‘Wales in 100 objects’

Wales in 100 objects is a book that tells many stories about Wales.

Each story takes as its starting point an object that can be found somewhere in Wales and is available to the public – in a museum, an archive, a library or in the open air. Looking at objects and thinking about them can often be a more vivid way of engaging with history than listening to a lecturer or reading a conventional history book.

The objects have been chosen for their variety. Some are familiar, others obscure. They come from all periods of Welsh history and prehistory. They originated in all parts of the country. Many are from the national collections, Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales and the National Library of Wales, but others are in local institutions scattered across Wales. They take many forms, including tools and weapons, paintings and sculptures, ornaments and items of dress, textiles and furniture, coins and banknotes, monuments and effigies, maps and plans, manuscripts and books, records and musical instruments, pottery and utensils, photographs and posters, toys and dolls, banners and badges.

Among the objects are:

  • a ceremonial Neolithic mace-head from Maesmor
  • the Nanteos wooden cup associated with Strata Florida Abbey
  • the medieval wall painting of Death and the Young Man in Llancarfan Church
  • a Welsh anti-slavery pamphlet of 1792
  • three pistols owned by the Chartist leader John Frost
  • an international cap won by the early football start Billy Meredith
  • badges from the miners’ strike of 1984-85

The striking photographs in the book are by Roland Dafis, and the texts were written, with an introduction, by Andrew Green. The book ends with a map and list of the institutions, and a full index.

Andrew Green
Wales in 100 objects
Photographs by Rolant Dafis
Llandysul: Gomer, 2018
222 pages
ISBN 978 1 78562 158 1



Wales in 100 objects is a very stylish book.  Almost 20 centimetres square, it has a chunky feel in the hand, and when you open it at random you are immediately struck by the richness of Rolant Dafis’s photographs …

On every facing left-hand page there is a commentary on the relevant image by Andrew Green, set in double columns, sometimes with a centred thumbnail photo that further illustrates the main image.  These commentaries are in fact finely crafted miniature essays, packed with information but written with an elegance which makes them a pleasure to read.  As a result, you learn a great deal almost without realising it …

Andrew Green is well aware that everyone’s list will be different. His seems both imaginative and perceptive and in almost every way could hardly be bettered.”

John Barnie, review for gwales (Welsh Books Council)

Gary Raymond: “Wales in 100 objects is something of an archivist’s dream, packed with fascinating artefacts, beautifully produced and filled with the rich photography of Rolant Dafis.”

Steff Power: “I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  It’s a book I’m going to continue dipping into for a long, long time … There’s a subtle political narrative running through the book … The prose itself is very artfully done; one of the things I love about the book is his language … not just information, but things to light the imagination.”

Gray Taylor: “This is like having a museum in my hands … such diverse items chosen, but they tell such a story.”

Radio Wales, The review show, 2 November 2018

“A lovely book in every sense of the word.  Wonderful photographs of powerful objects in the history of Wales … with something interesting and insightful about each one of them.  The writing is so scholarly, so easy.  It’s my Christmas presents all sorted out for this year.”

Dr Elin Jones, All things considered, annual book review, Radio Wales, 16 December 2018

“… the object itself is lovely and unobtrusively yet elegantly designed inside and out … [A] democratic impulse informs Green’s descriptions of the objects: he relates their history in engaging and accessible language whilst making sure to draw out the themes, connections and significance from each …  Rolant Davis’s photography provides an excellent counterpoint on each page.”

Merlin Gable, review in The Welsh Agenda, issue 61, Autumn/Winter 2018, p. 95.

“As an educational tool the book is a gem, a history lesson by stealth … This book, so easy to dip into for a succession of perfectly-formed miniatures lessons, is a great way of connecting us all to our nation’s past, and thus our rather troubling present.”

Angharad Pearce Jones, review in Planet: the Welsh Internationalist, no. 234, Summer 2019, p. 93-5.

“Every object has a story to tell and the accompanying descriptions are informative and often moving … For anyone who loves Wales this book is a joy as all facets of Welsh culture are so admirably depicted.”

Diana Dixon, review in Information Professional, October-November 2019, p.49.
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