Visiting the Past
I take people from all over the world on tours around West Wales and show them our wonderful historical and archaeological sites.
It saddens me that quite often someone from Kansas has more knowledge and enthusiasm for our past than we who live here. I suppose we take things for granted unlike our overseas cousins for whom anything over 100 years old is a National Treasure.
Ancient Monuments are all around us and are sought out by visitors; the cameras are out in force at burial chambers such as Pentre Ifan and at Carreg Cennan and other fine local castles. These iconic places are much loved, visited and photographed and have become etched into our national psyche. We are rightly proud that we are the modern day guardians of our visible heritage.
What about the role of the museum though? The Museum collects, cherishes and displays a past that is relevant to our community. It is a collection though that stretches out beyond the locality and has national and international relevance. The objects and artefacts talk to us, they tell us about the sites, the lives lived, the battles, the mundane, the exciting, each has a story. It is up to us to listen to the dialogue and engage with the excitement that can be found by investigating the past.
The museum is the powerhouse that brings together the information and interpretation. It is a dynamic living resource.
I often bring tour groups to the museum; they may have a keen interest in a particular period of history, or want to see one particular artefact but I always find that they soon become engrossed in the whole story as they stroll through the galleries and explore everywhere with delight.
We start with wonderful stone axes (it would be superb if we could actually handle some though!) and work our way through the Bronze and Iron Ages and into the Roman. The Romano British Stones though really capture the imagination and are such rarities that the British Museum must look on with envy!!
The upstairs section brings familiarity and memories back to many. Some who are seeking ancestral roots reach an understanding of the lives of their forefathers. The displays consolidate the knowledge we have gained through site visits and greatly enhance our interest and understanding.
My visitors and I love the museum and we are so grateful that it is there.
If we take too much for granted however the axe may fall and the past will be seen as an expensive irrelevance in today’s cost cutting harsh financial climate. It is during the hard times though that we should look to the past for encouragement, education, and just plain awe and admiration.
So let us sing the praises of our heritage and defend to the hilt our right to celebrate and share our wonderful past.
Mary runs Archaeotours, a tour company based in West Wales