Amgueddfa Cymru

Hafan

This blog is about fossils whose beautiful patterns have intrigued us for as long as we’ve been human. These animals survived the evolutionary power struggles of the past to leave their relatives in today’s oceans. They are the Sea Urchins, or to give them their scientific name, the Family Echinoidea - Echinoids to their friends.

 

A ‘Hedgehog’ by name, but not by nature

Their name comes from the Greek ‘Echinus’, meaning Hedgehog, because of their spines. People in the Middle Ages had the idea that each kind of land animal had a matching version living in the sea; sea-horses, sea-cows, and so on. So the spiky Echinoid was naturally called a Sea-Hedgehog. This might sound daft today, but we still call the Echinoids’ cousins “Starfish” though we know they’re nothing to do with fish at all !

 

Like little armoured aliens

The bodies of echinoids are really strange, almost like something from science-fiction. Being covered in massive spiny stilts you can walk on is weird enough, but inside their box of a shell they’re even more peculiar. They have a multi-purpose organ called the water vascular system. It’s a central bag of fluid connected to five lobes which lead to many tiny tubes coming out through pores in the shell. These are its tube-feet. It can move them around by changing the pressure inside the bag. They’re very handy for dragging itself along the sea floor, sensing the surroundings, and for getting food to its mouth. Some burrowing echinoids can even stick a tube foot up above the sand to get oxygen from the water.

Their basic body plan has proved to be very well adapted to a life of sea-bed scavenging. They move along like armoured tanks eating up whatever they can find; mostly algae, but their set of five toothed jaws can deal with a varied diet.

 

Cherished by the Ancients

The beautiful shells of echinoids have fascinated humans for a very long time indeed, maybe because they’re so different from other animals on the planet. Most animals have just one line of symmetry and an even number of limbs. But echinoids and their cousins the starfish can show star-like five-fold symmetry.

We know that this struck many people in the past. Ken McNamara gives the following two examples in his book “The star-crossed Stone” about the rich folklore of echinoids.

The oldest example of a collected and labelled fossil, is an echinoid with Egyptian hieroglyphics inscribed on it about 4000 years ago. It was found “in the south of the quarry of Sopdu, by the god’s father Tja-Nefer”. Sopdu was called the god of the morning star - he was a kind of border-guard god, and it’s been suggested that echinoids were important to the Egyptians in some way in their travels to the afterlife.

But human fascination with echinoids stretches back much, much further than that; long enough for the great ice sheets to have advanced and retreated across Britain four times since. About four hundred thousand years ago in what is now Kent, someone chose to make a tool from a flint containing a fossil echinoid. Most flint tools have two cutting edges, but this one may have been left unfinished on purpose. If the maker had chipped the flint to make the other edge, the fossil would have been destroyed. What is amazing is that this person was not a Homo sapiens like you or I, but either a Homo heidelbergensis or a very early Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis). Other humans were collecting fossils before members of our own species left Africa.

Trevor Bailey, Senior Curator – Palaeontology. This blog was adapted from a gallery tour I gave at the National Museum Cardiff.

The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea’s current exhibition “Forget me not: Postcards from the First World War” features a fantastic selection of all types of postcards from the industry & transport, and social & cultural history collections. One case tells the amazing, but tragic, story of Captain Anthony Starkey of the S.S. Torrington.  

Captain Anthony Starkey was master of the S.S. Torrington. The ship was built in 1905 by William Doxford & Sons of Sunderland and was owned by the Tatem Steam Navigation Company of Cardiff.

On the 8 April 1917 the ship was sailing from Italy to Cardiff to load coal for the Italian railways. Shortly after 11.30am she was torpedoed by a German submarine, 150 miles off the Isles of Scilly. The torpedo hit forward of the bridge. A submarine then surfaced and opened fire on the ship. Capt. Starkey ordered his men into the lifeboats, but the submarine came alongside. Capt. Starkey was ordered below deck of the U-boat, which he did thinking he could save his men. Some of the crew went on the deck of the U-boat, whilst others remained in a lifeboat. The captain of the U-boat then ordered the vessel to dive remarking that “the others could swim”. Through the submerging of the U-boat about 20 member of the Torrington’s crew were washed off and killed. The remaining crew in the lifeboat were never heard of again. In total thirty four members of the crew were killed and Capt. Starkey was the only survivor.

Capt. Starkey was held prisoner aboard the submarine for fifteen days. He was then held in four different prisoner of war camps in Germany, including Brandenburg, Holminden, and Strohenmoor. Prisoners were poorly treated in these camps, and Capt. Starkey commented that “We would have starved if it had not been for the food we received from home. We were there for two months and a half on German rations and looked like shadows when the time was up. Then food began to arrive from home and we certainly enjoyed that. The food in the camps was always potato soup, not always good potatoes, cabbage soup and some bread.”

During his time in the various prisoner of war camps Capt. Starkey put together a ‘scrap album’. This album contains over 55 postcards and photographs, along with German bank notes, and documents such as ration cards, camp theatre tickets, letters and telegrammes.  Some of these photographs show everyday life in the camps, such as meal times and entertainment. This album in on display in the current exhibition, along with other photographs, and two newspaper cuttings pasted onto the back board of another scrap book. These describe the whole story in detail.

“Forget me not: Postcards from the First World War” runs until the 19th June 2016 at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

To discover more about the First World War collections at Amgueddfa Cymru view this online catalogue.

 

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

 

Adeiladwyd Y Garreg Fawr yn y Waunfawr yn 1544, ac mae yn enghrifft dda o’r math o dŷ a oedd yn gyffredin yn ardal Eryri. Yn ystod y cyfnod yma tai fel hyn oedd tai mwyaf crand y wlad, a sail ein cartrefi ni heddiw. Cyn canol yr unfed ganrif ar bymtheg roedd y Cymry cyfoethog yn byw mewn neuaddau pren unllawr. Rhannwyd hwythau i mewn i dri rhan: yn un pen roedd llaethdy a phantri, ac yn y pen arall oedd yr ystafell wely (y solar). Rhwng y ddau oedd y neuadd – sef ystafell fyw gyda lle tân agored yn y canol. Mae’r Garreg Fawr yn cynrychioli ymadawiad chwyldroadol o’r cynllun canol-oesol gynt, gan gyflwyno nifer o elfennau newydd. Wrth ddewis adeiladugyda cherrig yn lle coed, roedd modd codi dwy simdde effeithiol – un ar bob pen y tŷ. Gan bod y mŵg yn gallu gadael trwy’r ddwy simdde roedd modd creu ail lawr cynnes, di-fŵg, yn y gofod a arferai fod yn llawn mŵg a parddu.

Enwyd Y Garreg Fawr ar ôl y garreg oedd yn brigo i’r wyneb y tu ôl i’r tŷ. Mae ‘Mawr’ yn enw cyffredin ar y tai yma, er enghraifft Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant a Tŷ Mawr Nantlle. Mae’r defnydd o’r gair yn tynnu sylw tuag at safon yr adeiladau, ac hefyd eu maint - oherwydd roedd adeiladau deulawr yn dal yn anghyffredin. Yn fwy pwysig fyth, roedd yn denu sylw tuag at statws y perchnogion o fewn y gymdeithas leol.

Mae’r Garreg Fawr yn un o nifer cymharol fach o dai Eryri sydd wedi goroesi, ac oherwydd hynny o bwysigrwydd cenedlaethol. Erbyn 1976 roedd y tŷ crand yn cael ei ddefnyddio fel sgubor, ac wedi dirywio cymaint fel yr oedd bron yn amhosib ei adnabod. Ar y pryd yr unig ffordd o achub yr adeilad oedd ei symud yn gorfforol - carreg wrth garreg - 165 milltir i Amgueddfa Werin Cymru yn Sain Ffagan, lle cafodd ei ail-adeiladu. Ddeugain mlynedd yn hwyrach mae’r tŷ yng nghanol gwaith adnewyddu.

Gwnaeth ymchwiliad diweddar nodi fod wyneb mewnol y waliau wedi cael ei rendrio gyda sement adeg ei ail-godi. Nid ydym yn ystyried y dechneg yma yn un addas erbyn hyn, ac mae gwaith wedi cychwyn i dynnu’r sement a gosod morter calch yn ei le. Wedi’r newid bydd waliau Y Garreg Fawr yn gallu ‘anadlu’ yn well, a dylai fod yn iawn am sawl canrif arall. Mae’r tŷ yn awr wedi cau am rai misoedd nes i’r gwaith adfer ei gwblhau.

Bydd Amgueddfa Cymru yn dyfarnu Tystysgrifau Gwyddonwyr Gwych i can pedwardeg o ysgolion ar draws y DU, i gydnabod eu cyfraniad i Ymchwiliad Bylbiau’r Gwanwyn.

Llongyfarchiadau anferth i bob un o’r ysgolion!

Diolch i bob un o’r 4,907 disgybl a helpodd eleni! Diolch am weithio mor galed yn plannu, arsylwi, mesur a chofnodi – rydych chi i gyd yn Wyddonwyr Gwych! Bydd pob un yn derbyn tystysgrif a phensel Gwyddonydd Gwych, ac fe fyddan nhw’n cyrraedd eich ysgol tua canol mis Mai.

Diolch yn fawr i Ymddiriedolaeth Edina am eu nawdd ac am helpu i wireddu’r holl  broject!

Enillwyr 2016:

Bydd pob un yn derbyn trip ysgol llawn atyniad natur.

Ysgol Pentrefoelas - Cymru

Biggar Primary – Yr Alban

Carnforth Primary - Lloegr

Yn ail a trydydd:

Ysgol Nant y Coed - Cymru

Severn Primary - Cymru

Abbey Primary School - Yr Alban

St. John the Baptist Primary School – Yr Alban

St. Nicholas' Primary School - Lloegr

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School - Lloegr

Clod uchel:

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

Cydnabyddiaeth arbennig:

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

Ysgolion i dderbyn tystysgrifau:

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

St.Brigid's

Swiss Valley C.P. School

Tongwynlais Primary School

Whitelees Primary School

Ysgol Coed y Gof

Ysgol Ffridd y Llyn

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn

Ysgol Mair

Ysgol Pencae

Diolch i chi am eich holl waith caled Cyfeillion Gwanwyn,

Athro'r Ardd

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.  
    

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.    
     

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.  

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.