At the beginning of April, Alan and I visited the National Museum in Cardiff once again as I needed extra pictures of some of the artefacts in storage for my presentation. Again we were made so welcome by the staff in the Archaeology department. Like many times before, we were met by Adam Gwilt, who took us through a maze of corridors to see how the artefacts are stored in special acid free foam. There again we met up with a familiar friend, Evan Chapman and later Tony Daly again in his studio. The artefacts are stored at an even temperature and in special acid free foam. The nitrogen in this foam deters any further deterioration. I was able to handle swords I’d last handled as a child of about 8 years old when my father brought them home before posting them to Cardiff in a wooden box.
Adam told me that it has been agreed to a notable amount of Llyn Cerrig Bach artefacts coming up to Oriel Ynys Môn in 2012. As I have recently instigated the publication of a book on Llyn Cerrig Bach, which I shall be contributing to, to be launched in May 2012, it was great that Adam confirmed that both things would come together at Oriel Môn at the same time. The idea of a book on Llyn Cerrig Bach came to me after seeing the format of the bi-lingual publication that Ian Jones of Oriel Môn, had produced on South Stack. This has plenty of pictures in it with not too much text. Ideal, I feel, for the general inquisitive reader who wants to learn about the history of our island. We already have a super academic tome written by Dr.Philip McDonald on the analysis of the various metal content of the artefacts. Also Frances Lynch has given detailed professional descriptions of the artefacts in her highly acclaimed book “Prehistoric Anglesey” I’m very pleased to say that Frances has agreed from the onset of my idea to put her expertise input into this publication.
At the beginning of April, Alan and I also went to listen to a talk on Patagonia at Oriel Ynys Môn. This was given by Clare Dudman ( nee Jenkins ) who is originally from Anglesey. She has written a part fictional novel based on an imaginary tale of a couple typical to the ones who emigrated to Patagonia on the Mimosa in 1865. The novel title is – A Place of Meadows and Tall Trees. There were a number of people like myself in the audience, who had been to Patagonia, some of them having lived there for a year or more. We all had fascinating chats together at the end of the evening, comparing our different experiences. I had stayed with families in two villages whilst there in 1995.Since this visit, I have found that I have developed a great empathy with this Welsh colony which was established in Argentina nearly 150 years ago. When I first arrived there, I was horrified by the bleakness of the landscape and the strong wind that blew dust everywhere. However, of all the countries I’ve visited, my stay in Patagonia was truly an amazing experience. I’d love to go back there, but sadly it is much too far for me to travel to now. The story of the hardships that the first settlers endured is heartbreaking to read about.
I have been able to return the hospitality I received in Patagonia by having two ladies staying with me here when their choir was on tour around Wales. Sonia could only speak Spanish and Menna spoke Welsh and Spanish. Neither, you will note, could speak English. Menna had to translate from one to the other, so that we could carry on a conversation! It is incredible how the Welsh language has survived this long and is now even on the increase amongst the young people there. This is a picture of me at the Welsh nursery school there in 1995.
During this month, a number of us from Anglesey / Ynys Môn U3A visited the National Library in Aberystwyth. I decided that I would apply for a Reader’s Card on-line before I went so that I could look at some material relating to the Welsh emigration to Patagonia. This is because I have to give a presentation to the Bangor U3A in November, so I need to brush up on my knowledge beforehand. Before going to the library, ias well as registering for a Reader’s Card it is also very important to search for the title of the documents you would like to see and record their documentation number. You must then hand over these details at the desk when you arrive, as it still takes over an hour to retrieve them from the various vaults. This is an example of one of the reference details I took with me.
“Dau o ddyddiaduron Llwyd ap Iwan a gadwodd ar ei deithiau aml dros y paith ac yn yr Andes ac yn disgrifio bywyd yn y Wladfa; 1888-9. NLW MS 7258-9C. C.”
These were two diaries of Llwyd ap Iwan relating his travels in the Andes in 1888-89. He was murdered by hostile Indians soon after his last entry. It should be noted that there were also peaceful Indian tribes who lived happily alongside the Welsh settlers and they each respected one another. They loved the bread baked by the Welsh and would trade a wild horse in exchange for a loaf! It was quite emotional to be able to hold and read these two exercise book diaries, knowing what had happened to Llwyd ap Iwan had actually handled them.
Last week, I again had the pleasure of visiting Amlwch Primary School to relate the story about the Llyn Cerrig Bach find. All the children from the junior classes had gathered in the hall and showed a keen interest, especially in the gang chain replica and the plaque copy that Alan has made.
Finally, this Thursday night, I’m looking forward to watching Neil Oliver’s programme on “The History of Celtic Britain.” The programme last week showed him standing by the Llyn Cerrig Bach artefacts cabinet at the National Museum in Cardiff talking about the Llyn Fawr cauldron. This week he will be showing and discussing the gang chain from Llyn Cerrig Bach.