Amgueddfa Cymru

Hafan

The word treasure can mean a lot of different things.  In Treasures: Adventure in Archaeology we are able to see the historical treasures that have been uncovered from archaeological excavations over the years.  But while the term can be applied widely to things that are important to us it also has a very technical, and legal, meaning.   

In the past it was not uncommon for people to bury their riches or cherished objects for safekeeping in times of trouble or as part of a ritual offerings.  While some of these buried objects were reclaimed by their owners, others were not.  Hundreds or thousands of years later, these objects have been found while ploughing farmland, building houses or by metal detecting.  There have been laws in England and Wales on how to deal with these discoveries for over a thousand years.  Common law defined treasure as anything made out of gold or silver.  It also had to be hidden with the intention of recovering it at a later time.  It was against the law to not report the discovery of potential treasure to the coroner and those not reporting finds could face fines or imprisonment.  In 1996, the Treasure Act was passed and expanded the range of precious metal objects, and any associated objects, protected.
Celc ceiniogau o’r canol oesoedd a ganfuwyd ger Llanandras yn Sir Drefaldwyn. Cyhoeddwyd yn ddiweddarach ei fod yn ‘drysor’.

Celc ceiniogau o’r canol oesoedd a ganfuwyd ger Llanandras yn Sir Drefaldwyn. Cyhoeddwyd yn ddiweddarach ei fod yn ‘drysor’.

In conjunction with the Treasure Act of 1996, the Portable Antiquities Scheme was implemented.  The aims of the PAS are to record important non-treasure archaeological objects and to highlight the importance of proper reporting of finds by the public.  For archaeologists, information doesn’t just come from an object.  The area where it was found, how it laid in the ground, what other objects were with it and other factors provide vital clues in understanding an object.  When things are accidentally discovered and then removed, that context is lost forever.  The hope is that with the PAS in place, those that come across finds will report them quickly, provide as much of the other contextual clues as possible or, better yet, leave them in-situ (in the ground) and call PAS to help excavate them properly.   
 

For more information on the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, you can visit https://finds.org.uk/treasure.

 

 

Women's History Month is deeply rooted in the suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  To highlight the need for equality, it was vital to show the contributions that women had made throughout history and continued to make in current times.  In celebration of Women's History Month, and in conjunction with Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology, we take a look at some of the women who helped shape the discipline of archaeology.

Gertrude Bell was born in County Durham in 1868.  She was educated at home and went on the attend Oxford University where she earned a degree in history.  During a trip to Iran, she fell in love with the history and culture of the Middle East.  Becoming fluent in Arabic and Persian, she travelled extensively throughout the region, many times to places few Europeans had ever been.  During her trips, she would also carry out archaeological surveys of ruins and published several books.  Because of her unparalleled knowledge of the Middle East, when the First World War began she took a job with British Intelligence in the Arab Bureau in Cairo.  While there she worked with fellow adventurer and archaeologist T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).  In the post war years Bell became deeply involved in the formation of Iraq and Jordan as independent nations.  She had a close relationship with King Faisal of Iraq and Syria and in 1922 the new government appointed her Director of Antiquities.  In this role, Bell became a passionate supporter of artefacts remaining in their original countries, not in European collections, and to combat this she wrote the Laws of Excavation, which gave protection to archaeological sites in Iraq, and established the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad.   Recently a movie, Queen of the Desert, was made of Bell’s life starring Nicole Kidman. 

Tessa (Verney) Wheeler was born in Johannesburg in 1893.  The family relocated to England and Tessa read history at University College London.  While there she met her future husband, Mortimer Wheeler, who would become a preeminent archaeologist.  After graduating, Tessa move to Cardiff where her husband had taken up the position of Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales.  During their time there, Tessa and Mortimer carried out extensive excavations at Roman sites such as Segontium (Caernarfon) and Y Gaer (Brecon).  Just as they were preparing to begin excavating at Caerleon, Mortimer was appointed Keeper at the London Museum.  Instead of abandoning the project, Tessa took over the excavation.  Early in her career she was often overshadowed by her husband but in later life she was recognised for her fieldwork and the contributions she made to the ‘Wheeler team’.      

Turkish archaeologist Halet Çambel was a woman of many talents.  Born in Berlin in 1916, she had taken up fencing as a child and became the first Muslim woman to compete in the Olympics as part of the 1936 Turkish fencing team.  She famously declined an invitation to meet Adolph Hitler.  She then attended the Sorbonne in Paris where she read archaeology and the languages of Hittite, Assyrian and Hebrew.  She spent most of her career excavating in Turkey and spent over 50 years working at Karatepe, a Hittite stronghold.  She created the department of Prehistoric Archaeology at Istanbul University and in 2004 was awarded the Prince Claus Award, which is presented to those “whose cultural actions have a positive impact on the development of their societies.”    

A person doesn’t have to be a trained expert to have an impact on archaeology.  Take for example, Edith Pretty.  Born in 1883, Edith’s family saw the value in education, especially education via travel.  Throughout her many travels, she was able to see archaeological excavations in progress.  Her father also had an interest in archaeology and was given permission to excavate a Cistercian Abbey near their home in Cheshire.  Having inherited money, she bought land in Suffolk and moved there with her husband.  The property held several burial mounds which did not appear to have been excavated.  Edith and her husband often wondered what may lie beneath the mounds but Edith wanted any excavations to be done using the most up to date scientific methods.  In 1937, she contacted the Ipswich Museum and requested the mounds be excavated.  Two years later, the largest of the mounds produced one of the most important archaeological finds, the Sutton Hoo burial.  She gifted the finds to the British Museum where they are on display.   

These are but a few of the women who have contributed to archaeology.  For more information, please visit http://trowelblazers.com/

Mae Archwilio eich Archif yn ymgyrch ar y cyd rhwng Yr Archifau Cenedlaethol a’r Gymdeithas Archifau a Chofnodion ar draws y DU ac Iwerddon. Y bwriad yw dangos potensial unigryw archifau i gyffroi pobl, dod â chymunedau ynghyd ac adrodd straeon anhygoel.

Y llynedd cynhaliodd staff Amgueddfa Cymru ddigwyddiad Archwilio eich Archif am y tro cyntaf. Cafodd ei gynnal yn Sefydliad Oakdale, Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru, gyda detholiad o ddogfennau a ffotograffau yn ymwneud â Chymru a’r Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf i gyd-fynd â lansiad ein catalog Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf ar-lein. Gallwch chwilio’r catalog yma.

Roedd yn ddigwyddiad poblogaidd, gydag oedolion a grwpiau ysgolion yn mwynhau gweld y deunydd archif hanesyddol a chael trafod eu hanes gyda’r staff sy’n edrych ar ôl y casgliadau. Yn dilyn llwyddiant y digwyddiad, rydym yn trefnu un arall eleni. Bydd ‘Darganfod Cymru: Hanes ar Stepen y Drws’ yn cael ei gynnal ar 20-21 Tachwedd ym mhrif neuadd Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd, Parc Cathays. Y thema eleni fydd teithio a thwristiaeth a bydd detholiad o ddeunydd archif o’n casgliadau i’w gweld, yn cynnwys ffotograffau, ffilmiau, cardiau post, llythyrau a llyfrau nodiadau, gyda chyfle i chi eu trafod gyda’r tîm sy’n curadu, rheoli a gwarchod y casgliadau archif. Eleni hefyd bydd cyfres o ddigwyddiadau i blant, gyda chyfle iddynt greu eu cardiau post eu hunain i’w harddangos yn y brif neuadd, neu afael yn y chwyddwydr a’n helpu ni i adnabod enwau a lleoliadau anhysbys o’r casgliadau ffotograffig! Bydd hefyd lwybr Archwilio eich Archif i’w ddilyn o gwmpas yr Amgueddfa.

Gobeithio y gallwch ymuno. Mae mwy o fanylion yma.

 

Roedd Palas yr Esgob yn Henffordd yn neuadd fawreddog un tro, a gan i’r gwaith adeiladu ddechrau ym 1180 mae’n rhoi cipolwg prin i ni ar dechnegau’r cyfnod. Yr wythnos diwethaf fe es i a rhai o’m cydweithwyr, i’r Palas i weld yr un cwpwl siap bwa sydd wedi goroesi hyd heddiw, ynghudd yn yr atig.

Un o brosiectau diweddaraf Sain Ffagan yw ail-greu un o lysoedd Tywysogion Gwynedd. Sâf y llys gwreiddiol yn Rhosyr, ger Niwbwrch ar Ynys Môn ers y drydedd ganrif ar ddeg. Roedd yn un o 22 llys a ddefnyddiwyd gan Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn Fawr) er mwyn cyflawni ei ddyletswyddau gweinyddol ym mhob ardal. Adfail yw’r llys bellach a phrin yw’r dystiolaeth o ffrâm bren y to, ac felly gwnaed ymchwil helaeth er mwyn creu cynllun addas i’r ail-greuad. Roedd tystiolaeth un sylfaen postyn ynghyd ag ardaloedd gwahanol o gerrig pafin yn awgrymu bod dwy rês o byst pren yn y brif neuadd yn rhannu’r neuadd ar ei hyd, gan greu ‘corff’ canolog a dwy ‘eil’ i’r naill ochr. Byddai’n rhaid angori pyst pren tal fel y rhain er cadernid, a dyma’r rheswm dros ein hymweliad â Henffordd. Y bwriad yw ail-greu’r dechneg fframio drwy ddefnyddio trawstiau angori bwaog tebyg, fydd yn ffurfio pendistiau cryf i ddal distiau’r to. Mae’r trawst bwaog bron mor fawreddog heddiw ag yr oedd yn anterth y neuadd.

Roedd safon y gwaith ym 1168 yn uchel iawn, a gallwch chi weld y cerfio cain ar bennau’r colofnau a’r stydwaith ar ochr uchaf y carn-tro. Rhaid nodi’r pren ei hun hefyd, gan taw dim ond breuddwydio am goed o’r maint all seiri heddiw. Crëwyd dau hanner y cwpwl o un boncyff crwm, a fyddai’n hynod o brin heddiw, ac mae’r golofn gron ger gwaelod y bwa wedi’i cherfio o’r un boncyff â’r trawst sgwâr y tu ôl iddi, sy’n galw am goeden trwchus dros ben. Er bod safon y gwaith yn uchel iawn, rhaid nodi hefyd bod rhai wedi amau y dechneg. Yn English Historic Carpentry (1980) dywedodd Cecil A. Hewett bod hyn yn ‘saernïaeth wael... lluniwyd esiampl Henffordd i safon uchel, ond gwelir y safon yn hollti medrus y pren a manyldeb y ffitio yn unig. Fel y dangosir, mae’r uniadau mor wan, prin y gellir eu galw’n uniadau...’

Ond, mae Palas yr Esgob yn dal i sefyll 835 mlynedd yn ddiweddarach er gwaethaf y ‘saernïaeth wael’. Wedi dychwelyd o Henffordd, yr her i mi yw ail-greu’r cynllun yn ein neuadd ni gan godi dwy ar bymtheg o drawstiau angori hanner cylch i ddal to gwellt Llys Rhosyr. Bydd y cyfan ar raddfa lai, ond y gobaith yw y bydd dau denon cudd ar frig y bwa yn cryfhau’r uniad, tra’n cynnal yr edrychiad traddodiadol.

For the last five years, St Fagans National History Museum has been a partner in the EU Culture-funded project, OpenArch.

OpenArch is an exciting project which aims to raises standards of management, interpretation and visitor interaction in those open-air museums that focus on Europe’s early history – archaeological open-air museums (AOAMs) as they have become known. AOAMs can be found right across Europe, bringing to life everything from Stone Age campsites to Iron Age farms, Roman forts and medieval towns. Their great strength is in the way in which they present their stories, often through detailed reconstructions and live interpretation.

The partners in this project are:

 

Archaeological-Ecological Centre Albersdorf, Germany

Archeon, Netherlands

C.I. De Calafell, Catalonia

EXARC, Netherlands

Exeter University, UK

Fotevikens Museum, Sweden

Hunebedcentrum, Netherlands

Kierikki Stone Age Village, Finland

Parco Archeologico e Museo all’aperto della Terramara di Montale, Italy

Viminacium, Serbia

 

And, of course, St Fagans National History Museum.

 

The project itself consists of three main strands: conferences and workshops, staff exchanges and activities.

Almost all the partners have hosted conferences related to the main area they are covering in the project: management practices, visitor interaction, craft work, scientific studies and communication, among others. Many of these have attracted large audiences and all have been stimulating opportunities to share new ideas.

Staff exchanges have also been a key method of strengthening links between the partner organisations, with practitioners spending time working in one another’s institutions to help share best practice.

The activities that partners have undertaken have, of course, been very varied. For example, visitor surveys have been undertaken to help us understand how well we are serving the public, and scientific studies have been carried out to learn more about how life was lived in the past and how this can be shown to the public.

 

What has St Fagans done?

St Fagans has benefited tremendously from the project. Over the course of the last five years, around twenty members of staff from all parts of the museum have had the opportunity to see how their colleagues in other museums go about their work. It’s been a chance to share what we do well, and learn from others. On one exchange visit, staff from our Events team were able to see how public activities were organised by our partners at Archeon in the Netherlands. On another, our Iron Age learning facilitator helped out on an Iron Age themed event in Calafell, Spain. The experience has certainly given us a better appreciation of the benefits of European working and has helped us to develop further ideas for collaborative working with European partners.

Throughout the project we have been using the experience we’ve gained in OpenArch to improve the quality of the new Iron Age farmhouses which we’ve been building. For example, we learnt from the very high standards of interior display demonstrated by our colleagues in Modena in Italy and adopted their standards in the choice of display items; while the work of the Hunebedcentrum in the Netherlands helped in suggesting ways that we could improve our building maintenance programmes. Along the way we’ve shared what we’ve learnt and how we’ve applied it in presentations at conferences run by the partners.

Perhaps the high point of our involvement in the project was the conference that we ran in May 2015. We used this to focus the project on issues relating to the management of archaeological open-air museums, and over three days we looked at issues both theoretical and practical in the company of a very distinguished selection of speakers from across Europe.

 

Alongside the conference we ran a craft festival as a major public event – the first of its kind to be held at St Fagans in many years. Over the course of a packed day, we hosted around 50 craftspeople from across Wales and the UK, including colleagues from our partner museums who were with us on staff exchange. Together they put on a great show, demonstrating everything from metalworking to pot-making, leatherwork, painting, food preparation and lots more. Over 5,000 visitors came to visit and feedback was excellent.

More information about our involvement in OpenArch can be found on the project website: openarch.eu.