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Friday, 20 December 2013

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Llun o olygfa aeafol ger Llandrindod a dynnwyd gan y Comisiwn Brenhinol yn 2013.

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Friday, 13 December 2013

News from our Community Archaeologists: The CAER Heritage Project

Kimberly and I have been extremely busy over the past few weeks so we thought it was time to update you on some of our recent activities.

We have been working with the CAER Heritage Project (Caerau and Ely Rediscovering Heritage Project) in West Cardiff.  Archaeologists from Cardiff University are working with Ely and Caerau Communities First, local residents and schools to explore the history and archaeology of the area.  The project runs all kinds of activities, and we were fortunate enough to be involved with a guided walk around the magnificent Caerau Iron Age hillfort, which forms the focus of many of the activities.
Guided walk led by Oliver Davies of Cardiff University showing the community archaeologists and members of the local community around the hill fort.
Kimberly and I also helped with the CAER project exhibition and I helped out on the day with the stand at the Peace75 Festival held at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff to celebrate its 75th anniversary.  This was a great event, I spoke with lots of people about the project, asking them to consider the debate about whether hillforts were places where people came together to show their community identities or whether they were defensive structures, and I had a fun time designing Iron Age tribal symbols with children, and writing ‘postcards to the Iron Age’ asking what life was like back then.

Sarahjayne explaining about the CAER project.
Sarahjayne working with children to create Iron Age tribal symbols and ‘postcards to the past’
As part of our time with the project we also attended the Engage Conference  in Bristol, which was focussed on public engagement and partnerships.  Here we helped facilitate a workshop on the creation of funding bids.  Our placement with the Commission has provided us with many training opportunities and I have recently completed courses on project planning and ‘building effective relationships’.

Engage Conference
There are also lots more activities to report, including a session I set up for the Young Archaeologists Club in Swansea with Swansea Metal Detecting Club, who came to talk about responsible metal detecting and how this works within Archaeology.
Sarahjayne with Mike Davies and members of YAC looking at Mike’s collection and asking lots of questions!
The Young Archaeologists learning how to use metal detectors
Finally, we have been organising a workshop event for Pembrokeshire College Welsh Baccalaureate students as part of our joint shipwrecks project with CADW on the Charles Holmes and the Great Gale of 1859. This is due to take place in January, and we will let you know how it goes.

By S. Clements

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Friday, 6 December 2013

Royal Charter Voyage Journal of Reverend Charles Hodge – where is it now?

Searching the newspaper accounts relating to the loss of the Royal Charter during the storm of 25-26th October 1859, we’ve come across an article quoting from the journal of a Nottinghamshire parson who travelled home from Melbourne on board the ill-fated vessel.

Storm map
We created an item on The People’s Collection Wales for the Great Gale of 1859 collection featuring the journal and have received a comment asking if there is a full transcription. This has led us to try and find out where it might be now.

Rev Hodge’s diary was found washed up on shore and extracts from it were published in the Pontypool Free Press and Aberystwyth Observer to encourage his relatives to come forward. The newspaper article says that the diary is five inches in length by three in breadth; and contained many interesting facts relative to the ship, incidents on board and items of news from Melbourne. There was even a prayer for safe passage on his journey on the Royal Charter.  Inside the front cover, it was inscribed ‘Rev. C. Hodge, East Retford, Notts., England.’

Interestingly, the Hodge family featured on one of the BBC’s ‘Who do you think you are?’ programmes in 2010. TV gardening expert Monty Don found that Charles Hodge was his great-great -grandfather. Hodge was born at Stogumber, Somerset, in 1812 and had 11 children by his wife Anne.  After the death of one of their infants, Anne made a decision to travel alone to New Zealand to stay with distant relatives. It was an extraordinarily brave for a lone woman. Perhaps worn down by childbearing, Anne saw an opportunity to escape by acquiring vast tracks of land in Australia and New Zealand, and offering them to clergymen willing to emigrate. Anne may have viewed herself as the family’s pioneering settler. She returned for a period and appears to have been reconciled with her husband. Then, leaving 5 of their children behind and taking 4 of their sons with them, the couple emigrated in 1856. Charles was returning home as a result of an edict from his bishop after two years absence in 1859. His journal reveals that he was still torn between the relatively secure life of an English country parson and the prospect of having to carve out a new life down under.

Our research has found out that there is a portrait and a memorial to Charles Hodge in Clarborough Church, Nottinghamshire, and two letters from Charles Hodge to his diocese in the University of Nottingham Archives (Doc refs: Wr C 355-6).

However, the Journal itself continues to elude us.

Are you a descendant of one of Charles and Anne’s nine children? Has the journal survived the years tucked away amongst family papers?

We would love to hear from you in Wales...

Follow this link to the ‘Great Storm of 1859’ collection on People’s Collection Wales to find out more about the ships, the people and coastal communities affected by the hurricane:

By S. Clements and D. Groom

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Meithrin y Genhedlaeth Nesaf o Ymchwilwyr Medrus

Y Comisiwn Brenhinol fydd un o’r cyrff a fydd yn elwa ar grant sylweddol gan Gyngor Ymchwil y Celfyddydau a’r Dyniaethau (AHRC) i hybu hyfforddiant ac ymchwil ôl-raddedig.

Roeddem yn rhan o gynnig a gyflwynwyd gan yr wyth prifysgol (gan gynnwys Aberystwyth a Chaerdydd, a chyrff eraill sydd â phrofiad helaeth o ymchwil ym meysydd archaeoleg a hanes) sy’n perthyn i Gonsortiwm y De, y Gorllewin a Chymru. Bu’r cynnig yn llwyddiannus, a dyfarnwyd £14.2 filiwn i’r Consortiwm. Bydd hyn yn cynnal oddeutu 200 o ysgoloriaethau ymchwil ôl-radd dros gyfnod o bum mlynedd, gan ddechrau yn y flwyddyn academaidd nesaf. Bydd yn darparu cymorth arloesol i raddedigion drwy roi cyfle iddynt feithrin medrau ehangach wrth gael profiad o weithio y tu allan i’r byd academaidd ar leoliadau diwydiannol a rhyngwladol.

Dywedodd yr Athro Rick Rylance, Prif Weithredwr yr AHRC: “Dyma gam cyntaf pwysig a fydd yn galluogi myfyrwyr ôl-raddedig yn y celfyddydau a’r dyniaethau i gael yr hyfforddiant a chymorth gorau posibl, ac a fydd yn arwain at ddatblygu dull o gydweithio sy’n cyfuno arbenigedd ac yn ehangu gorwelion yr ymchwilwyr. Rydyn ni’n hynod falch o’r ffordd mae’r sector, a phartneriaid y tu hwnt i’r sector, wedi ymateb, ac edrychwn ymlaen at weithio’n agos gyda nhw i gefnogi’r genhedlaeth nesaf.”

Bydd y Comisiwn yn cyfrannu drwy gynnig profiad gwaith a hyfforddiant i fyfyrwyr ôl-raddedig yn y meysydd lle y mae gennym arbenigedd. Y flwyddyn nesaf, byddwn yn ystyried sut y gallwn ddatblygu cyfleoedd pwysig ar gyfer prosiectau ymchwil cydweithredol a sut y gallant gyd-fynd orau â’n gwaith, a’r Cofnod Henebion Cenedlaethol.

I ddarganfod mwy am y grant hwn, ewch i wefan yr AHRC.

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Friday, 29 November 2013

Y Comisiwn Brenhinol yn Croesawu Ysgrifennydd Newydd

Mae Ysgrifennydd y Comisiwn Brenhinol, Dr Peter Wakelin, yn gadael ar ôl wyth mlynedd i ymgymryd â swydd y Cyfarwyddwr Casgliadau ac Ymchwil yn Amgueddfa Cymru.

Ar ôl gweithio fel Arolygydd Henebion ac Adeiladau Hanesyddol gyda Cadw ac yna fel Pennaeth yr Uned Adfywio yng Nghyfarwyddiaeth Cymunedau Llywodraeth Cymru, mae Peter wedi gwneud cyfraniad nodedig i waith y Comisiwn Brenhinol. Treuliodd lawer o’i amser yn ystod y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf yn cymryd rhan yn y trafodaethau ar yr uno posibl â Cadw, yr ydym yn disgwyl penderfyniad arno gan ein gweinidog noddi, John Griffiths AC, yn gynnar iawn yn y Flwyddyn Newydd. Arweiniodd Peter adolygiad ac ailstrwythuro strategol o’r sefydliad a sicrhaodd gryn ganmoliaeth i’r Comisiwn yn sgil dau adolygiad allanol mawr o’i waith. Rhoddodd hwb sylweddol i broffil cyhoeddus y sefydliad hefyd, wrth i lyfrau poblogaidd a llwyddiannus gael eu cyhoeddi ac i’r Comisiwn gymryd rhan mewn tair cyfres deledu Saesneg ac un Gymraeg.

Hilary Malaws
Mae’n dda gennym gyhoeddi i Mrs Hilary Malaws, Cyfarwyddwr Gwasanaethau’r Comisiwn Brenhinol, gael ei phenodi’n Ysgrifennydd Dros Dro am gyfnod o chwe mis i ddechrau. Erbyn hynny fe fydd y dyfodol yn fwy eglur.

Aelod hir-sefydledig o’r staff sydd â phrofiad helaeth ym meysydd llyfrgelloedd, archifau a rheoli gwybodaeth yw Hilary. Mae hi hefyd yn adnabyddus i lawer o’n partneriaid. Mae hi wedi arwain ymwneud y Comisiwn Brenhinol â’r prosiect Casgliad y Werin Cymru fel un o’r tri phartner a hefyd ein partneriaeth SWISH arloesol gyda Chomisiwn Brenhinol Henebion yr Alban, sy’n darparu sylfaen ar gyfer cyflwyno ein hadnoddau archifol a’n gwybodaeth ar-lein drwy Coflein a llwyfannau eraill.

Bydd Hilary yn dechrau yn ei swydd newydd fel Ysgrifennydd Dros Dro ar 1 Rhagfyr 2013. Wrth siarad am ei phenodiad, dywedodd:

“Mae’n fraint cael fy mhenodi’n Ysgrifennydd Dros Dro ac rydw i’n edrych ymlaen at weithio gyda’n Comisiynwyr, staff a phartneriaid i sicrhau bod popeth yn rhedeg yn llyfr ar yr adeg heriol yma. Staff ymroddedig y Comisiwn Brenhinol yw ein hased mwyaf ac rydw i wedi ymrwymo i sicrhau bod eu harbenigedd, ynghyd â’n swyddogaethau creiddiol, yn cael eu diogelu, gan ddarparu gwasanaeth ardderchog i’r sector ac i’r cyhoedd.”

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Picturing Powys: Iain Wright’s Photography for the Pevsner Architectural Guide

The Chancel of Brecon Cathredral
   NPRN: 96574

The Pevsner Architectural Guide to Powys is the last in a series of county guides to the architecture of Wales. It updates and extends its predecessor, published in 1979, as the first of the series. These Buildings of Wales volumes followed hard on the heels of a Buildings of England series, begun in the 1940s by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, and published between 1951 and 1974. Regarded as indispensable for the architectural traveller, the books set out to capture the architectural character of a county through a gazetteer of significant buildings accompanied by an introductory essay.

This is a big ambition for Powys, which covers a quarter of Wales and comprises three historical counties each with a distinctive identity of its own. The book makes a generous selection of buildings in a narrative sweep that  not only assigns a place to the architectural set-pieces and fine buildings, but also to the regional architectural traditions that perhaps more than anything else capture the character of the county. Together with the introductory essay, the photographs must convey this narrative, binding together architectural themes that might otherwise be lost in the detail of gazetteer.

The photographs in the book therefore form a single sequence arranged chronologically rather than geographically. They are intended to draw attention to buildings that have their own place in the story of architecture in the county, but which are also representative of broader themes.  They trace the development of building traditions from the earliest times, and highlight the work not only of architects, but also of the many un-named craftsmen whose skill enriches all our landscapes and townscapes.

Romanesque Tympanum at St Padarn’s Church,Llanbadarn Fawr, Radnorshire
   NPRN: 236

In the selection for this exhibition, for example, we see the inventiveness of twelfth-century stone carvers and sixteenth-century carpenters, of late seventeenth-century plasterers and twentieth-century stained-glass makers.  We see religious faith manifest in the tiny rural churches of Rhulen and Capel-y-ffin that seem to belong only to their immediate community, and in the simple interior of Maesyronnen chapel. By contrast, in Brecon’s soaring thirteenth-century priory church, in the gothick of Trefecca College, and the gothic revival church at Llangasty Tal-y-llyn, architecture reflects connections to much wider communities. The unique theatre of Craig-y-nos also reaches out to a world beyond the county: in plan it is a miniature Bayreuth.  We see architectural experimenters – from the unknown builder of Glanclydach cottages, to Henry Hanbury-Tracy trying out concrete at Gregynog, to rammed earth used stylishly in the WISE building at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

All this is a considerable challenge for the photographer. Iain had to translate the chronological list of sites into something that made logistical sense on the ground, creating vast maps plotting sites from north to south, west to east. He trawled maps and aerial photographs for additional information that would help him plan ahead – on orientation and sight-lines, for example. He had to track down contact details for every property, or cold-call and hope for a welcome. Iain has worked out some short-cuts – undertakers, for example, usually know who to talk to in churches and chapels. He was given this assignment in one of the wettest summers of recent years – he saved the interiors for rainy days. Not just the weather, but also the time of day is critical for exterior work. Iain always arrives on site early to give maximum time to catch the best light, or simply to set up the shots, but inevitably there are compromises – where conditions limit the choice of viewpoint for example.

Most of the interiors needed to be lit, and it can take up to five hours for a single shot such as a complicated (and dark) church interior.  Even a font takes an hour and a half, and Iain spent two days in Brecon cathedral for just eight shots. Power is not always available for lighting – the ornate interior at Llangasty Tal-y-llyn had to be done from a single socket on the pulpit. Cables and lighting units have to be positioned so that they can easily be removed from the shot in the post-production process if necessary – forward planning is essential.
All the work is tripod mounted, which makes it possible to produce composite images by layering in Photoshop: windows and interiors were usually done as separate frames. Using software to balance interior and exterior lighting can take several hours of patient work.  All told, Iain covered 120 sites in 20 days, by which time he had driven about 3,000 miles. This was followed by three weeks of post-production work. He uses a Canon IDS Mk III, with 12,000 watts of lighting, including two mains operated units and five transportable units. The tripod has 4-inch metal spikes for grass, with rubber feet to protect carpets and floors.

This work was done on behalf of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. The images here, all those in the book, and others taken during the course of this exercise are all in the National Monuments Record, and available to view through coflein www.coflein.gov.uk

Iain has worked for RCAHMW for 35 years. He is a fellow of the British Institute for Professional Photography.

“Picturing Powys”: an exhibition of Iain Wright’s Royal Commission photography for the Pevsner Architectural Guide will be on display from 30 November until mid-February 2014, in the Pen’rallt Gallery Bookshop, Heol Pen’ralt, Machynlleth.

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Gorffennol Digidol 2014

Mae Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru yn eich gwahodd i fynychu:

Gorffennol Digidol 2014
Technolegau newydd ym meysydd treftadaeth, dehongli ac estyn-allan

12fed a 13eg Chwefror 2014
Gwesty St George, Llandudno.

Cynhadledd ddeuddydd fydd Gorffennol Digidol ac ynddi fe arddangosir technolegau digidol arloesol ar gyfer dal, dehongli a lledaenu data am safleoedd ac arteffactau treftadaeth. Hon fydd y chweched flwyddyn, a chynhelir Gorffennol Digidol 2014 yn nhref glan môr Llandudno. Cynigir cyfuniad o bapurau, seminarau, gweithdai ymarferol ac arddangosiadau i ymchwilio i’r technegau arolygu a dehongli diweddaraf a’u cymhwyso’n ymarferol at ddehongli ac addysgu treftadaeth a sicrhau ei chadwraeth.

Bydd y gynhadledd o werth i unrhyw un sydd wrthi’n gweithio neu’n astudio yn y sector archaeoleg a’r sectorau treftadaeth, addysg ac amgueddfeydd. Y bwriad yw iddi fod yn fodd i rwydweithio a chyfnewid syniadau’n anffurfiol ymhlith cynulleidfa gyfeillgar ac amrywiol o unigolion o fyd masnach, o sefydliadau’r sector cyhoeddus ac o’r trydydd sector. Bydd sesiynau Tŷ Agored hefyd yn gyfle i arddangos prosiectau neu gynhyrchion ac i siarad â mudiadau treftadaeth, datblygwyr cynhyrchion a manwerthwyr.

Y themâu eleni yw ‘Arolygu Technegol’ a ‘Chanlyniadau’.

I gael gwybodaeth am y siaradwyr a’r rhaglen ewch i http://gorffennoldigidol14.blogspot.co.uk a dilynwch #gorffennoldigidol2014

Cost cofrestru am y ddau ddiwrnod yw £69, gan gynnwys cinio a lluniaeth ar y ddau ddiwrnod. I gofrestru ewch i https://www.eventbrite.co.uk

Gan fod nifer y lleoedd yn gyfyngedig, fe’ch cynghorir i gofrestru’n gynnar.

Edrychwn ymlaen at eich croesawu chi i gynhadledd Gorffennol Digidol 2014.
Tîm Gorffennol Digidol

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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Amlwch Age Well Society, Pembrokeshire Shipwrecks and Ynyslas Rocket Range

Helen Rowe, Royal Commission People’s Collection Officer, conducting a talk to the Age Well Society, Amlwch.

Last week we were pleased to be invited to join Amlwch Age Well History Society as part of our People’s Collection Wales outreach. The society has taken part in many interesting projects in the past and has made a valuable contribution to recording the town’s heritage. Samantha Jones, Community Archaeologist for the Royal Commission, has been helping the Age Well group with the project in Amlwch (a town with a rich mining heritage and vast copper-works) through the umbrella project Metal Links. Helen Rowe, Peoples Collection Wales Officer, travelled to Amlwch to give a talk on the various ways the People’s Collection Wales website can be used to publicise, share and disseminate the fantastic research collated by thriving local history groups such as Amlwch.  Sarahjayne and I were able to shadow this talk, and it was really good to watch the members engaging with the website. It was a success all round, with the members showing a genuine interest and enthusiasm towards the site and uploading their material.

Kimberly Briscoe and Sarahjayne Clements checking phone signal at Granston Church, Pembrokeshire.
Boats at Porthgain, Pembrokeshire.

The rest of the week was just as busy: on Monday we furthered our work with the Royal Commission/Cadw Shipwrecks Project by attending a promising meeting with Pembrokeshire Archives, who seem keen to be involved in researching shipwrecks on the Pembrokeshire coast and are keen to be able to offer their facilities to the local Welsh Baccalaureate students. After such a successful meeting we then undertook a recce of the areas of significance to the Charles Holmes shipwreck along the Aberbach and Abermawr coast. This was in the hope of locating a strong-enough phone signal for the use of a potential augmented reality app, intended for interpretation for coastal walkers. Despite our efforts, phone signals seem limited in this area for such internet- based applications; however it was still good to spend the afternoon investigating the coastline and there are certainly a variety of ways that technology can be used to make interpretation accessible to the public, and we are keen to explore them!
Wartime Observation Post, Ynyslas Dunes, Ceredigion.
The infamous Rocket  Range Test Track Base, Ynyslas, Ceredigion.
On Thursday I took a trip to Ynyslas National Nature Reserve with Medwyn Parry, the Royal Commission’s military specialist, to learn more about the military use of the Rocket Range, in preparation for my forthcoming project there. It was great to see the varied uses and understand the complexity of military strategy at Ynyslas. In the afternoon Sarahjayne and I visited Ysbyty Cynfyn Church (a site linked closely with the Metal Links project) to improve our skills in graveyard recording.

Kimberly Briscoe and Sarahjayne Clements, Community Archaeologists, recording gravestones at the churchyard at Ysbyty Cynfyn.
Finally, to end a week of travelling the length and breadth of Wales, I was able to attend two conferences. On Friday we attended the IFA Community Archaeology Day School in Machynlleth. It was a positive experience to see the variety and scale of community archaeology projects across Wales, and I heard some ‘amateur’ community archaeologists presenting their work and some of their fantastic achievements. It certainly provided some great ideas and interesting viewpoints to consider for our forthcoming projects!

On Saturday I was then able to accompany Toby Driver and Keith Haylock as they disseminated their new research on Grogwynion Hillfort (along with the use of the pXRF gun in archaeological investigations) to the Hillfort Study Group at Oxford University.

By:  Kimberly Briscoe 

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