Posted - 27-11-2015 No Comments


Silver, lead and zinc in the archives

cwmystwyth plan

Cwmystwyth. Part of the underground workings in 1909. (NLW, Wyndham Powell 6/41).

Cwmystwyth has been mined, off and on, since about 1500 BC, with workings for silver, lead and zinc dating from Roman (1st century AD), early mediæval (9th-12th centuries) and modern times (18th-early 20th centuries). The gold  (c.2000 BC) hints at an even earlier Neolithic/early Beaker presence in the area.

The archival evidence, unfortunately, only deals with the most recent period of activity. The papers of a family of Cornish mining captains (NLW, Francis family mining papers) include a report on the mine, 1845, and correspondence about machinery and work at the mine, 1845-1847. A project to re-open the Cwmystwyth mine in 1951 collected copies of previous mining companies’ annual reports, 1849-1885, reports on the mines and the geology, 1896-1930, notes and plans of sections and levels, 1909 (pictured), the copy letterbook of the Cwm-Ystwyth Mines Ltd, July-Nov. 1917 (pictured), and notes on the 1929 re-opening of the mine (NLW, Wyndham Powell 6/41).


Cwmystwyth Mines Ltd.

Cwmystwyth Mines Ltd. Parts of the mine depended on water power in 1917. (NLW, Wyndham Powell 6/41).

The papers of an Aberystwyth geologist (NLW, O. T. Jones papers), gathered in the preparation of his ‘Lead and zinc : the mining district of north Cardiganshire and west Montgomeryshire’ (Mem. Geol. Survey, vol. xx, 1922), include prospectuses, notes to shareholders, and reports relating to Cwmystwyth, 1842-1902. Also maps and plans, 1879-1912, including such evocative names as the Pumpsink, Comet and Belshazzar lodes.

The Library’s map collections include a surface plan, c.1845 (MAP 9120), longitudinal section, 1846 (Nanteos 109), and sections and plans, 1879-1912 (O.T. Jones A1-3), while several of the Library’s photographic collections (including Lead Mines, Mines & Quarries and Pigs & Ingots) include pictures of the surviving ruins and devastated landscape of Cwmystwyth mine.

Further maps, papers and photographs are at Ceredigion Archives.
Stephen Benham

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Collections / Exhibitions / News and Events

The National Library collaborates to hold the first scientific exhibition in its history.

In arranging the exhibition The Secret Working of Nature: Robert Hooke and early science, the first scientific exhibition in its history, the National Library of Wales co-operated with a number of other individuals and institutions. The exhibition includes valuable items which have attracted a new audience to the Library, and a series of lectures were arranged to coincide with the exhibition.
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The centrepiece of the exhibition is the book entitled Micrographia by Robert Hooke which was published by the Royal Society 350 years ago, in 1665. Hooke invented the compound microscope, an example of which is seen in the exhibition and he used it in his experiments in the meetings of the Royal Society. Through his microscope Hooke looked at insects, plants and bird’s feathers. These were shown in Micrographia in great detail. Hooke uses the book to suggest a new way of doing science, through careful observation and recording the results. This became a tenet of scientific practice. Many of his observations were drawn on impressive copper-plated illustrations for example, the flea, which opens to four times the size of the book.

Central to the exhibition is the microscope and telescope which were borrowed from the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. No other early examples of the telescope and microscope can be seen in Wales, and the Library is grateful to the Museum for borrowing them so that a comprehensive story of early science could be conveyed. Lucy Blaxland, the Head of Collections at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford compiled and placed both instruments in the Hengwrt Gallery, with the rest of the items coming from the Library’s collections. The instruments originated from the period of Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton’s founding of the Royal Societ, and along with Micrographia and other books such as the Principia by Isaac Newton, other contributions by Welshmen such as Robert Recorde, William Jones, Thomas Pennant and Edward Lhuyd can be seen.microscope2

Another famous image from the book is Hooke’s study of cork under a microscope. Through this, he was the first, though without realizing it initially, to observe cellular structures in plants. This will be the subject of the first of the two lectures that remain in the series. This will be given by Professor Deri Thomas of Bangor University. The lecture will be entitled  Opening the door of life: what exactly did Robert Hooke find when he discovered the cell? This will be held on December 2. It will be in Welsh and simultaneous translation to English will be provided.  On January 6, Professor Sarah Hutton of the University of York will be lecturing in English on Stranger than Fiction: Robert Hooke, Margaret Cavendish and satire on seventeenth-century science.

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Wales and Armenia

2015 is the centenary of the Armenian massacre. The Ottoman Empire was part of the Axis Powers fighting France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Russia. The Armenian people were a significant ethnic group within the Ottoman Empire and were deemed to be a threat to the Empire’s security. The background to this perception had a long history and the Armenians were subjected to persecution by the Ottoman state, one wave of persecution which excited much attention and condemnation was in the period 1894 to 1896. The First World War aggravated the Ottoman state’s paranoia and using the pretext that the Christian Armenians would help Russia against the Ottoman Empire led to the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian people which claimed 1.5 million victims, an act widely regarded as genocide.


'Armenia : the story of an eye witness' by William Willard Howard. This item is from the Library's Gladstone Pamphlets Collection.

Cover page of ‘Horrors of Armenia : the story of an eye witness’ by William Willard Howard. It was published in New York by The Armenian Relief Association in 1896. This item is from the Library’s Gladstone Pamphlets Collection.


The National Library of Wales’s collections reflect the concern many people felt at the time about the plight of the Armenian people. Examples from the Gladstone Collection of pamphlets show the former Prime Minister’s interest in the events during the 1890s, where several pamphlets detail the persecution of the Armenians from 1894 to 1896. Some of the pamphlets contain Gladstone’s handwritten notes in the margin.


Gladstone's handwriting in the margin of 'Dying Armenia and Christian Europe' by Pere Fx. Charmetant. 'v' is short for the Latin 'vide' and shows his approval of the text.

W.E. Gladstone’s handwriting in the margin of ‘Dying Armenia and Christian Europe’ by Le Pere Felix Charmetant. Published in London by James Nisbet for the Information (Armenia) Bureau in c. 1896. ‘v’ is short for the Latin ‘vide’ and shows Gladstone’s approval for highlighting the plight of the Armenians.


The Library also holds the bilingual newspaper published in 1896 in Bangor, ‘Wales and Armenia = Cymru unllais’. It was a political periodical published in response to the Armenian Massacres of 1894-1896 by Turkish troops and Kurdish irregulars. The periodical’s main contents were articles on the massacres and in support of the Armenians and reports on the activities of the Welsh movement in support of the Armenians. Originally a daily publication it was published irregularly after five issues. The periodical’s editor was Edward Vernon Arnold (1857-1926) who was Professor of Latin at the University College of North Wales from 1884 to 1924 and a Sanskrit scholar.



Wyn Thomas

Posted - 23-11-2015 No Comments

Collections / News and Events / Uncategorized

The Vaux Passional

To celebrate #LoveDigital week the National Library of Wales has released high quality digital images of one of its most important and finely decorated medieval manuscripts, The Vaux Passional, into the public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Many of these images illustrate an account of the Passion of Christ and they also include, perhaps the earliest known portrait of Henry Tudor, later Henry VIII.

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Posted - 13-11-2015 No Comments

Collections / News and Events

Remembering For Peace

On Armistice Day 2015 , I traveled down the M4 with my colleague, Paul McCann to Cardiff. We arrived at the Senate before 11:00am and found time to see the excellent Remembering For Peace exhibition, before climbing the stairs to the balcony. We then stood for the 2 minutes’ silence, to commemorate the end of the First World War and to remember the brave individuals who lost their lives.



Cymru dros heddwch 1



Before no time, we found the members of the Wales For Peace team, a project formed by the Welsh Centre For International Affairs; Craig Owen, Jane Harries, Noam Devey, Ffion Fielding, Hanna Huws and Fi Gilligan. The National Library of Wales had been working closely with the Wales For Peace team to create the focal point of the exhibition. The Welsh Centre For International Affairs decided to digitise the Welsh Book of Remembrance 1914-1918, as part of its activities to mark the centenary since the First World War. The book is kept in the Temple Of Peace in Cardiff, but by digitising and displaying the book on the web, everyone will have worldwide access to the information inside.  Although the book itself was displayed, the focus of the exhibition was on the interface, the result of the National Library of Wales’ metadata, digitisation, development, coding and design skills. It was immensely satisfying to see the book in its entirety on the web with a great viewer that filled the screen.



Dyma Craig Owen, pennaeth project Cymru Dros Heddwch, wrthi’n rhoi cyflwyniad ar drawsgrifio i aelodau’r cynulliad a’r cyhoedd

Here Craig Owen, head of the Wales For Peace project, is seen giving a presentation on transcription to the assembly members and the public.



Rhyngwyneb Llyfr Y Cofio. Wrth i wirfoddolwyr drawsgrifio’r wybodaeth sydd ar y sgrin, mae modd gwneud y data yn y llyfr yn gwbl chwiliadwy

The Welsh Book of Remembrance Interface



It truly was a special day, with Assembly Members and members of the public, fully engaged with the intuitive interface. AMs such as Rhun ap Iorwerth, David Melding, Dame Rosemary Butler, to name a few, thoroughly enjoyed their one-to-one transcription sessions. Transcribing the information will allow data to become fully searchable.



Craig Owen a Ffion Fielding o dîm Cymru Dros Heddwch a Paul McCann a Guto Morgan o’r Llyfrgell Genedlaethol

Craig Owen and Ffion Fielding from the Wales For Peace project and Paul McCann & Guto Morgan from the National Library.



Cymru dros heddwch 5

Dorothy Trace and Richard Davidson manage to find a relation using the interface



We hope the interface will be used for all forms of research, such as family history, PHD research, school and community projects, but above all, its main function is to help us realise that we should always work towards a better future.  For more information about The Book of Remembrance , visit:



Guto Morgan

Digital Access

Posted - 29-10-2015 No Comments


New Catalogue in December

A new Catalogue will be launched in December which will replace the Catalogue and Full Catalogue.

The timeframe has been revised (the original intention being to launch in November) in order to make further adjustments to the new Catalogue.

We would like to notify current users of the Library that there will be some changes that may affect their use of the Catalogue and require further action.

User history

Your ‘history’ as a user, which is the record of your past requests, will not be transferred to the new Catalogue.

If you wish to retain some of the information in your current ‘History’, you will need to make a copy before the new Catalogue is launched.

Specific searches

When using the new Catalogue, users will only be able to limit their searches to ‘Digital’, ‘Subscriptions’ and ‘In the Library’. These are defined as follows:

Everything: Search NLW collections and subscribed external digital content

Digital: Search NLW digital collections and subscribed external digital content

Subscriptions: Search only subscribed external content

In the Library: Search only NLW collections

Once you have entered your search, you will be able to filter those results using the facets which appear on the left-hand side of the page.

If you wish to limit your search to specific collections or datasets that were available in the old Catalogue, you will need to begin your search from the following pages:

Wills (Page will be made available with the new Catalogue)

Welsh Ballad Collection (Page will be made available with the new Catalogue)

Theses Collection Wales (Page will be made available with the new Catalogue)

There is also a full list of Resources available on the Library’s website.

We hope that will find that the new Catalogue is an improvement and that you will soon become familiar with it.

We are committed to delivering services of the highest standard and would welcome any comments or suggestions that you may have through our Enquiries Service.

Posted - 26-10-2015 No Comments


‘A new visible world’: Robert Hooke and Matthew Francis

microscope2The invention of the microscope at the turn of the 17th century introduced the challenging and profoundly unsettling idea that there was more to the visible world than the eye could register. The potential of this new instrument was brought home to the general reader with the publication, in 1665, of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia. Written in vigorous and expressive English, and lavishly illustrated by Hooke and his friend, Christopher Wren, Micrographia showed how the new science of microscopy could enable us ‘to discern all the secret workings of Nature’. The book claimed new territory for scientific enquiry, demonstrating how even specks of dust or dirt, or droplets of pond water, contained ‘a new visible world’, crowded with intricate structures and unimagined life.


The poet and writer Matthew Francis has written a new sequence of poems inspired by Hooke’s Micrographia. In his earlier, highly acclaimed collections, Mandeville and Muscovy, Matthew explored medieval and early modern encounters with the strange, curious and exotic. He became interested in Hooke after writing his novel, The Book of the Needle, which is set during the period of the Civil War and Commonwealth.

‘I was curious to know about the subsequent period’, says Matthew, ‘Robert Hooke was part of the great explosion of scientific interest that succeeded the political experimentation of the Commonwealth. He was interested in everything: clocks, architecture, astronomy and physics, as well as the microscope. But there is something particularly fascinating about that discovery, by Hooke and some of his contemporaries, of a whole world too small to see with the naked eye. Hooke was a visionary, as well as a scientist, and the record he left us – in illustrations as well as language – of his visionary explorations, is the kind of material I love to work with in my poetry.’

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Matthew has recorded a selection of his Micrographia poems, together with the associated images for our exhibition The secret workings of nature: Robert Hooke and early science. And on Wednesday, 4 November at 1.15, he will be giving a talk at the Library entitled How much small there is: Robert Hooke’s Micrographia for the modern reader.




wal hengwrt micrographia2
Our exhibition will run at our Hengwrt Gallery until 9 January 2016.

Dr Geraint Phillips
Manuscripts Curator

Posted - 22-10-2015 4 - Comments

ArAgor / Collections / News and Events

Old maps, new content.

Digital copies of some of the most important maps held by the National Library are now available online for the first time. They include the oldest map in our collection, a printed copy of Ptolemy’s 2nd century map of Britain. Ptolemy’s ‘Prima Europe tabula’ is one of the earliest printed maps of the British Isles. It was originally published in 1486 in Ptolemy’s Geographia and is notable for the vivid blue sea; still as fresh and vibrant as the day it was painted. Claudius Ptolemy was one of the first cartographers. His work was rediscovered in Europe at the end of the 14th century and printed copies of this work helped to kick-start the cartographic revolution in Europe in the 1500s.

You can also see Humphrey Llwyd’s Cambriae Typus, the first printed map to show Wales as a separate region along with Christopher Saxton’s more accomplished but unpublished proof map of Wales from 1580 and a whole series of of 16th and 17th century county maps of Wales. The collection of nearly 40 maps is being released via Wikimedia Commons and Peoples Collection Wales.

As the Wikipedian in Residence at the Library, I have been releasing digital content into the public domain via Wikimedia Commons – a vast collection of free to use digital media – since January. Until now, this platform has been used to share digital content already available on National Library of Wales websites, but it struck me that it could also be used to share digitised material still waiting to be ingested into the Library’s online catalogue. By hand picking a small selection of such items, the images and relevant data can be uploaded manually to Wikimedia Commons, making them available to the public for the first time. In theory images could also be shared with other platforms, such as Flickr or Peoples Collection Wales in exactly the same way.

The upload of these maps is part of a trial to monitor the impact of releasing content in this way. We will be monitoring the use of these image on Wikipedia and beyond and thinking about how we could engage the public in reusing the images or creating better data or how such material could be used to educate and inspire.

Jason Evans
Wikipedian in Residence

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Posted - 15-10-2015 No Comments


Who’s Afraid of Women Photographers? 1839-1919


I recently had the privilege of overseeing the installation of items from the National Library’s collection in an exhibition at the Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris.  In an exhibition in one of the most well-known galleries in Paris, amongst approximately 230 other items from numerous galleries from around the world, three photographs by Mary Dillwyn and the Dillwyn Llewelyn album are on display. Who’s Afraid of Women Photographers? looks at the contribution of women to the growth of photography. With almost as many photographers represented as the years covered by the exhibition it’s exciting to see Mary Dillwyn getting the attention she deserves as Wales’ earliest female photographer and one of Britain’s most notable early female photographers.


If she were around to see this, would she have to pinch herself to believe that her work was on display in such as prestigious gallery in the same way as I did to believe that I was spending a day working there and ensuring that Wales was represented in this global collection of photography?




The exhibition can be seen between 14 October 2015 and 24 January 2016.

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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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