical and Archival Studies at Aberystwyth University and a work placement at RCAHMW (and more horrible histories). As part of my course, I spent the whole of the month of July with  the Archives and Library team at the Commission and it strengthened my ambition to become an archivist.
 

I started my placement cataloguing the RCAHMW Wall Paintings in Welsh Churches Collection, which is centred around St Teilo’s Church, once in Llandeilo Talybont and now rebuilt at the St Fagan’s National History Museum. In this one collection I got to grips with correspondence, negatives, slides, tracings and field notes, all about the astonishing wall paintings found inside the church. This collection amazed me and opened my eyes to the exciting world of archives that until then I’d only known academically.



Having finished that collection, I worked on six more, the most exciting being the Excavations Collection. This collection of field notes, photographs and correspondence was in dire need of organisation and TLC, but I was assured that I was up to the task. Each box was more and more interesting, and there were even a few laughs to be had as when one archaeologist, struggling with dating a site, wrote to another saying, ‘I wish these tiresome people had used pottery’ !


I also did my bit for RCAHMW’s social media, and  tweeted about my work here over the last month. I hope to return to volunteer ─as I start my third year at the university─ and carry on with the work I love so much, in an organisation that has really welcomed me.

P.S. I’ve also learned that I hate rusty staples.


   

Charlotte Hollis,Aberystwyth University work-placement student



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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Summer drought in south and west Wales reveals new archaeological sites





There were more archaeological surprises this year for the Royal Commission’s aerial archaeologist, as  widespread hot weather in June and July parched grasslands and showed ‘cropmarks’ in ripening fields of wheat. 


Figure 1: Right place, right time. Known cropmark of an Iron Age defended enclosure (upper centre) north of Cardigan, photographed from the air as it is harvested. In an hour or two the site will be cropped, and will disappear until the next dry summer (Crown Copyright RCAHMW, 23 July 2014).
Dr Toby Driver explained:  ‘Despite the hot weather, frequent rain showers in many parts of Wales meant that cropmarks and parchmarks did not develop everywhere. Only in the south and west, across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan did the persistent drought reveal scores of prehistoric and Roman sites. Parchmarks of the Roman road running west of Carmarthen, as far as Wiston in Pembrokeshire, were seen for the first time since 1994 showing just how dry it got in the south-west.’

Dr Driver continued. ‘At the Royal Commission we have to be responsive to changing weather and crop conditions each summer. As the photo of the enclosure north of Cardigan shows, an hour either side of a flight can make the difference between obtaining a permanent record of a cropmark, or missing it completely.’

Figure 2: The Roman road west of Carmarthen, showing as a parched line approaching Whitland for the first time since 1994 (Crown Copyright RCAHMW, 30 July 2014).
Pembrokeshire held the most surprises, which was astonishing given the number of discoveries made across the county in the 2013 summer drought . As the dry summer of 2014 wore on, this coastal landscape yielded yet more unrecorded prehistoric sites. Close by the Rhoscrowther oil refinery in south Pembrokeshire a splendid concentric prehistoric defended enclosure was discovered in a field of ripening wheat. New defended enclosures of Iron Age or Romano-British type and plough-levelled Bronze Age barrows were recorded near Dale, near Broadhaven, and along the north coast near Carreg Sampson chambered tomb, Trefin.


Figure 3: The ghostly outline of a new Iron Age concentric enclosure near Rhoscrowther, south Pembrokeshire (AP_2014_3228, Crown Copyright RCAHMW, 22 July 2014)

AdFigure 4: Spectacular colours accompanied further discoveries of enclosures and hillforts close to Dale in south Pembrokeshire (AP_2014_3294, Crown Copyright RCAHMW, 22 July 2014).

A number of new sites were also discovered in south Wales, and included an unexpected prehistoric enclosure on a rocky headland at Oxwich on Gower, just south-east of the famous Oxwich Castle.


Figure 5. General view of Oxwich Castle, Gower, with cropmarks of the new defended enclosure in the right foreground (Crown Copyright RCAHMW, 23 July 2014).
Work back in the office to catalogue and record these discoveries will continue at the Royal Commission well into the winter months.

See our online gallery of aerial photographs for further images from our collections.

                                                                                                                             Toby Drive



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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

31 July 1917, Sergeant Rees Actions Won Him The Victoria Cross





On 31 July 1917, Sergeant Ivor Rees of the 38th Welsh Division, South Wales Borderers, stormed an enemy machine-gun position. His action won him the highest military award for gallantry in the face of the enemy – the Victoria Cross.

The citation that was published in the London Gazette on 14 September, read:
“At Pilckem, Belgium, on 31 July 1917, an enemy machine gun inflicted many casualties when it opened fire at close range. Sergeant Rees, leading his platoon, gradually worked his way round the right flank, by making short rushes, to the rear of the gun position. At 20 yards from the machine gun, Sergeant Rees rushed forward towards it, shooting one of the crew, and bayoneting the other. He bombed a large concrete emplacement, killing five of the enemy and taking 30 prisoners, including two officers and capturing a machine gun, undamaged.”

Ivor Rees was born in Felinfoel, Llanelli, in 1893. He joined up in 1914, leaving his job as a steelworker, and quickly rose up to the rank of sergeant. He survived the war and returned home to Llanelli, but was unemployed for some time. Eventually he found work with the local council, where he once again rose through the ranks and became a head of department.

In the Second World War he joined the Home Guard, serving as a Company Sergeant-Major.
Rees was a fairly common surname in the district, and the locals used to refer to Rees the Postman, Rees the Baker, and Rees the VC.

He died at Tyisha, Llanelli, on 12 March 1967, and was buried at Morriston Cemetery. He has memorials at Havard Chapel, Llanelli Town Hall, Brecon Cathedral, and there is now a garden, dedicated to his memory, in his home town.

His Victoria Cross is proudly on display at the The Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh, Brecon (South Wales Borderers Collection).

By Medwyn Parry


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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The National Eisteddfod of Wales: Carmarthenshire, 1–9 August





The Maes looking splendid in preparation for next week’s event.
Next week, the Royal Commission will be joining other Welsh heritage bodies at this year’s National Eisteddfod in Llanelli. Throughout the week, staff will be on hand to answer enquiries and chat to visitors.  Come and visit us in heritage row (stand 601-603), where you will also find Cadw, the National Museum Wales, and Dyfed, & Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trusts. This year’s new exhibition will focus on the centenary of the First World War and the successful Britain from Above collaborative project. Highlights will include a talk by Dr Eurwyn Wiliam, Chairman of the Royal Commission, on Friday  8 August at 10.30am in Pabell y Cymdeithasau 2, on recent Commission discoveries in Dyfed: Darganfod hanes Dyfed: darganfyddiadau diweddar Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru ac eraill. A new collaborative quiz has been arranged by Cadw, with ten questions based on information easily retrievable from the stands of the four heritage bodies, with a prize of a year’s free family Cadw membership. Come along and have a try!



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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Community Archaeologist works with YAC






I have been involved with the Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) for a few years now as an assistant leader. The recent work and training I have been doing with the Royal Commission has allowed me to put all these skills into practice with YAC.

YAC is the only UK-wide club for young people aged up to 17 interested in archaeology. The club is run by the Council for British Archaeology; an educational charity working for over 65 years to promote ‘Archaeology for All’. YAC’s vision is for all young people to have opportunities to be inspired and excited by archaeology, and to empower them to help shape its future.

YAC was started 40 years ago in August 1972 by Dr Kate Pretty. Its name then was Young Rescue and it was the junior branch of RESCUE, the British Archaeological Trust. Initially it was just going to be based in Cambridge but after publicity in The Times it was launched as a national club.

Last week I led a session for the Swansea YAC on oral histories and I thought you might like to see what we got up to.

I started the session with a presentation on Oral History, which included interview techniques and how to use the recording equipment. We then put this into practice by interviewing grandparents, parents and each other about growing up and living in Swansea.



In previous sessions we had been working on a First World War theme, which we then continued with in the second half of the session. I had brought in a First World War themed handling collection including letters, postcards and artefacts, which we scanned. I also brought in Ordnance Survey maps from the period and modern ones along with aerial photographs and they had a great time comparing everything. We finished the session by making poppy wreaths.

I’ve also been very busy preparing events for the Festival of Archaeology – you can find more details here: http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/whatson/results

By Sarahjayne Clements.


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