Some nineteenth century Cardiff archaeologists

January 13, 2023 0 Comments
Cardiff Naturalists’ Society

Nineteenth century Glamorgan saw the birth and rapid growth of an industrial working class. But also significant was the rise to prominence, and eventually to power, of an enlarged middle class.  Cardiff, though it failed at first to diversify industrially much beyond coal-exporting, found a role as the chief commercial and administrative centre of south-east Wales, providing employment for large numbers of professional and business people.  Many of them had moved from outside Wales, but here and elsewhere in the county the ‘indigenous’ middle class prospered, in some cases rising to ‘gentry’ status thanks to judicious marriages or successful self-improvement. (1)

In such conditions it might reasonably be expected that historical and antiquarian activity, almost entirely the preserve of the middle classes, would thrive.  There had been a long tradition of historical scholarship in Glamorgan, reaching back to Rice Merrick in the sixteenth century.  Edward Lhuyd corresponded with numerous antiquaries in the county in his preparations for Archaeologia Britannica, and dedicated the first volume to one of them, Sir Thomas Mansell of Margam. (2)  Philip Jenkins has pointed to a Llandaff ‘school’ of scholars in the early eighteenth century, including Thomas and Francis Davies and James Harris of Llantrisant, who corresponded with the antiquary Browne Willis about recent discoveries, and has posited a second ‘school’ at Cowbridge centred on Daniel Durel and Dr Bates. (3)  This activity possessed a definite ideological context: the Llandaff scholars in particular were High Church Tories locked in combat with their enemies the Whigs.  Their antiquarian researches were useful as ammunition in this struggle, for example during the campaign to restore the dilapidated cathedral at Llandaff.

When historical scholarship revived towards the end of the eighteenth century, the context was very different.  Welsh patriotism was a dominant motivation, and romanticism the prevailing feeling.  The detached, scientific approach of Lhuyd and his associates had given way to a more cavalier attitude to the remote past, often tinged with fantasy, wishful thinking and, in the case of Iolo Morganwg, deception.  In Iolo a fierce, local patriotism and political radicalism combined with a vision of an ancient Wales populated by Druids, bards and heroes to produce a large corpus of literary and pseudo-historical work.

However, although Iolo’s fantasies were perpetuated after his death by his son Taliesin and later elaborated by John Williams (‘Ab Ithel’) and others, the local antiquarian tradition was not dead.  Indeed, as H.J. Thomas has shown, Iolo himself was capable of descriptions of ancient monuments as accurate and observant as those of most of his contemporaries.  On one occasion he ‘excavated’ a rampart of a hillfort at Dunraven to discover its construction. (4)  This was the period of county histories, and at least two histories of Glamorgan were attempted between 1780 and 1810, by Thomas Edwards of Llandaff and William Davies of Cringell.

J.M. Traherne

The dominating figure of Glamorgan historiography in the first half of the nineteenth century was John Montgomery Traherne of Coedrhydarglyn.  Taherne belonged to a family that had risen from the professional middle-class to gentry status, through two profitable marriages contracted by his father.  Though he was ordained as a priest after his education at Oxford, his private means relieved him of the need to prolong his career in the church, and he devoted himself to local historical research, the major fruit of which was his edition of the Stradling correspondence (1840), and to the collection of manuscripts.  Traherne corresponded with many of the leading cultural figures of his day, and belonged to a circle of fellow antiquaries in Glamorgan, including Sir Thomas Mansel Franklin and Lewis Weston Dillwyn.  He was a founding member of the Neath Philosophical Society and the Royal Institution of South Wales.  Yet as a scholar he was reticent: most of his writings were pseudonymous or anonymous.  He seems to have shown little interest in historical or archaeological work outside his study.  In this he was typical of other Glamorgan historians of his time. (5)

There was thus little tradition of interest in the material remains of antiquity, despite the county’s rich heritage of prehistoric, Roman and medieval sites.  This, together with the lack of a single geographical focus and the prior existence of the Neath and Swansea societies, may account for the fact that no county antiquarian arose in Glamorgan in the nineteenth century.  In fact, no society devoted chiefly to archaeology appeared even locally.  The most significant corporate work was achieved under the aegis of a generalist society of relatively limited geographical scope, the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society.

Robert Drane

The Cardiff Naturalists’ Society was established by ‘a number of gentlemen interested in, and desirous of extending the study of natural history’. (6)  The leading figure from the beginning was a Cardiff chemist, Robert Drane.  It was in a small room behind his shop in Queen Street that a preliminary meeting was held in August 1867.  The only others present were Philip S. Robinson, the Librarian of the Free Library, and R. Rhys Jones.  The first general meeting took place on 11 September and was attended by twenty-four people.  A Committee was set up, with Robinson as Secretary and William Adams as President.  According to the Rules of the Society its object was ‘the practical study of natural history, geology and the physical sciences, and the formation of a museum in connection with the Free Library.’

The new society conformed to the type already represented in Glamorgan by the Neath Philosophical Society and the Royal Institution of South Wales at Swansea, but its objects owed much to the rise of a peculiarly Victorian institution, the field club.  Field clubs gave expression to an enormously increased appetite for knowledge about the natural world and the desire to acquire it in congenial social surroundings.  They flourished with particular vigour in the great new urban centres like Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol, from which excursions, sometimes by train, were arranged to hunt for botanical and geological specimens.  By 1867 perhaps 100 local field clubs existed in England, Wales and Scotland. (7)  One of them, the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club of Herefordshire, had links with the infant Cardiff society.  William Adams was an old member, and a joint meeting of the two bodies was held at Crumlin in June 1868.

A more immediate reason for the emergence of the Society was concern over the future of museum specimens in Cardiff.  A museum of sorts had existed in Cardiff since at least the early 1860s, in the hands of the Cardiff Literary and Philosophic Institute. But the Institute soon fell into debt and the museum into decay.  Fortunately, Cardiff adopted the Public Libraries Act in 1862 and in the following year the Free Library Committee succeeded in acquiring the contents of the museum, which by 1864 were housed on the top floor of premises in St Mary Street.  But here the museum again stagnated, and it was one of the immediate objects of the new Naturalists’ Society to revive and augment it. (8)

The growth of the Society was at first rather slow – by the end of 1868 the twenty-six original members had expanded to seventy-four – but the following year saw a remarkable increase to 244 members.  Clearly it was fulfilling a long-felt need.  In large part this initial success was due to the full programme of events arranged for members.  These included not only excursions during the summer months to sites of scientific or antiquarian interest within and beyond the area the Society recognised as its province (the part of Glamorgan bounded by the Ogmore and Rhymney rivers and Hirwaen, Merthyr and Rhymney), but also lectures and the inevitable ‘conversazioni’ so dear to contemporary cultural societies.  From 1873 courses of public lectures of scientific interest were organised, which helped to advertise the Society to a wider audience.  The Society was somewhat ahead of its time in admitting ‘ladies’ as full members; this too no doubt boosted interest.  Despite a crisis in 1871, when the collector of subscriptions left with the Society’s money and many members were lost, membership figures continued to rise, reaching a peak in 1876 of 483, a sum not exceeded until the end of the century.  With subscriptions of 5s a year, financial stability was assured.

Where did archaeology fit into the Society’s scheme?  At first, hardly at all.  The original rules do not mention it as an area of study.  An account of a field trip in 1868 is revealing:

At Dinaspowis a halt was called, and the carriages were left, for an examination of the ruins of the old Castle.  The remains, however, are too slight to afford much idea, except to experienced archaeologists, of the original appearance of the fortress, and the lichens and mosses proved of greater interest that the walls on which they grew. (9)

But this neglect did not survive for long.  Many visits were paid to archaeological sites.  In 1868-9, for example, to Caerphilly Castle, St Mellons Church and Caerleon, where the guide was J.E. Lee, who in June 1872 gave members a lecture on ‘chambered tumuli’, with a description of his excavations at St Nicholas.  In 1871 the Society’s rules were amended so that it could study not only natural history and the physical sciences, but also ‘other objects of interest’, to take account of the fact that ‘although the Society does not profess archaeology, it does to some extent practise it’.  At last, in 1873, archaeology was admitted by name, to the pleasure of some and the disapproval of others.  J. Milward commented,

Our Society has sometimes ventured on archaeological grounds.  This has been held by some as trespassing; and I have been the witness of some shrewd sneers, of which we have been the object …  I maintain that archaeology is a chapter in natural science, and therefore a perfectly legitimate study for our Society.  I should ill preach the unity of science were I to yield on this point.  Is a chambered tumulus less germane to natural history that the nest of a swallow? (10)

A similar defence of archaeology as a science was made by George E. Robinson in his presidential address in 1881.  He maintained that the Society was, ‘in fact, if not in name, an antiquarian as well as a naturalist society’.  This was, though, something of an exaggeration.  Few of the leading early figures of the Society were primarily antiquarians or archaeologists.  William Adams was a geologist, Franklin G. Evans a meteorologist and C. T Vachell a botanist.  But already, with the arrival of John Storrie as curator of the museum, archaeology was beginning to play an important role in the Society’s activities.

Edgar Herbert Thomas, John Storrie (National Museum Wales)

The museum, though owned and funded by Cardiff Corporation, was administered by the Society’s honorary curators, under the terms of an agreement made in 1876.  The collections, mostly of natural history specimens, grew rapidly, thanks especially to donations by members of the Society, such as William Adams.  But it soon became a frequent complaint that their accommodation was cramped and gloomy, and the opening hours inadequate.  In 1877 it was decided to appoint a part-time curator to arrange and classify the contents.  The man chosen was John Storrie, a Scot who had arrived in Cardiff in 1872 and who worked as a printer at the Western Mail. (11)  He had already come to the attention of William Adams and C.T. Vachell as a promising amateur botanist and geologist, and was a member of the Society. 

The effect of this appointment was immediate.  A considerable improvement was noted in the arrangement and labelling of the collections, and it became possible to open the museum for the first time every evening of the week and all Wednesday and Saturday.  Until now the contents of the museum illustrated primarily the geology, flora and fauna of the Cardiff area.  The arrival in 1872 of a Roman coin hoard found at Aberkenfig drew attention to the scarcity of archaeological material:

… we ought to hear of such discoveries much more frequently than we do.  Perhaps our inattention and lack of interest may account for the apparent poverty of the district in regard to antiquities … May the time come when a keen interest in archaeological studies, and a generous public spirit, will serve to secure for our museum a good exhibition of local antiquities. (12)

Cardiff Free Library

Storrie’s growing interest in archaeology, and especially in excavation, was soon to remedy this deficiency.  For reasons that are now unclear, he had left Cardiff in 1879, but he returned less than two years later to become full-time curator of the museum, just in time to superintend its transfer to the new Library and Museum building in Trinity Street.  In 1883 he took an active interest in the discovery of a Roman tessellated pavement at Caerwent, and succeeded in buying it for the museum.  In the course of removing it from its site he discovered cinders from a forge which he claimed included coal fragments.  In the following year he began an exploration in a cave at Coed-y-mwstwr near Pencoed, supported by a grant from the Society of almost £20, and found fragments of prehistoric animals and, in 1885, a flint flake associated with animal bones.  Storrie’s model was probably William Pengelly, whose famous excavations in Kent’s Cavern, near Torbay, begun in 1858 and completed in 1883, were influential in finally establishing the great antiquity of man by proving the contemporaneity of worked tools and extinct mammals.  Pengelly came to Cardiff to give a lecture on his discoveries in October 1884, and visited the Coed-y-mwster cave.  Storrie intended to continue his explorations in 1885, but the Society felt unable to grant further money, and a sub-committee was set up to form a special fund.  Eventually the work, hindered by Storrie’s ill-health, petered out in 1886, little fresh material having come to light.  However, the results of the excavations were preserved in the Cardiff museum and gave a welcome boost to the archaeological collections.

It was not long before Storrie’s remarkable nose for antiquities again procured results.  In August 1887, while on holiday in Llantwit Major, he discovered the site of a Roman villa in a field called Caermead, about three-quarters of a mile from the town.  The field contained mounds, the nature of which had puzzled him for several years.  His account of the preliminary investigation gives a flavour of the ingenuity of the man:

It being an exceedingly dry season I was particularly struck with the quality and quantity of the water in the well there, and it occurred to me that it was such a spring as would be selected were a permanent camp or village founded.  Choosing a spot about midway between the mounds and the spring I sunk a hole with my geological hammer a yard square and a yard deep, thinking that if water had been carried between the two places for any great length of time, pots would be broken by the way, and some shards might give a clue to the inhabitants. (13)

Storrie’s hunch proved correct.  Roman pottery sherds and other debris came to light immediately.  With the aid of a steel rod he had soon traced the position of every wall in the field.  When the find was reported, the Society Committee asked Storrie to direct excavations, starting in August 1888.  He began a trench to ‘give a section crossing the greatest number of walls, and diagonally so as to give the most information as to their arrangement’.  The finds unearthed were dramatic.  In two rooms in what was the north range of the villa he discovered the skeletons of forty-one people.  Their positions, along with evidence of fire, led him to conclude that a massacre of the building’s inhabitants had taken place. (14)  In one of the rooms was found a geometrical tessellated floor.  The excavation was clearly of major importance, and was visited not only by the Society on one of its field days but also by the Cambrian Archaeological Association, which was holding its summer meeting in Cowbridge.  Yet the Society was reluctant to continue what Storrie had begun and to uncover the whole plan of the villa.  Admittedly it had spent over £73 on the work and its total expenditure exceeded its income in 1889, but almost £60 had been received in donations towards the dig and a special fund could have been established.  One suspects that an anti-archaeological prejudice still survived among a proportion of the membership.  When the trench was filled in, care was taken to preserve the tessellated floor by cementing its edges, for the sake of future archaeologists.  The portable finds were deposited in the museum in Cardiff.

Edwin Seward

The next archaeological initiative came from a different quarter.  Edwin Seward, an architect and Society member, had the idea in 1885 of establishing a record and map of surviving Glamorgan antiquities.  No systematic record of antiquities in the county had ever been attempted, and Seward hoped not only to gather together existing knowledge but also to uncover hitherto undiscovered examples.  His impulse was in part nostalgia for the age before hectic industrialisation had engulfed the area.

In Glamorganshire we cease to be surprised at that innate progressiveness which makes towns and villages sprout up on bare heaths and mountain sides, and therefore a record giving due regard and reverence to the old orderings of things may be an influential check on some of the ordinances of the new. (15)

In November 1890 the Society set up a committee to put the idea into practice, with Seward as secretary and C.T. Vachell as chairman.  A circular was issued to members explaining the aims of the survey and inviting contributors.  Emphasis was to be on the pre-Norman period, ‘as that concentration of work will tend to give clearer results at first.’  Interested members were asked to select an area of interest to them, inform the committee of their choice, and record antiquities under appropriate headings, including brief descriptions and noting locations on Ordnance Survey maps.

Seward’s ambitions extended beyond the Society’s confines.  The attention of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, due to meet in Cardiff in August 1891, was drawn to his plans, and the Association’s Anthropological Section opened discussions with him.  The eventual outcome was the formation of a Committee of the Association to work on the project alongside the Society’s committee.

At first work proceeded quickly, James Bell being an especially assiduous contributor, but later progress slowed, as might have been expected, given the voluntary nature of the enterprise and the vagueness of its methodology.  One complication was an alteration, made during the period of Seward’s presidency of the Society in 1893-4, to the geographic area of the Society’s operations: it was now to be all territory within a radius of thirty miles from Cardiff in every direction except south, a considerable extension.  Nothing further is heard of the survey after 1892, and when in 1898 the Society was asked by the Ordnance Survey to help in the revision of its survey of antiquities in eastern Glamorgan the Society had to appoint an entirely new sub-committee to deal with the request, no mention being made of Seward’s work.

John Ward

Seward, however, did leave a more lasting legacy.  As we have seen, the Society embraced a wide variety of interests and disciplines.  It became obvious before long that it would not be possible to cater for all of them adequately within a single, generic forum.  In 1875 a Geological Section was established to satisfied those members who wished to pursue geology more intensively than had been possible up to then.  It was followed by three other Sections, the Astronomical in 1881, and the Microscopical and Biological, and the Physical and Chemical, both in 1887.  The setting up of an Archaeological Section was first suggested in 1887 by T.H. Thomas, an artist and active supporter of the Society, but it was not until 1894 that it came into existence.  Seward became its secretary when a committee was formed in April of that year.  The committee included J.S. Corbett, T.H. Thomas, C.H. Vachell and John Ward, a native of Derby who had been appointed curator of the Cardiff Museum in 1893.  A circular was issued inviting members to join the new Section in its work of recording, discovering and preserving archaeological objects; as a result, fifty-five members, including the Marquis of Bute and Lord Tredegar, joined.  The Section was to meet once a month during the winter for the reading of papers and summer visits would be arranged to sites of interest, all for a membership fee of 2s 6d a year. (16)

The precise context of the Section’s birth is unclear, but it took place at a time when archaeology featured unusually prominently in the Society’s activities.  Apart from Seward’s survey, T.H. Thomas and the photographer T. Mansel Franklin were engaged in a study of the inscribed crosses of Glamorgan, plaster casts of two of which had been made for the Cardiff museum: these became the nucleus of an extensive cast collection.  The museum itself, overcrowded and underfunded for so long, was entering a new era: it now benefited from the product of its own halfpenny rate, and plans were being prepared for a move to a new building.  And John Storrie was also planning further excavations.  In June 1893 the Society had visited the prehistoric lake village at Glastonbury, and Storrie was soon roaming the Cardiff area for possible local examples.

It seemed a propitious time for the Society to establish an archaeological offshoot.  The Society’s Committee was expectant: ‘It is confidently hoped that this section of the Society will accomplish important work in our district, where there is so much to be done’. (17)    The Cambrian Archaeological Association welcomed the new body, for what it admitted were self-interested reasons:

The district around Cardiff should prove a good training school for a new generation of antiquaries full of youth and vigour, who, when they arrive at maturity, will no doubt join the older Association, and help to strengthen it by an infusion of new blood. (18)

J. Romilly Allen, a leading Cambrian and editor of Archaeologia Cambrensis, was characteristically prickly about the Section’s failure to recognise the Association’s work:

I have seen the circular you have issued, but it contains no reference to the Cambrian Archaeological Association, nor to the work already done by our society in the district you propose to explore. (19)

But he offered the Section a hand in the ethnographic and archaeological survey of Wales being planned, and T.H. Thomas was granted a seat on the Cambrians’ committee as the Society’s representative,

Yet within a short time the Section was moribund.  It appears to have held only two events.  The first was a highly significant one, a visit in July 1894 to Gelli-gaer, where the rector pointed out the outlines of the Roman fort and promised fragments of Roman pottery to the Cardiff museum.  This was the origin of the excavations which began on the site five years later.  The second event as a field walk of truly Victorian length in the mountains west of Margam, which took in many of the hillforts of the area.  Perhaps the diet of ‘hard walking, high thinking and frugal fare’ recommended to the Section by its affable but amateur President, Canon Thompson, proved too spartan for its members.  Certainly the Section was soon ailing.  The most important archaeological events of these years, the excavations at Ely and at Gelli-gaer, owed nothing to the existence of the Section.

It was at Ely that John Storrie had come to rest in his search for a local Glastonbury.  In April 1894 he was at the racecourse there to take photographs of the horses.  He took advantage of the height afforded by several small mounds, which soon yielded fragments of evidently ancient pottery.  He immediately reported his find to the members of the Society’s Committee and persuaded them to authorise trial excavations.  This exploratory work almost exhausted the Society’s grant of £25, and it had been decided to fill in the trenches when further donations from members enabled work to continue, with the aid of first one and then two labourers.  What Storrie had begun to unearth – funds dried up in the autumn of 1894) – was part of a Roman villa.  Later students of the site, John Ward and Mortimer Wheeler, criticised Storrie harshly for his handling and interpretation of the site, and for his inadequate publication of them, but he was more careful in his examination of a small iron foundry associated with the villa, confidently identifying the types of ore and coal found.  A quantity of manganese ore he had analysed at the Dowlais Iron Works, and concluded that it had been imported from Spain, for the purpose of hardening or steeling the iron produced at the foundry – an interesting example of the early application of scientific laboratory techniques to the results of archaeological excavation.

St Baruc’s Chapel, Barry Island

The following year saw the climax of Storrie’s excavating career, when he was asked by Lord Windsor to survey Barry Island in advance of building work.  The survey was multidisciplinary, embracing the area’s history and archaeology, geology, entomology and botany, and was funded entirely by Lord Windsor.  Among the excavations Storrie conducted were digs into Bronze Age tumuli at Friars Point and at St Baruc’s Chapel. (20)

More important than either the Ely or the Barry Island excavations was the uncovering of the Roman fort at Gelli-gaer, which began under the Society’s auspices in 1899 and was to continue until 1901.  Charles Vachell had not forgotten the Archaeological Section’s visit to Gelli-gaer in 1894, and when Doran Webb addressed the Society in January 1899 on the antiquities of Salisbury Plain he persuaded the speaker to inspect the site.  Webb strongly advised excavation.   The Society’s Committee enthusiastically endorsed his suggestion and voted £25 to conduct a preliminary exploration.  Management of the dig was placed in the hands of a body called the Antiquities Survey Sub-Committee.

This sub-committee had been set up by the Society in 1898 in response to a request from the Ordnance Survey for assistance in revising its survey of antiquities in eastern Glamorgan.  Membership included most of the leading archaeologists of the Society, such as John Ward and J.W. Rodger.  At the same time the Society discussed whether the Archaeological Section should be revived.  In the end it rejected the possibility, deciding instead that archaeological matters should be referred to the new sub-committee for the time being, in the hope that the Section might evolve from it.

Permission to excavate at Gelli-gaer was obtained from the landlord, Capel Hanbury Leigh, and it only remained to appoint a director.  Here problems arose, since at first no one could be found able or competent enough to take on the job.  Finally, C.H. James was prevailed on to superintend the dig, but only on the understanding that other Society members would help him as much as possible.  This arrangement was to prove disastrous, as later seasons at Gelli-gaer showed.  One invaluable helper James could rely on was George Seaborne, a local member from Hengoed, who was responsible for hiring and paying labour.  Specialist assistance came from J.W. Rodger and John Ward, surveyor and draughtsman respectively.  Only five weeks were available before wet weather ended the dig, but in that time enough was revealed by a trial trench across the site of a rampart and internal buildings to convince the excavators that here was a well-preserved Roman fort of considerable importance.  The case for a complete excavation was undeniable.

Christopher Williams, T.H. Thomas (1902) (National Museum of Wales)

Two problems had to be overcome before work at Gelli-gaer could resume: the lack of a body to manage the excavation, and the lack of funds available to the Society to finance it.  The Antiquities Survey Sub-Committee had finished its task and reported to the Ordnance Survey, and the possibility again arose of resuscitating the Archaeological Section.  This time circumstances were brighter.  The Gelli-gaer dig had created much interest and a revived Section could be expected to receive substantial support.  In addition, it could be very useful in generating money to fund the dig.  Accordingly, on 27 March 1900 a meeting of Society members interested in archaeology was convened.  J.S. Corbett was elected President, with five vice-presidents, including C.H. James, Edwin Seward, the veteran Robert Drane and T.H. Thomas, and a committee including John Ward, J.W. Rodger and John Storrie.  The revived Section set to work with vigour.  At the second meeting of the committee a resolution was passed that it was most important that the excavations at Gelli-gaer be continued with as little delay as possible and that in view of the continuance of the work the parent Society be asked to appeal to the public for funds for this purpose. (21)  It was thought that £100 at least would be needed for the current season.  A subscription fund was duly established with two major donations of £25 each from the Society and Cardiff Museum, and supplemented by sums from the Marquis of Bute, Lord Tredegar, Lord Windsor and many other individuals.  By the end of 1900 over £137 had been collected.  Permission to continue the dig was granted by Mr Hanbury Leigh, and a detailed plan of campaign could be drawn up to accomplish its purpose, the exposure of the detailed plan and construction of the Roman fort.

It was at this point that problems arose.  As in 1899 no one was willing or able to devote several months to directing the work of excavation.  It was therefore agreed that the Section’s Committee members, along with a few others interested in the work, would take it in turns to supervise the dig, each undertaking to visit the site as often as possible during his week of duty.  As Ward wrote in his report of the excavation,

It is one thing to have a willing heart and to be on a rota for a certain week, but it is another to find one’s self free to act when the time comes.  Business calls are not usually respecters of days.  It is not surprising, therefore, that some, whose names were in that document, failed to put in more than half a day during their week. (22)

At the start of his week a supervisor had first to make sense of the work already done, not an easy task.  At the end he had little incentive to complete his area thoroughly before handing over to another.  No consistency could be maintained in record-keeping or the labelling of finds.  To make matters worse, the number of labourers fluctuated from week to week, and was never sufficient.  From May to July the dig proceeded slowly and unsatisfactorily.  Then William Riley, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Section, employed an extra nine labourers at his own expense to explore the ramparts of the fort, and with some interruptions supervised them himself.  Despite this boost it proved impossible to complete the dig before the winter and a further season became necessary.  Work resumed in June 1901 on the central buildings of the fort, supervised by Riley and the Rector of Gelli-gaer, and finally two labourers were retained for several weeks to help John Ward complete operations and enable him to write up his report.

Organisationally the excavation had been a shambles.  John Ward was only asked to undertake the writing of the report in October 1900. He had visited the site rarely during much of the operations, and inherited few notes.  Nevertheless, he succeeded in translating the maze of trenches, ‘overgrown with weeds and often half-filled with soil’, into the most detailed picture of a small Roman fort yet uncovered in Britain.  His report, over 100 pages in length and accompanied by numerous plans, sections, drawings and photographs, was far in advance of any account of an excavation in Wales hitherto published.   It was originally published as a special issue of the Society’s Transactions in 1902, but a separate edition was published in the following year by Bemrose of Derby.  It established Ward’s reputation as a specialist in Romano-British studies.

Francis Haverfield

The excavation at Gelli-gaer had received nationwide attention long before Ward’s publication.  Reports appeared in the pages of the Athenaeum, the Times, the Antiquary and elsewhere, as well as in the local press.  Francis Haverfield, the most eminent scholar of Roman Britain, visited the site on several occasions and gave Ward considerable help in his research, especially in providing comparative evidence from the Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall, where he had been working for the Cumberland Excavation Committee for many seasons.  Ward himself visited the Wall once in the course of preparing his report.  Haverfield also contributed an appendix to the report, on the plans of Roman forts.

A reader of Ward’s report today cannot fail to notice the contrast between the meticulous description of the plan of the fort and the cursory, almost cavalier treatment of the excavation:

The chief aim of the search was to disclose the plan and construction of the fort, as it could hardly be expected that the ‘finds’ from a purely military site would be as many and varied as those from a villa or a city; whereas a complete and reliable plan would be a decided gain to archaeological knowledge. (23)

The method of excavation was designed to reveal all the internal buildings with as little shifting of soil as possible.  Where walls were visible on the surface they were followed by the spade.  Elsewhere, parallel diagonal trenches were dug.  Some buildings were completely uncovered.  In this way no building could be missed.  The result was what became a textbook example of the plan of a Roman fort. (24)  While Ward was able to decipher the structural detail of the fort successfully, there was little he could do with the small finds.  Though the workmen had been encouraged to preserve them, the collected finds, mainly potsherds, were dumped in a shed at the end of each day, and by the end of the dig there were several wheelbarrow-loads, unsorted and unlabelled.  Ward made limited use of the Samian ware from the site (the work of Dragendorff was becoming known in Britain) and a handful of coins to date the construction of the fort to c74-8 CE.  The apparent lack of rebuilding suggested to him that the period of occupation was short.  In both these conclusions he was proved wrong, but only by subsequent fresh discoveries.

It had been an expensive excavation.  The final cost exceeded £400.  Almost £300 had been paid out in wages; the rest had financed the filling-in of the site, the rent of the field and other expenses.  By the end of 1902 over £130 had still to be found after all donations to the excavation fund had been counted.  The result was that when, encouraged by the success of Gelli-gaer, the Archaeological Section Committee searched for another site to explore, it was on the strict understanding that the parent society should incur no cost or liability arising from an excavation. (25)  Castell Morgraig, a small fortified site at Thornhill, just to the north of Cardiff, was therefore a lucky or a prudent choice.  The owner of the site was none other than Storrie’s patron and benefactor of the Gelli-gaer campaign, Lord Windsor.  As with Gelli-gaer the site was already well known to Society members.  John Ward had visited it in 1895, though it was then hidden in dense undergrowth, and again in 1899, when a rough plan was made, and he had discussed its identification with members of the Society of Antiquaries in London (a Roman signal station was suggested as one possibility).  After a visit in May 1903 the Section Committee asked Lord Windsor, through his agent, Mr R. Forrest, for permission to excavate.  Forrest not only agreed, but also promised to fund two or three workmen for up to a month, in exchange for a report and plan.

Castell Morgaig

John Ward was appointed director of the dig, and he began work in July.  It soon became clear that the site was not Roman, but a small, and possibly unfinished thirteenth century castle.  The Section managed to persuade Lord Windsor to resume the dig the following summer, which enabled Ward to uncover the whole plan.  The only expense it seems to have incurred itself was the sum of 13s, paid in compensation for damage to a sheep ‘alleged to have fallen into one of the excavations.’ (26)  Work at Castell Morgraig , which thanks to its owner’s generosity continued into 1905, did not cease when excavation was complete.  Great care was taken to ensure that the exposed remains did not relapse into ruins.  The Section set up a sub-committee to recommend the best way of preserving the walls of the fortification.  This task, which included clearing vegetation, mortaring the masonry and enclosing the whole site, was accomplished during the summer, again at the expense of Lord Windsor.  The latter had spent in all £355 on the Castell Morgraig project – almost as much as the cost of the much larger and more important dig at Gelli-gaer.

Where no wealthy patron could be found it was clear that the biggest obstacle to future excavation work by the Section would be finance.  And so it proved.  In February and March 1906 the Section Committee considered various candidates for exploration, finally agreeing to Ward’s suggestion that Storrie’s unfinished excavations at Ely racecourse should be continued.  The cost was estimated, perhaps conservatively, at £70, and an application for that amount was sent to the parent Society.  William Sheen, the Society’s Secretary, replied that a decision on the application had been postponed, since ‘the diminishing funds of the Society did not permit so large a grant being made at the present moment.’ (27)  There was a good deal of justification for this position.  The Society’s income had been adversely affected by a drop in membership since the turn of the century.  But one might also detect a revival of the suspicion of archaeological activity that had marked earlier periods of the Society’s history.  In any event the Section responded by sending every member of the Society’s Committee an aggrieved letter protesting at the dismissal of its request, pointing out that no Society funds had been used for excavations since Gelli-gaer, and reaffirming archaeology as one of the Society’s central concerns: ‘… such an exploration is essentially the work of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society’, and any further delay ‘would cripple [its] usefulness’.  But there was no change of heart.  The application was submitted again in December 1906, but the Section soon admitted defeat and had to be content with a small Society grant of £15 to survey local earthworks.  All Ward could do was to reinterpret the notes that Storrie had left him of the Ely excavation of 1894, and it was left to Mortimer Wheeler to examine the site afresh in 1922.

Gelli-gaer bath-house (1908)

So matters rested till the spring of 1908, when the Section again turned its attention to Gelli-gaer.  The excavation of the main fort had been an undisputed success and had aroused interest far beyond the borders of the Society’s territory.  There were grounds for believing that important finds still to be made there could add to the Society’s reputation.  Adjoining the site of the fort was a field named Gaer Fach, itself suggestive of Roman settlement, in which during dry seasons wall-like mounds could be traced.  The Section Committee decided to allocate £10 to a preliminary excavation of this field, to be conducted by an Exploration Sub-Committee consisting of Messrs Corbett, Ward, Clarke and Bodger.  The result, on 5 May 1908, easily repaid the investment.  Foundations of a Roman building of considerable size came to light, including a concrete-lined circular room with walls standing up to five feet in height.  Several flue and hypocaust tiles were also found, as well as the course of a road continuing the fort’s Via Principalis.  The excavators had no difficulty in concluding, using analogies from other Roman forts in Britain, that they were dealing with the annex of the fort and, contained within it, the garrison baths.  Here was an opportunity what had not yet been achieved elsewhere, the complete plan of a fort annex. (28)  A report of the dig was sent immediately to the Society, with a recommendation that an adequately funded programme of excavation should continue.  The cost was estimated at £150.  This time the Society was more amenable and voted £30 towards the fund.  A further £25 came from the Committee of the Welsh Museum, and a general appeal was made for contributions from the public.  Enough funds had been raised by May 1909 for excavation to begin in earnest.  William Clarke directed the work and provided the men and tools, John Rodger acted as surveyor and John Ward prepared notes for the final report.

Physical conditions were unfavourable, Ward reported.   The rain was almost incessant.  The men nicknamed Gelli-gaer ‘The Waterworks’.  Appropriately the focus of the excavation was the bath complex, where all the walls were exposed and the rooms cleared of debris.  By the end of June a fairly complete plan had been recovered.  The work had been carried out carefully enough to enable Ward, who had visited the site almost daily, to distinguish several periods of alteration and reconstruction over a long period of time, a finding that tended to conflict with his belief that occupation of the fort had been brief.  Once again, Francis Haverfield accepted an invitation to give a great deal of assistance to the excavators. He suggested fruitful ways of proceeding with the dig (a telegram received from him after his visit read ‘Uncover north end to rotunda, trench rest’).  He inspected the coins and Samian ware found, and he used his influence in the wider archaeological world.  He wrote to The Times appealing for funds to finance the dig, and in 1910 played a part in the campaign to preserve the site from destruction at the hands of builders.  Another distinguished archaeologist interested in the excavation was Prof. R.C. Bosanquet, the leading figure of the Liverpool Committee for Excavation and Research in Wales and the Marches, to which the Society had been affiliated since 1908.

Gelli-gaer excavations, 1913

The excavation continued until the autumn, when two decisive finds were made in the ditch fill near the south-east gate of the fort: fragments of inscriptions, erected to mark the building of the stone fort and dedicated to the emperor Trajan.  These were datable to the period 102-112 CE.  Haverfield now abandoned Ward’s earlier date for the establishment of the fort, but overlooked Ward’s coin and pottery evidence of Flavian occupation of the fort site, with the result that the rectangular construction found in 1913 to the west of the fort was interpreted as a temporary camp used by the builders of the stone fort and was not considered as a possible earlier fort. (29)

The 1910 season saw a resumption of work, concentrated on the other half of the fort annex, apparently an industrial site, but of obscure use.  In the following year the previous excavations were filled in and work recommended by Haverfield was carried out.   In 1913 (wet weather prevented any work in 1912) the excavators explored the ‘camp’ referred to above, a level area near the fort interpreted as a parade ground, and a tile- and pottery-kiln south-east of the fort. (30)  And so came to an end a programme of excavation started fourteen years earlier that had transformed an obscure couple of fields into one of the best-known smaller Roman forts in Britain.  For all the shortcomings of the excavation methods, and making allowances for the expert help that Haverfield and others had supplied, it had been a remarkable achievement for a small band of workers and volunteers.

Gelli-gaer was the pinnacle of the Archaeological Section’s achievements in excavation.  Other digs followed it, but on a minor scale, as if it had almost exhausted the energies of its explorers.  In 1912, even before the final season at Gelli-gaer, the Section collaborated with the local committee of the Cambrian Archaeological Association in excavating a field, west of Llantwit Major church, labelled ‘monastery’ on the Ordnance Survey map.  But the results were disappointing.  Walls, possibly medieval, were discovered, but no intelligible plan could be arrived at.  It was decided to leave the trenches exposed until the following spring, in the hope that further investigation would help, but the resumed excavation only confused matters more. (31)  Also in 1912, the Section was granted permission by Glamorgan County Council to excavate a ‘prehistoric hearth’ at Radyr near Cardiff.  Work began in summer 1914, directed by John Ward, but could not be continued the following year, ‘owing to the difficulty of obtaining sufficiently skilled workmen’ – an effect, presumably, of the Great War. (32)

The War put an end to almost all the Sections’ activities, except for meetings, and even these had ceased by 1916.  Subscriptions were no longer collected, and there was a real danger that the Section would not survive when peace returned.  Several of its leading members had died during this period: Robert Drane in 1914 and T.H. Thomas the following year.  In 1919 its Secretary, John Rodger, left Cardiff to take up a government post in Bristol, and it proved difficult at first to find a successor.  When that successor appeared in 1920 the Archaeological Section entered a new era, and so did the whole world of archaeology in Wales.  For he was none other than the newly appointed Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales, thirty-nine year old Dr R. E. Mortimer Wheeler.

Mortimer Wheeler, c1930

If one had to specify a date when Welsh archaeology passed decisively from the hands of amateurs and gentlemen into those of professional archaeologists, it would be the day Wheeler arrived in Cardiff in August 1920.  In later life Wheeler was apt to give the impression that he had arrived in a desert and made it bloom by his own efforts (33), and it is true that during his six years in Wales he achieved remarkable results.  But it should not be forgotten that interest in archaeology was already strong in many parts of Wales, and that the key institution in the professionalisation of archaeology in Wales, the National Museum, had already been in existence for thirteen years. 

This seems an appropriate point to survey the rise of the National Museum from its beginnings in the museum built up originally by the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society and passed on it by the Corporation of Cardiff. (34)

The idea of a national museum for Wales had been the subject of debate sporadically for many years before the revival of national feeling in Wales in the 1880s.  The Cambrian Archaeological Association had discussed the question on a number of occasions and the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion had also taken an interest.  In 1876 F.W. Rudler, Professor of Natural Science at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, gave a lecture to the Society, in which he advocated the establishment of a national museum of natural history (to be located, of course, in Aberystwyth).  By the 1890s the demand for a national museum was no longer confined to small scholarly circles, but had become an almost obligatory element in the aims of the cultural leaders of Wales.  The museum was desired not merely for its own sake, but as a powerful symbol of renascent nationhood.  By 1890 it had been pointed out in Parliament by a number of Welsh MPs that whereas England and Scotland were allocated portions of the Museums Grant, Wales received nothing.  Three years later a debate on the subject took place in the House of Commons, and it was raised again on numerous occasions during the decade.  At the National Eisteddfod at Pontypridd in 1893 a national museum was adopted as the theme of the essay competition, and there was debate at the Cymmrodorion Section of the Eisteddfod, where D. Brynmor Jones pressed the case for a combined national library and museum.  The official response was consistently negative, and it was not until a formidable alliance of MPs, local authorities and university representatives had been forged that enough pressure could be brought to bear on the Tory government to achieve a change of policy.

Cardiff Corporation, which had called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to fund a national museum in Cardiff as early as 1894, played an important role in building this alliance. (35)  Its motives for seeking government funding for a national museum in Cardiff were mainly self-interested.  The Cardiff Museum, now run by the Corporation’s Library Committee, was by now a large, miscellaneous and popular collection.  Over 17,000 people visited it in 1896. But its accommodation was wholly inadequate.  It had to share a building with the municipal Free Library, where its rooms were small and inaccessible.  New premises were urgently needed.  In 1893 the doubling of the old farthing rate had improved the museum’s income, and money was set aside for a building fund.  Architect (Edwin Seward) and site (Park Place) were found, and plans were almost complete when in 1898 a new site was offered in the south-east corner of Cathays Park.  The building in this new, more eminent position would require more money than previously thought necessary.  Aspirations for the new institution began to grow and funding from further afield to seem even more attractive.  And so, at the instigation of the Museum Committee, the Parliamentary Committee of Cardiff Corporation passed a resolution in February 1899 calling for a scheme for a national museum to be drawn up.  This led in December 1901 to an invitation by the Corporation to the Welsh local authorities and the councils of the three Welsh university colleges to petition the government for funds to establish a national museum.

Assembling affirmative responses to Cardiff’s invitation took many months, but eventually enough support had been mustered for another parliamentary attempt to be made.  In March 1902 William Jones, MP for Arfon, pointing to the support that had been amassed in Wales, proposed that provision should be made for a Welsh national museum.  Although there was no immediate reaction, the Treasury indicated that the government would look favourably on a definite plan, if a representative Committee were to put one forward.  Accordingly, a conference was held of Chairmen of County Councils, the Principals of the colleges and the Chief Executive of the Central Board of Education.  Sir Isambard Owen was asked to draft a plan.  This stated the case for a single museum of antiquities, natural history and industry, but made no recommendation about location.  Shortly after the plan’s publication in March 1904 the government agreed financial help as soon as a special committee of the Privy Council had determined the location and government of the new museum (and of the new National Library, which was also to be established).  Now the former allies split into warring factions, as three different boroughs, Cardiff, Swansea and Caernarfon, asserted their claims to house the museum.  The ‘battle of the sites’ had begun.  No oral evidence or visitations were to be arranged and so each borough prepared for the Committee a written ‘memorial’ in support of its claim.

Caernarfon offered the grounds of the Edwardian castle and a total sum of £7,500 towards the cost.  Swansea proposed the site and contents of the Royal Institution of South Wales, two collections of art, a fund of £10,000 and a minimum of £1,000 a year derived from rate income.  Neither could seriously match Cardiff, whose submission, detailing every conceivable reason for its choice as location, occupied thirty-two pages and twenty appendices.  It offered the site in Cathays Park, the contents of the Cardiff Museum and Art Gallery (which had been adroitly renamed the Welsh Museum of Natural History, Arts and Antiquities in 1901-2), and the annual product of a halfpenny rate (£1,940) towards the maintenance of the museum.  In addition, a sum of £40,000 had been accumulated from a public appeal, a revealing reflection of the vast wealth Cardiff could command at this hight point in its economic history.  The Cardiff Naturalists’ Society also submitted a memorial to the Privy Council committee, outlining its own role in the foundation and continued prosperity of the Cardiff Museum.

It may appear that the Society’s role in the campaign was minor and secondary, but in fact many of its leading members were foremost among those pressing Cardiff’s case.  They included John Ward, the curator of the Cardiff Museum, T.H. Thomas, artist and archaeologist, and C.T. Vachell, who had championed the museum’s cause for over twenty years.

National Museum of Wales under construction, 1915

The result of the committee’s deliberations can scarcely have been in doubt.  On 8 June 1905 it announced that Cardiff should be the site of the National Museum.  Less than two years later the charter establishing the new institution had officially been enacted.  It came into being on 19 March 1907.  The planning and building of the Museum were a lengthy process, interrupted by the Great War and its aftermath.  It was not until 1922 that part of it was opened to the public, and the official opening by King George V did not take place until 1927.

What place did archaeology hold in the developing institution?  The first thing to be said is that archaeology and history represented only one part of the Museum’s responsibilities, and formed only one out of four departments, the others being Art, Geology and Botany.  The person appointed as the first Director, Dr William Evans Hoyle, previously curator of the University Museum in Manchester, was not an archaeologist but a zoologist.  Second, the collections of the Cardiff Museum, which formed the nucleus of the new Museum, and which had been formally handed over to its care in 1912, were not primarily archaeological; the emphasis during the museum’s early decades had been firmly on natural history, especially geology.  Nevertheless, archaeological material had been accumulated.  Among prehistoric finds was a hoard of Iron Age bronze objects found near Seven Sisters around 1875.  The collection of pre-Norman stones, begun in 1894, had grown large, and the beginnings of a collection of domestic and folk-life objects, ‘bygones’ in the terminology of the time, had already been made.  Selections from the collection were exhibited in a temporary museum building from June to October 1913 by John Ward.  At this time Ward was Curator of the Cardiff Collections, having been transferred to the National Museum in 1912.  By 1914 he had been promoted to Keeper of the Department of Archaeology.  The choice must have seemed an obvious and just one – Ward was the preeminent archaeologist in Wales and had long experience of museum work – and the outlook for the new Department promising.  Unfortunately, not only did the Great War and its aftermath of economic recession hinder the development of the museum and its building, Ward succumbed to a lengthy illness and was unable to carry out the responsibilities of his post to the full.

National Museum of Wales, 1922

So it was that when Wheeler arrived in Cardiff in 1920 he found a museum that had been founded with such energy and hope in a state of stagnation, and an Archaeology Department leaderless and undeveloped.   He would go on to reform the department and have a strong impact on the world of Welsh archaeology.  His assumption of the secretaryship of the Archaeology Section of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society revived that body after a long period of inactivity.  A vigorous programme of meetings, visits and field trips was arranged.  The invitation of distinguished visiting speakers, such as Robert Bosanquet and O.G.S. Crawford, may have played a part in increasing the number of members of the Section from 87 in 1920 to 185 in 1928.  In 1922 a financial appeal by the Society allowed Wheeler a dig on Cardiff Racecourse to elucidate Storrie’s Roman building.  Two years later the Society donated £25 towards Wheeler’s major excavation at Brecon Gaer and a further donation was made to the Caerleon excavation in 1927.  Conservation also became an interest.  The Society set up a fund to restore the porch of Old Beaupre Castle.  In 1927, the Society’s jubilee, the President, R.W. Atkinson, could say that of all the Society’s sections the Archaeological Section ‘seems to be the most prominent’.  Yet despite all this activity the Section had changed its character fundamentally.  It no longer initiated archaeological projects but acted mainly as a forum for archaeological discussion and education, and as a fund-raising agency, under the watchful eye of the National Museum.  Significantly, when Wheeler relinquished the post of Secretary on his promotion to the Directorship of the National Museum, his place was taken by his replacement as Keeper of Archaeology, Cyril Fox, who in turn was followed by his successor as Keeper, V.E. Nash-Williams.  In short, the Section no longer acted as an independent agent, but became the willing acolyte of the Archaeology Department of the National Museum.  In this it was fulfilling the role that Wheeler had assigned to all the local antiquarian societies in his grand scheme for the development of archaeology in Wales.


This paper was originally written in the early 1980s.  Corrections and updates would be welcome. 


1 Philip Jenkins, ‘The creation of an ‘ancient gentry’: Glamorgan, 1760-1840’, Welsh History Review, vol. 12, 1984-5, p. 29-49.

 2 F.V. Emery, ‘Edward Lhuyd and some of his Glamorgan correspondents:  view of Gower in the 1690s’, Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, vol. 6, 1969, p. 95-104.

3 J.P. Jenkins, ‘From Edward Lhuyd to Iolo Morganwg: the death and rebirth of Glamorgam antiquarianism in the eighteenth century’, Morgannwg, vol. 23, 1979, p. 29-47.

4 H.J. Thomas, ‘Iolo Morganwg vindicated: Glamorgan’s first field archaeologist’, Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Annual Report. 1983-4, part 2, p. 149-57.

5 Roy Denning, ‘The Rev. John Montgomery Traherne: a nineteenth-century antiquary’, Glamorgan Historian, vol. 4, 1967, p. 46-65.

6 Report and Transaction of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, 1867-8, p. 7.

7 See David Elliston Allen, The naturalist in Britain: a social history, Harmondsworth, 1976, p. 158-75 (Chapter 8: ‘The field club’).

8 A. W Sheen, ‘The history of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society’, Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc., vol. 60, 1927, p. 110-11; see also Report and Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc., vol. 15, 1883, p. 1-2; A.H. Lee, ‘Museums in Cardiff’, Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc., vol. 65, 1932, p. 12-29.

9 Report and Trans., 1867-8, p. 75.

10 Report and Trans., vol.5, 1873, p. 17.

11 See G. Beaudette, ‘An appreciation of the life and work of John Storrie, 1844-1901’, Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Annual Report, 1982-3, p. 115-27.

12 W.E. Winks, Honorary Curator, in Report and Trans., vol. 11, 1879, p. 47.

13 Report and Trans., vol. 20, 1888, p. 51.

14 Nash Williams (Arch. Camb., 1953, p. 89-163), who re-excavated the site, dismissed this interpretation of the human remains, but a more recent exploration by A.H.A. Hogg (Britannia, vol. 5, 1974, p. 225-50) tended to confirm Storrie’s view.

15 Report and Trans., vol. 23, 1891, p. 21

16 For the text of the circular see Arch. Camb., 1894, p. 328.

17 Report and Trans., vol. 26, 1893-4, p. 143.

18   Arch. Camb., 1894, p. 328-9.

19 Glamorgan Record Office, Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, Minutes of Committee, D/D CNS 1/2, Letter to President of Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, 12 July 1894.

20 Aileen Fox, ‘An account of John Storrie’s excavations on Barry Island in 1894-5’, Report and Trans., vol. 69, 1936, p. 12-38.

21 Glam. RO, D/D CNS A 1/1, Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, Archaeological Section, Minute book of Committee, 30 April 1900.

22 John Ward, The Roman fort of Gelli-gaer in the county of Glamorgan, London, 1903, p. 17.

23 Ward, Gelli-gaer, p. 15.

24 See, for example, R.G. Collingwood and Ian Richmond, The archaeology of ancient Britain, London, 1969, p. 35-7.

25 Glam. RO, D/D CNS A 1/1 , Archaeological Section, Minute book of Committee, 22 May 1903.

26 Glam. RO, D/D CNS A 1/1, Archaeological Section, Minute book of Committee, 13 April 1904.

27 Glam. RO, D/D CNS A 1/1, Archaeological Section, Minute book of Committee, 7 May 1906.

28 Account of the preliminary excavation: Report and Trans., vol. 41, 1908, p.39-40.  See also AS Minute book, 16 April 1908.

29 1909 excavation: John Ward, ‘The Roman fort at Gelli-gaer: the baths’, Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc., vol. 42, 1909, p. 25-69.  See also AS Minute book, 16 April 1909; F. Haverfield, ‘Military aspects of Roman Wales’, Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymm., 1908-09, p. 139-41.

30 John Ward, ‘The Roman fort at Gelli-gaer: the annexe’, Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc., vol. 44, 1911, p. 65-91.

31 For the Llantwit Major excavations see Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc., vol. 45, 1912, p. 87-9; vol. 47, 1914, p. 35-44.

32 For Radyr hearth see Trans. Cardiff Nat. Soc., vol. 45, 1912, p. 115; vol. 48, 1915, p. 101.

33 Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Still digging: interleaves from an antiquary’s notebook, London, 1955, p. 68-82.

34 See Douglas A. Bassett, ‘The making of a national museum’, Trans. Hon. Soc. Cymm., 1982, p. 153-85 for an account of the National Museum’s origins and foundation.

35 See ‘The National Museum of Wales’, in J.H. Matthews, ed., Cardiff records, Cardiff, 1911, vol. 6, p. xvi-xxxvi; for a narrative, see also the annual Reports of the Welsh Museum.

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