Blog - Story of Wales

Posted - 13-09-2019

Collections / News / Story of Wales

The Dictionary of Welsh Biography

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

Developing an interactive timeline

Wales is a small but proud nation, a nation which has contributed more than its fair share of reformers, inventors and innovators to society. From Aneurin Bevan’s NHS to Edward George Bowen’s development of Radar, Wales’ contribution to technology and civilisation as a whole, should not be underestimated. And lets not forget, Wales too has entertained us with sporting greats, actors like Richard Burton and a plenitude of musical talent.

The Dictionary of Welsh Biography has for many years recorded the lives of our most celebrated people, so that we never forget their contribution to Wales and the world. Since 2004 all these biographies have been available bilingualy on the Dictionary of Welsh Biography website, and it’s regularly updated with new entries – over 5000 and counting.

Portraits of People in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography from Wikidata

In recent years, in a bid to make this resource as open and accessible as possible, the National Library has been sharing the data behind the website openly to Wikidata – a lesser known sister of the one and only Wikipedia, designed for sharing information as data, rather than prose, freely and openly with the world. Like Wikipedia anyone can edit and improve the data in Wikidata and we now have a rich resource of data about our 5000 VIPs. Wikidata lets us plot birthplaces on a map, it lets us connect data about people’s education with data for the schools and universities they attended, and we can see which other institutions hold relevant records, like portraits or archives.

The birth place of everyone in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography. Explore      –      A map plotting the journeys taken by Welsh Missionaries, using Wikidata.

Our volunteer team has also been busy using the Dictionary of Welsh Biography to create Wikipedia articles for the people, so that we effectively have two versions of every article – one a peer reviewed and carefully managed historical record, and the other, a community managed, constantly evolving article which anyone can contribute to and reuse freely.

Following the launch of a new website for the Dictionary of Welsh Biography last year, we secured funding to work with developers to add a new and exciting feature. Using the enriched data from Wikidata, and thousands of digital images from the library collections, we are developing an interactive timeline which will allow users to explore all 5000 people in the dictionary chronologically. Click on a person on the timeline and you will be able to see the relevant Dictionary of Welsh Biography entry and the Wikipedia article.

An early version of the timeline currently being developed

What’s more, the timeline will allow users to filter the records based on where they were born, where they were educated, their occupation and more. And these filters can be used in combination, so if you only want to see all the Footballers born in Aberdare, that’s fine! The Library has also carefully curated a timeline of important events in Welsh history which can be overlayed on the timeline to give more context to the lives of these people.

This level of interaction and customisation will help bring the dictionary of Welsh Biography to life. It will be easier than ever before to search and discover the lives of our most important citizens – the people who helped shape the story of Wales.

The timeline should be live later this year.

Jason Evans

National Wikimedian

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted - 02-08-2019

Story of Wales

Welsh Identity, Symbols and the National Eisteddfod

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

 

Dragons, harps, costumes and flowers: they all have something to tell us about the development of Welsh identity!

These symbols came to be essential ingredients when advertising anything ‘Welsh’, such as national events and traditional produce. Take, for example, Wales’s National Eisteddfod. Still held annually at the beginning of August, this festival; historically centered around literature, music, art and poetry, made a profound use of ‘Welsh’ symbols in its promotions.

 

 

Pageantry, symbolism and ceremony played an important role in a Welshman’s life during the 19th and 20th centuries. These customs fed into an effort to project Welsh identity, at a time when indigenous cultures were consciously displaying their distinctiveness.

In this blog, we will use the National Eisteddfod’s official programmes to show how meaningful symbols were used to project ‘Welshness’.

 

A brief history of the National Eisteddfod

The beginning – In 1176 Lord Rhys hosted the first known ‘eisteddfod’. He held two major competitions at Cardigan Castle; one in poetry, and the other in music.

A sudden decline – Similar tournaments were held in the 15th and 16th centuries. The phrase ‘eisteddfod’ was coined during this period. However, these gatherings declined during the reign of Henry VIII.

Revival – London based Welsh societies revived the eisteddfodic tradition at the end of the 18th century. Iolo Morganwg, inventor of the famous Gorsedd of the Bards ceremonies, played an important role in reviving the eisteddfod on a national scale by associating the Gorsedd with the institution.

Formalising the ‘National Eisteddfod’ – At Denbigh in 1860 a Council and General Committee were elected to manage ‘Yr Eisteddfod’, a newborn national organization. The following year, at Aberdare, the first official ‘National Eisteddfod’ was held.

 

 

Popular symbols and their roots

The Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) is one of Wales’s most recognizable symbols. Believed to have been used by King Arthur and other Celtic leaders, it symbolizes Wales’s ancient roots and represents its formidable past warriors.

The Triple harp (Y Delyn Deires) is thought of as Wales’s national instrument. Used for centuries to accompany folk-singing, dancing and poetry recitations, the triple harp epitomizes Wales’s rich literary and musical heritage.

The Welsh Dress (Y Wisg Gymreig) was largely developed during the 19th century by a devoted cultural patron called Augusta Hall, or Lady Llanover. The most basic traditional Welsh costume consisted of a red woolen cloak and a tall black hat. Hall believed that such a custom would promote Welsh industries and identity.

The Mystic Mark (Y Nod Cyfrin), the symbol /|\ was devised by Iolo Morganwg. It represents the virtues Love, Justice and Truth. The symbol was widely used on Eisteddfod programmes and represented the Gorsedd’s presence at the event. The Gorsedd was once thought of as an ancient Druidic circle which glorified Wales’s rich bardic tradition.

 

 

Reviving Welsh Culture

The use of symbols on Eisteddfod programmes can be considered within a wider context of a general effort to revive Welsh culture. It is clear that such a movement looked to the past for inspiration and encouraged Welsh people to take pride in their heritage and history.

 

Elen Haf Jones, National Library of Wales

This blog post was created as part of the Europeana ‘Rise of Literacy’ project.

Posted - 19-07-2019

Collections / Story of Wales

Setting foot in Patagonia

This post is part of the Story of Wales series. Click on the Story of Wales category on the right to see all the posts. You can also subscribe to our blog on the right to receive weekly emails of all our posts.

A crowd of over 150 people on the deck of a ship surveyed the land that is to be their new home. It was Thursday 27 July 1865. The Mimosa had dropped anchor at last and the settlers waited eagerly to set foot in Patagonia.

It was almost exactly two months since they had begun their voyage from Liverpool docks, and it was a wonder that the venture had come this far. After years of negotiation with the government in Buenos Aires, the intention had been for them to sail to Patagonia aboard the Halton Castle, a ship twice the size of the Mimosa. It failed to return from its previous voyage and new arrangements had to be made. The settlers – individuals, couples and families from places such as Mountain Ash, Aberdare, Rhosllanerchrugog and Ffestiniog as well as Liverpool and Birkenhead – waited a month while the Mimosa was prepared for the journey.

As for the voyage itself, it began with stormy weather as they left Liverpool, there were strong winds on the way and other days when the sea was calm and the sun was scorching. Three children died on the ship and two were born, and there was a wedding too. Prayer meetings were held daily.

They had arrived in Patagonia despite all, and two leaders of the venture, Lewis Jones and Edwyn Cynrig Roberts, were there to greet them. Joseph Seth Jones, a 20-year-old printer from Denbigh aboard the ship, noted in his diary that Lewis Jones had come to them by boat and that he was welcomed with great joy. ‘His report was satisfactory in general and far beyond our expectations.’ he wrote, ‘He said that he had succeeded in the face of extraordinary barriers.’ The diary is a precious record of the voyage through the passengers, and it is held at the National Library.

A new chapter in the venture began with the landing in Patagonia; they would have to face another journey of 40 miles to reach the Chupat valley (later known as Dyffryn Camwy), not to mention the formidable challenge of making a new home for themselves in such arid and barren land. There would be times when the venture very nearly failed completely, but, to many people’s surprise, the Welsh language is still spoken in Patagonia today.

In terms of the number of Welsh people who went there (a total of about 4,000 by 1900), the story of the Welsh settlement in Patagonia is only a small part in the entire history of migration from Wales during the nineteenth century. Many more went to the United States and Australia, for example, and some of those people relocated again to join the community in Patagonia. But the fascination that surrounds Patagonia continues today and has brought attention to this chapter in the nation’s history. It stems from the romantic depiction of the South-American landscape, from the courage and persistence of the setles, and of course from the vision behind the venture: the desire to establish an independent state where the Welsh language was the primary medium for all aspects of life, including law, politics, education and trade. The ambition of the venture, both practically and ideologically, was both controversial and wondrous then as it is today.

The Library has materials available online to help you to discover more about the story of the Welsh in Patagonia. There is a selection of the 25 most important manuscripts relating to Patagonia, among them the diary of Joseph Seth Jones. There is also a list of books and articles on the Welsh settlement in Patagonia.

Dafydd Tudur, National Library of Wales

Posted - 05-07-2019

Collections / Story of Wales

Game of Thrones and Welsh mythology – what connects them?

 This is a guest post as part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

The National Library of Wales is home to some of the key surviving manuscripts that contain some of the most influential texts in Welsh mythology.

These include the White Book of Rhydderch, within which we find the earliest version of the Mabinogi – the best-known tales in Welsh mythology.

 

Authors turning to Welsh history and mythology for their inspiration is nothing new. Just as Welsh coal powered the industrial revolution, our mythology has been mined by authors and has powered the boiler-rooms of some of the most popular fantasy series in the world.

The most high-profile of these is the Lord of the Rings, in which Wales has influenced everything from the Elven language, romantic unions between warriors and Otherworldly fair maidens, swords of destiny, and frequent journeys underground into Annwn-like subterranean regions.

The Harry Potter series, too, is full of parallels with Welsh mythology. I was particularly struck by the scene where the evil Lord Voldemort is resurrected from a cauldron in a plotline not too dissimilar to that of the Pair Dadeni, the Renaissance Cauldron, in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi.

 

The influence of Welsh mythology has stretched beyond the western world too – the Korean massive multiplayer game Mabinogi, which is based on the legends of the same name, has around 500,000 players.

The most high profile and lucrative fantasy series at the moment is, of course, Game of Thrones. The eight and final TV series has just concluded with more than 38 million watching the first episode. Two more books, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, are still forthcoming and a number of spin-off films and series are no doubt in the offing.

There are a number of parallels between the Game of Thrones series and Welsh mythology and history, but here are a few that struck me while watching and reading.

Quarrelling

Perhaps one of the most striking theme in the series is that of being under siege from an invading ‘other’ – in the case of Game of Thrones, the white walkers from ‘beyond the Wall’.

The closest analogue to this tale might be the walls built by the Romans to separate them from the Picts. But it also has parallels with how the coming of the Anglo-Saxon to Britain, which was portrayed as a punishment by God in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain.

 

Most notably, the Britons in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s tale had left themselves open to attack by acting immorally and quarrelling amongst themselves.

This is mirrored in how the different Houses in George RR Martin’s series weaken themselves during the War of the Five Kings, raping and pillaging as they go, not realising that a greater threat is on the doorstep of Westeros.

There are also parallels to British history in the way the ‘First Men’ who speak the ‘Old Tongue’ and worship Old Gods populate the peripheral parts of Westeros.

Meanwhile, the Andals from Essos, who have brought their ‘Common Tongue’ with them, have taken over much of the more fruitful, sunny and prosperous parts of the landmass.

‘My Kingdom for a dragon!’

George RR Martin has also confirmed that there are strong parallels between the plot of Games of Thrones and the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, in which Wales played a large part.

As with Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon, the Wars of the Roses included younger heirs to the throne – the Princes in the Tower – who were probably murdered so that another – Richard III – could seize the throne.

The role of Pembroke-born Henry VII, banished across the sea but out to seize the throne for himself, is taken up by Daenerys Targaryen.

As well as being of Welsh descent Henry VII landed in Wales and recruited military reinforcements there before marching to victory at Bosworth Field.

 

How are yew?

Trees such as the oak and yew were sacred to the Celts, as they are to the First Men who still worship the Old Gods in Game of Thrones.

It’s no coincidence either than the Weirwoods in the Godswood in Game of Thrones are white with red leaves. These are the colour of the supernatural in Welsh mythology.

When Pwyll comes across a pack of hounds at the very beginning of the Mabinogi – the Dogs of Annwn – they’re white with red ears.

The animal and tree-worshipping Children of the Forest mentioned often in Game of Thrones also have clear parallels with the Tylwyth Teg of Welsh mythology.

Animals

Incestuous sexual relationships, rape, and people turning into animals – Game of Thrones has all three in spades.

George RR Martin has however had a hard time topping the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi.

After Gilfaethwy rapes his uncle’s servant, the powerful sorcerer turns him and his brother Gwydion into a pair of mating animals, first a stag and hind deer, then a sow and board, and finally a wolf and she wolf.

The two brothers mate as all three animals and have three sons, Hyddwn, Hychddwn and Bleiddwn (Stag-man, Tall-piglet, and Wolf-man).

In Game of Thrones, Joffrey is born of an incestuous relationship between his mother and uncle. Several characters can also take over the bodies of nearby animals.

Mistreatment

There are continuous references throughout the Game of Thrones books and TV series to a war that happened in the past that installed Robert Baratheon as king.

The spark that set the war off was Rhaegar Targaryen’s (Daenarys’ brother) kidnapping of Edward Stark’s sister and Robert’s significant other, Lyanna.

Robert and Ned go after her, and this causes a civil war than brings down the Targaryen’s.

Some have pointed to Helen of Troy as the obvious inspiration – the face that launched a thousand ships.

But there’s a very strong similarity to the story of Branwen ferch Llŷr in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi.

 

Her mistreatment by the Irish King Matholwch sets off a war with Britain. Her brothers, King of the Britons Bendigeidfran and Efinisen, set off to save her.

As with Game of Thrones, there’s a very high body count. All the main characters are dead by the end of this war between Britain and Ireland, including Matholwch, Bendigeidfran, Efnisien, and Branwen.

What’s in a name?

A number of the characters in Game of Thrones have Welsh names which give some clue to their character or fate.

One of the most obvious is ‘Tyrion’ – whose name isn’t far from the Welsh word ‘Tirion’ meaning ‘considerate’.

The dwarf, although he can be cruel, is also one of the more sympathetic characters in the series owing to his own mistreatment.

However, the character of Bran Stark is the most obvious example of George RR Martin drawing inspiration from Welsh legend.

There are obvious parallels with the mythological figure of Bran, or Bendigeidfran as he’s known in the Mabinogi.

 

Bran in Game of Thrones develops psychic powers after being thrown out of the upper window of a castle and losing the use of is legs.

Bendigeidfran’s weak spot is also his legs and his own powers only grow stronger after he’s ‘killed’ with a spear to the foot.

Like Bran is carried around Westeros by Hodor, the Bran of Welsh mythology is carried around Britain before being buried on the White Hill (now the site of the Tower of London).

Gore

Game of Thrones is probably best known for the sheer amounts of gore and that too owes something of a debt to Welsh mythology.

Ramsey Bolton (played by Welshman Iwan Rheon) has a penchant for dismemberment that is very similar to Bendigeidfran’s villainous half-brother Efnisien.

The psychotic Efnisien likes nothing more than cutting ears and lips, crushing people’s heads with his bare hands, and burning small children alive.

Welsh history has also seen its share of violence. Some have pointed out the parallels between the Red Wedding, in which the Starks and the Tullys are butchered during a wedding hosted by Lord Walder Frey, and the Christmas Day massacre at Abergavenny Castle in 1175.

Them, the Norman Baron named William de Braose invited the Welsh chieftain named Seisyll ap Dyfnwal to a feast at his castle, before locking the doors and massacring him and his men.

Origins

It’s notable of course that while many people in Wales are familiar with these tales second hand from Tolkien, Martin and Rowling, but don’t realise their origins are Welsh.

There’s a lot of work to be done in Wales to get to know our own history and mythology. That’s why I wrote my third novel, Dadeni, in order to introduce many people in Wales to our own mythology.

If you haven’t done so already, visit the National Library or pick up a book about Wales’ history and mythology.

Who knows, it may inspire you to write the next Game of Thrones!

Ifan Morgan Jones

Posted - 21-06-2019

Collections / Exhibitions / music / Screen and Sound / Story of Wales

Welsh Music: Folk, Protest and Pop

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

Wales is often described as the country of song. But where did our musical tradition begin, and how did it develop?

Our new exhibition Record: Folk, Protest and Pop’ explores the musical tradition of Wales throughout the centuries – from the crwth to Catatonia – using various items from The Welsh Music Archive and Screen and Sound Archive.

Nia Mai Daniel from the Welsh Music Archive tells us more …

 

 

Roots
Although Wales is known as ‘The Land of Song’, we don’t have a great memory of early musical works. The folk tradition is an oral tradition, with harpists and balladeers travelling around the country, entertaining people in markets and public houses, and committing the melodies to memory.

By the eighteenth century folk melodies were recorded on paper, and many notable collectors compiled these at a later date; it is thanks to the tireless work of individuals such as Nansi Richards, J Lloyd Williams and Meredydd Evans that our folk tradition was saved and protected.

The establishment of the Welsh Folk Song Society in 1906 and the revival in the folk tradition in the 1970s, when folk singing coexisted with popular music, have also contributed to preserving the tradition.

 

Merêd
One of the main figures in the evolution of music in Wales was Meredydd Evans, or Merêd, who spent his life contributing to Welsh life and culture as a collector, historian, musician, editor, nationalist and passionate campaigner for the Welsh language.

Merêd and his wife Phyllis Kinney collected songs which had been in danger of disappearing, and believed that the tradition could not grow and adapt without giving life to these songs which he discovered in old manuscripts and musical scores.

As well as his work as a collector, Merêd was also a gifted performer, recording an important collection of songs for the Folkway Records label in New York in 1954. For a decade from 1963 he was head of BBC Wales’ light entertainment, where he worked tirelessly to create popular Welsh light entertainment programmes.

 

Revolution
“It’s about time we have more extreme singing in Wales today, more screams and wild drums…” were the words of a member of the first Welsh rock band, Y Blew, which formed in 1967.

The Wales of the 60s and 70s was a country that saw political agitation as well as musical ferment. Folk and pop music became tremendously popular, and the first Welsh language record label, Sain, was established in 1969. But what pushed Welsh music onwards was the ‘protest’ song. Rather than composing love songs, these young Welsh artists would take their guitars to the local pub and sing satirical and political songs.

By the 1980s a new group of bands and record labels emerged, ones that created a very different sound compared to the pop music usually heard from the country’s stages and radio waves. Groups such as Anhrefn, Datblygu, Llwybr Llaethog and Y Cyrff were experimental and revolutionary.

 

Horizons
During the 1990s many Welsh language groups and individuals started to produce work in English as well as in Welsh such as Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. The breakthrough into the English language music scene led to a growing interest in Welsh language culture and music across the world.

By the late 1990s and early twenty-first century the Welsh language was expressed through a variety of styles, from hip hop, reggae and ska, and returning back to its traditional folk roots.

Today, the music scene in Wales is alive and well, with an abundance of talented artists writing, recording and performing in Welsh, and more independent record labels than ever before working to release Welsh records.

 

For more information about our RECORD: Folk, Protest & Pop Exhibition (22 June 2019 – 1 February 2020)

Posted - 07-06-2019

Collections / Story of Wales

Street Literature: Welsh Almanacs

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

 

Almanacs were the favourite reading material of monoglot Welsh speakers right from the 17th century!

Affordable literatures, such as the almanac, were particularly popular with the lower classes, which made up most of Wales’ population. Between c. 1545 and 1801, the population of Wales saw a staggering increase – in fact, it more than doubled. Most of these people were monoglot Welsh speakers.

But what exactly is an almanac, and what made it such a favourite?

The defining feature of an almanac is its annual calendar, and in this sense, its history predates the printing press by several millennia. The near East produced texts considered to be almanacs as long ago as 500BC. However, it was only after the development of printing that almanacs truly began to gain popularity.

The first printed almanac was produced in Europe in 1457. Yearly almanacs were printed in England from the late 16th century and these became bestsellers during the succeeding century. The first Welsh-language almanac was soon to follow.

 

 

It is with Thomas Jones (1648-1713), a tailor’s son from Tre’r Ddôl near Corwen, that the story of the Welsh almanac begins.

In 1679, when he was 18-years-old, Jones was granted a royal patent for writing and publishing an annual Welsh-language almanac. These were published in London, under the title ‘Newyddion Oddiwrth y Ser’ (‘News From the Stars’).

Jones’ almanacs were between 20 and 24 leaves in length. They contained, along with the typical yearly calendar, material that was directed at their intended readership.

The first Welsh almanacs featured:

  • Weather forecasts and moon phases
  • Lists of markets and fairs
  • Astronomical guides and readings
  • Christian holidays
  • Tide tables
  • Welsh-language reading guides
  • Samples of Welsh literature and poetry
  • A chronology of historical events
  • Various advertisements

 

 

Jones’ almanacs were useful resources for the poor Welsh, particularly farmers; consider, for example, their environmental and weather related content. Astrological features also fulfilled the folk’s superstitious beliefs. Jones was a known supporter of amateur Welsh writers and he gave them a printed platform through his almanac.

Thomas Jones’ almanac remained one of a kind until 1695, when the Printing Act (which had restricted book-publishing to London, Oxford and Cambridge) came to an end. From then on, the printing industry spread throughout England and Wales, resulting in an increase in the number of Welsh almanac titles. Their contents, however, strayed little from Jones’ original format.

The Welsh almanac stands apart from its European cousins. Their contents varied from the medical lore of England’s medieval almanacs to the administrative organisation of France; as featured in the French ‘Royal Almanac’, founded in 1683. That the Italian ‘Barbanera’ (first published in 1762) is today included in UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World’ Register gives a clear indication of an almanac’s value.

The Welsh almanac is certainly no exception. It is a valuable resource, not only in terms of literary, vernacular, and social history, but also as a work of great heritage significance.

Steffani W. Davies, The National Library of Wales

Posted - 26-04-2019

Discover Sound / Story of Wales

Protecting the Story of Wales

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is an exciting UK project that’s funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by the British Library.

The National Library of Wales is proud to be one of the 10 Hub partners participating in the project where half a million rare and at risk sound recordings will be digitally preserved and 100,000 made available online.

From September 2018 until September 2021 the National Library of Wales will digitise, catalogue and assess rights for 5,000 sound recordings from Wales. They will include a range of subjects from oral history, lectures, dialect, poetry, radio sessions to Welsh pop and folk music.

We will preserve sound recordings that are held on obsolete medium and are under threat of physical degradation. Experts suggests we have no more than 15 years to save these sound collections before they will be lost forever.

Thanks to Unlocking Our Sound Heritage, we will be able to preserve and protect some of Wales’ sound recordings and make them publicly available. In order to fulfill this, we will be working with some of our partners in Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Swansea and Tredegar.

While digitising the recordings we have unearthed some lost and forgotten interviews from people talking about their childhood memories back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, their school days, family life, communities, and local dialect.

Wales is a country with a variety of customs and traditions which are an important part of our culture and history. By saving these recordings we allow future generations to hear our past and learn about our history.

Stories about local customs from the 19th Century are being told, for instance the ‘Mari Lwyd’ a medieval folk custom, with the purpose of collecting money for the poor and homeless to make up for the lack of support from the government. A tall person was nominated to lead, holding the horse’s skull, with two others behind holding the offerings collected. The Mari Lwyd was last seen in New Quay in 1887.

A description of the ‘Ceffyl Pren’ can be heard. This was a wooden horse used as a practice of social justice. The aim was to punish those who did something against the spirit of society when the law could not. The rider and horse was made of wood and straw in order to represent the guilt. A hood was worn by those who carried the effigy, to hide their identity, and a procession took place through the public areas of the town leading to the home of the culprit, and three weeks later the effigy was burnt in front of the culprit’s house.

Thomas Williams talks about the ‘gogryddion’ (sievemakers) moving into the community and used for processing wheat. He recalls a tradition where a sixpence was thrown in with the wheat, and when the coin appeared it indicated the wheat was ready. The sieves were made out of split willow and the makers were known to be Mormons.

During the three years a wealth of history, traditions and heritage will be saved and without the means to preserve these recordings the first-hand accounts could be lost forever.

If you would like more information about the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, please contact us on: uosh@llyfrgell.cymru

 

Alison Smith, Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Hub Project Manager

Posted - 12-04-2019

#LoveArt / Collections / Exhibitions / Story of Wales

Collecting Contemporary: Art from the National Collection

This post is a part of the Story of Wales series, which looks at different aspects of Welsh history, and how today’s Wales remembers, and shapes it. Subscribe to the blog on the right to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

‘Hel Llwch’ by Valériane Leblond, 2018 (Copyright: Valériane Leblond)

 

The National Library of Wales is home to an important collection of contemporary Welsh art. On display in the Library’s recently launched ‘Collecting Contemporary’ exhibition (6.4.19 – 21.3.20) are examples of works recently acquired by the Library, which vary from Paul Peter Piech’s dynamic linocut, to Charles Byrd’s cubist work.

 

‘Abstraction’ by Charles Byrd, 1964 (Copyright: Charles Byrd Estate)

 

An important gift which recently came into the Library’s possession was the Roese Collection, a valuable and comprehensive collection of contemporary Welsh art. This is one of the most important collections of contemporary art to enter the Library’s collections, and a number of the works by artists such as Charles Byrd, Ernest Zobole, Ceri Richards, Mary Lloyd Jones, Ivor Davies, Glenys Cour, Charles Byrd and Iwan Bala can be viewed within this exhibition.

 

‘View through a window’ by Ivor Davies (Copyright: Ivor Davies)

 

This year we were also fortunate to acquire nine iconic works by the Glyn Neath based pop artist Ken Elias into our collections.

 

‘Check’ by Ken Elias, ca.2008-2009 (Copyright: Ken Elias)

 

The Library prides itself in collecting works from artists who are currently attracting attention in this field, such as the London based artist Seren Morgan Jones, and the locally based artist Teresa Jenellen in Machynlleth. The theme of women is central to their works. Another local artist whose work is exhibited here is Valériane Le Blond, and her imaginative paintings portray a Welsh countryside which is familiar to us all, whilst Sarah Carvell’s expressionistic landscapes and Lisa Eurgain Taylor and Elfyn Lewis’ abstract works show the eternal inspiration of the Welsh landscape.

 

‘Blue Gloves, Orange Chair’ by Seren Morgan Jones, 2016 (Copyright: Seren Morgan Jones)

 

Our collection is increasing in strength with ongoing purchases and donations from generous benefactors.

 

Morfudd Bevan, Art Curator at the National Library of Wales

Tags:

← Older Posts

Categories

Search

Archives

About this blog

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.

About the blog