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#LoveMaps – Huw Thomas

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events - Posted 15-02-2018

Huw Thomas, Map Curator at The National Library of Wales takes part in our #LoveMaps Campaign.

The most boring map in the World

When tasked with choosing four maps from the National Library’s map collection to write about I was left with something of a dilemma, the easy option would be to go for some of the famous treasures, however, previous #LoveMaps contributors have already used many of these and those that are left may well excite the interest of future contributors.

So, what to choose? Well, I decided to go for some items which were slightly different and also to try to stick to a theme and what better theme than the Welsh Government’s chosen theme for the year 2018 The Sea.

The National Map Collection holds a large number of fascinating nautical charts, but my first choice is not a nautical chart it is an aeronautical chart. A map for navigating by air and this gives a clue as to why someone would produce a map with absolutely no features on it at all.

This featureless stretch of the Earth’s surface is part of the Pacific Ocean, there are no islands or other features to show where we are, and we are reliant on the titling and coordinate system to provide our location. This is, of course, the whole purpose of this map; it is designed to allow pilots and navigators to plot their course and position accurately on the map, when there are no features on the ground below to allow them to get their bearings. To be able to do this is vital if one is to reach dry land safely when crossing such a vast distance as the Pacific Ocean. Dead reckoning over such a long distance would almost inevitably lead to missing land (which could be a tiny atoll in the midst of the ocean) and then running out of fuel and ditching in the sea, with virtually no chance of being rescued.

Accurate locational information would have been vital during the Second World War when this chart was made. Aircraft flying from the US carrier fleets would need to be able to find their way to the enemy ships and home again without getting lost. Long-range scout planes would need to be able to plot the position of enemy ships in order to relay this information to the carrier groups.
During the Falklands War in 1982 the Royal Air Force was tasked with bombing the airfield outside Port Stanley, in order to do this they needed to fly their Vulcan bombers from Ascension Island to the Falklands a round trip of over 12,000 Kilometres. As nobody had ever expected to need to do this there were no aeronautical charts available of the South Atlantic, so the navigators had to use charts of the Northern hemisphere turned upside down in order to plot their course, with the Azores standing in for the Falklands.

In today’s world most air navigation relies on radio navigation aids and satellite positioning systems, but when such systems fail being able to work out where you are on a map, especially in the middle of an ocean, is still a valuable skill to possess.

So even this most featureless and boring of maps was a useful tool at the time it was produced and as such perhaps it is not as boring as at first it may seem.

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#LoveMaps – Gerald Morgan

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events - Posted 08-02-2018

Gerald Morgan, Historian, Teacher and Author takes part in our #LoveMaps campaign.

Glanystwyth Map 1787

Of all the National Library’s resources, none has given me more pleasure than did the maps of Trawsgoed (Crosswood) and other estates when I researched their history and that of Ceredigion. More than one landsurveyor drew maps for the owners of Trawsgoed: their purpose was to show them how much land they owned and where, showing also the uses made of their fields and their names. A W.W. Matthews surveyed Trawsgoed in 1756, but only the demesne map survives, showing the grounds around the mansion.

The same was done with greater artistic skill by Mercier in 1771, and in 1781 Thomas Lewis made a comprehensive survey of the whole estate in Cardiganshire. These survive in three substantial volumes, and although a few maps have vanished during the intervening years, the collection is particularly valuable to the historian. They also contain a map of Tan-yr-allt, Abermagwr, where the writer lived with his family for fifteen happy years. But a different map is under consideration today.

By the second half of the eighteenth century most of the farms in Cwmystwyth and upper Dyffryn Ystwyth beyond Llanilar were formed a mosaic of two different ownerships, Trawsgoed and Hafod Uchdrud. In 1790 there was a grand exchange of these farms to consolidate their two estates between Wilmot earl of Trawsgoed and Thomas Johnes of Hafod. But one farm in Dyffryn Ystwyth remained with Hafod – Glanystwyth, together with the attached farm, Gwaununfuwch, forming one tenancy.

When Johnes went bankrupt in 1814, dying in the following year, the Hafod estate remained in Chancery until his widow Jane died in 1834. Then the Duke of Newcastle bought the whole estate except for Glanystwyth, which had been sold to the third earl of Lisburne in 1832 for £8,400. The acreage was estimated at 300, and the annual rent was £250. What then of the Glanystwyth map? It’s a complicated story.

Thomas Johnes had commissioned a survey of the Hafod estate in 1787, but alas, apart from a volume of maps of the Llanddewibrefi farms, all were lost some time after 1830. But the Glanystwyth map had gone with the sale of the farm in 1832, and so survives. Unfortunately we cannot show the schedule of fields which belongs to it, but every field has a number corresponding to the schedule: A1-A24 for Glanystwyth, B1-B14 for Gwaununfuwch.

How then does this map relate to today’s geography? We are in the lower Ystwyth, on the northern side of the river, a mile east of Llanilar village. The road shown running from the top to the bottom of the map is today’s B4340 from Aberystwyth to Pontrhydfendigaid. The rivulet shown running from right to left below the fields is the one called today Afon Llanfihangel, but its original name was Afon Pyllu, as shown by the the names Pwlly Uchaf and Pwlly Isaf (at one time the Aberpyllu estate, long vanished). A road is show running above the river Pyllu: this is now a green lane for most of its course.

Glanystwyth itself (A1) appears to the right of the high road. Although the house has been modernised more than once, its massive walls betray its ancient origin. From the point of view of the historian, the most interesting name is at A10, Pentre Du, on the bank of the Pyllu. It is described as ‘Houses, Mill, etc’. Nothing is visible today, but the name is still known to some local people. It’s likely that this was a cluster of earthen houses, possibly built by squatters. The Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn registers show that in 1801 two girls from houses in Pentre Du died of small-pox. In 1861 there were still three families living in ‘Black Village’; by 1901, only one family remained.

Most of the field names are common ones: Cae Pwll, Cae Bach, Cae Coch and so on. More interesting is A3, Dol y Cappel (Chapel field). What does this refer to? There is no record of any chapel close to Glanystwyth, nor any other institution such as a Sunday School. The same problem occurs on the Tan-yr-allt map, where a Cae Capel is located in 1781: it turned out to be the site of the recently-discovered Roman villa. Field A16 is Cae Ty’n y fron, a good example of the way a larger farm (Glanystwyth) could absorb a smaller property, the tyddyn of Ty’n y fron.

On the bank of the river Pyllu is Dol-y-pandy (A14), literally ‘Fulling-mill meadow’, though the mill itself seems to have gone by 1787. Next to it is A13, land ‘about the Mill Leet’ referring to a channel made for water from the Pyllu to the mill at Pentre Du. There is nothing special about the field names of Gwaununfuwch: the farm name (‘One-Cow Moor’) suggests poor land.

When I first saw the map about thirty years ago I showed a copy to Mr Hugh Tudor, son of Mr Tom Tudor the then owner of Glanystwyth, now owned by his brother Richard. Hugh listed the current names of all the fields, and though many fields had been joined together and lost their old 1787 Welsh names, a good percentage still remained in use. But the use made of the fields had changed dramatically: some ten fields then used for corn had almost all joined the others under pasture.

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#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events - Posted 07-02-2018

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.

She has chosen View from Hen Gaer Castellan by Edrica Huws (1907-1999) as her final choice.

I love how the artist uses the different fabrics in a way a painter would use the colours on a palette. The tones are subtle, and the subject itself is not obvious at first sight. I find it interesting that Edrica Huws uses patchwork, a craft that is not very present in the art world, but which has been a mean for women to express themselves for several centuries, especially in Wales. Her style is unique and the patterns on the fabrics give it an extra dimension.

View from Hen Gaer Castellan

Valériane Leblond

#LoveMaps – Gerald Morgan

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events - Posted 01-02-2018

Gerald Morgan, Historian, Teacher and Author takes part in our #LoveMaps campaign.

A 1702 Map of Wales

In 1697 was published the first edition of The History of Wales, by William Wynne (1671-1704), priest and fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. He lived in Oxford at least until 1702, when he was given the rectory of Llanfachraeth, Anglesey, but seems never to have been there. The book’s title-page acknowledges that Wynne had taken the text of The Historie of Cambria (1584) and tweaked and tidied it. The volume was reissued in 1702, with further editions in 1774, 1812 and 1832. The text is laborious to read, but this was the only history of Wales available until William Warrington published his substantial and highly readable The History of Wales in 1786, with subsequent editions.

The 1702 reissue of Wynne’s work is what concerns me today. In it there is a map of Wales, the first ever to appear in a book about the country, though the plate had been used once before in a book of maps of the counties of England. The map was the work of John Sellers. It’s small – 14cm by 12cm, so cannot be compared with the splendid map by Humphrey Lhuyd. Shortage of space forced Sellers to abbreviate the names of eight of the twelve counties of Wales; Monmouthshire is outside the Welsh border on Sellers’s map.

A few names have been horribly mistreated, e.g. Carnarvan, Laninthevery (Llanymddyfri, i.e. Llandovery), Bradsey for Bardsey, etc. Anglesey is strangely misshapen. But to me the great virtue of the map lies in the proud words THE WELSH SEA across what is known as the Irish Sea. I would be happy to renounce the name of Cardigan Bay if we could restore Sellers’s title.

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#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events - Posted 31-01-2018

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.
She has chosen Pictorial dictionary by Eliza Pughe (c.1831-1850) as her third choice.

This is a very cute piece of work. I used to create tiny books when I was a child, and I have always found illustrated alphabets and educational posters interesting. Eliza Pughe has been illustrating in a simple and efficient way everyday objects and actions, and has been writing the words for them in both Welsh and English. The story around the artist is touching as well, as she was deaf and mute from birth, she must have found a way of expressing herself through pictorial art.

Pictorial dictionary by Eliza Pughe (c.1831-1850)

Valériane Leblond

#LoveMaps – Gerald Morgan

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events - Posted 25-01-2018

Gerald Morgan, Historian, Teacher and Author takes part in our #LoveMaps campaign.

Darluniad y Ddaear 1677

Before the 20th century Welsh-language maps are scarce. To readers before 1900 the most familiar maps using Welsh are those published in Bibles from 1717 onwards, showing Palestine and the journeys of St Paul through the Mediterranean. Alas, many have been torn out or mutilated by long usage through the years. Only stumps remain in my own copies of the Bibles edited by Moses Williams (1717-8) and Richard Morris (1746 and 1752). The same thing has happened to almost every copy of the remarkable first-ever map using the Welsh language.

This is ‘Darluniad y Ddaear’ (An Illustration of the World), a map of the two hemispheres printed in 1677 as part of the third edition of Y Ffydd Ddi-ffuant, a history of Christianity, the masterpiece of Charles Edwards. The first edition (1667) was at 89 pages only a foretaste of the second edition (240 pages). By 1677 Edwards had extended the text to 422 pages. He has commissioned artists to illustrate the new edition with gruesome pictures of the sufferings of Christian martyrs, who comment on their agonies in Welsh bubbles. The ways to Heaven and Hell are also illustrated. Above all, there is the map. It seems odd that the text doesn’t really need the maps, since they bear little relation to the text. But Charles Edwards wanted the monoglot Welsh to know about world geography.

The map illustrates as well the way eclipses of the sun and moon are caused, and demonstrates the tropical, moderate and frigid zones of the world’s climates. The engraver was Richard Palmer, an Englishman working in London. He was using earlier maps by John Speed and Robert Vaughan, but his map is an original creation for Charles Edwards. It’s not an English map with overprints in Welsh, but a new creation. Every placename, every explanation, is in Welsh.

As one would expect, the map is far from correct. California appears as an island, India is much too skinny, while Malaysia looks like a fish-hook. Huge continents cover the north and south Poles. The course of the river Nile is shown remarkably correctly, considering that no one knew where its source actually was. The Niger however is far from accurate. Another Welsh map of the world did not appear until 1805, the much more correct map of Robert Roberts of Holyhead, in Thomas Charles of Bala’s Geiriadur Ysgrythyrol (Scriptural Dictionary).

Alas, although I have a copy of Y Ffydd Ddi-ffuant, with some of the illustrations, the map is missing, as it is in most copies of the book in the National Library. It appeared again in the fourth edition of 1722, but again, it’s absent in my copy. Considering the importance of this map, it’s surprising that no scholar took notice of it until 2003.

Remarkably, the copper plate made by Richard Palmer survives in the Rawlinson collection in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. By sheer coincidence the copper plate for the Robert Roberts map of 1805 also survives, in the National Library of Wales.

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#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events - Posted 24-01-2018

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.

She has chosen Drawing volume DV56 of Welsh Primitive Art  as her second choice.

These pictures are really fascinating, and I am so grateful to the National Library I got to see the originals. These paintings are very mysterious – who is the artist? A woman, a man? What age? What background? We can only guess. The technique is far from being academically perfect, but it conveys a unique feeling. The places depicted are local to Aberystwyth area, and the subjects are everyday activities of that time (drawing water from the fountain, fishing, working at the mill…). There are children playing, women with babies, farm animals grazing, and the pictures are both full of life and calm peaceful scenes.

Drawing volume DV56 of Welsh Primitive Art (PA6784)

Valériane Leblond

#LoveMaps – Gerald Morgan

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events - Posted 18-01-2018

Gerald Morgan, Historian, Teacher and Author takes part in our #LoveMaps campaign.

Rhydypandy

This historic map, six inches to the mile, shows my father’s fatherland in the parish of Llangyfelach north of Swansea. What you see on the screen is a deception, because it’s a composite of the corners of two different but contiguous maps melded into one. On screen it’s hard to read, but a printout gives a clear copy.

To the left, two-thirds up from the bottom, you can see the farm of Cwm-cilau-fach – Cwm-cile today. In 1843 the farm was the property and home of my great-great-grandfather Morgan Morgan, his wife Ester and a number of their children, including their daughter Margaret and son John (my great-grandfather) and his brothers Mathew, Henry and Rees. The family worshipped at Salem chapel, which you can see one-third of the way up the map and one-third in from the left margin. Many of the family were buried there. Near the foot of the map on the right is Rhyd-y-pandy, where there was a toll-gate with cottage where all passers-through had to pay. This was an additional burden on farmers who already paid Church tithes and taxes.

By July 1843 the Rebecca riots had spread from Pembrokeshire to Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire, and by Thursday the 20th they had reached into Glamorgan. That night about forty men approached the gate at Rhyd-y-pandy, among them two sons of Cwm-cile, Mathew and Henry. Another who claimed to be present as the crowd destroyed the gate was John Jones, one of the wretched of the area. He had built a tŷ unnos, a one-night squatter’s house of turf, on Mynydd-y-Darren, the common where Morgan Morgan pastured his sheep and cattle, but the Morgans had destroyed the place and driven John Jones away.

Seeking revenge on the Morgan family, John Jones went on the Saturday to Swansea to inform the new Police authority about the Morgan brothers’ presence at the riot. At dawn next day the Chief Constable, Captain Napier, with an inspector and two constables, set off for Cwm-cile. On the way they arrested Mathew Morgan and left him in the hands of the two constables. On went the two officers and arrived at the farm to arrest Henry. The family resented such disturbance on a Sunday – were they not good Baptists? Henry tried to escape, so the two officers grabbed his arms, and a skirmish developed. John Morgan seized a pitchfork to threaten Captain Napier and Rees appeared with a hatchet. Napier drew his pistol and shot John Morgan in the stomach, while Henry vanished. The conflict worsened, but ceased when Napier fired a second time.

Mathew and John were taken to Swansea prison, and before long the whole family were in the hands of the police, though Morgan Morgan and his wife were released on bail. A special court was held in Cardiff in September 1843 to try the family for creating an affray. The parents were dismissed with promises to keep the peace, while Margaret was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in Swansea and Rees and John (who had survived his shooting) to twelve months each. In March 1844 Henry and Matthew appeared at the assizes accused of rioting, and doubtless they would have been punished with exile to Australia. But the case collapsed, since John Jones had disappeared, while his wife and brother swore to the police that he could not possibly have been at Rhyd-y-pandy on the night of the riot.

Twenty years later the sons of Morgan Morgan had sold Cwm-cile to the Thomas family, who are still there. John Morgan invested his share in a row of houses in the Swansea valley. Doubtless his wound shortened his life, since he died quite young. The houses were divided among his sons, including my grandfather Henry Harries Morgan of Pontardawe. He promised his respectable wife that he would never tell the story to his children, and my father grew up without knowing anything of it But another branch of the family were proud of what had happened, namely the descendants of Hannah Morgan, eldest daughter of Cwm-cile, who had married Morgan Rees, a Baptist preacher. Among their descendants are the late Rhodri Morgan, Welsh First Minister, his brother Professor Prys Morgan, and the late Professor Morgan Watkin, who told the story to my father’s brothers.

By now I’m inclined to forgive Captain Napier for his part in the story, though the family believed that the police had started the violence. A pitchfork is an alarming weapon in the hands of a strong young man. Napier went on to found the Glamorgan Cricket Club, which I followed for years, and saw them in their heyday in 1968 beat Australia.

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#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events - Posted 17-01-2018

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.

She has chosen ‘Cottage loaves baked in an ancient oven at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant’ by Geoff Charles, January 1955 as her first choice.

I love how Geoff Charles allows us to enter people’s houses and learn more about their everyday lives. It takes a special talent to make people feel comfortable and natural in their own homes, especially if they are from a humble background. I have chosen this picture where Miss E Hughes seems so proud of showing how to bake a loaf of bread – bread is essential! – but there are many more by Geoff Charles of families, kitchens and hearths that are really interesting too.

‘Cottage loaves baked in an ancient oven at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant’

The National Collection of Welsh Photographs

Valériane Leblond

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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