Wednesday, 3rd September 2014

Rare town jewels to go on show

Libraries and museums in Powys are set to benefit from over £158,000 in grants from the Welsh Assembly.

Two Radnorshire museums feature with just over £35,000 being awarded to Rhayader Museum and Art Gallery for its A Glimmer in the Earth exhibition, and £20,000 to develop space at the Judge’s Lodging in Presteigne into areas for community exhibitions and events.

The money is part of just over £158,000 in grants announced for libraries, museums and archives in Powys by Minister for Heritage Alun Ffred Jones.

The central exhibits in the A Glimmer in the Earth exhibition are two hoards of ancient gold found by local men.

The Rhayader Jewels were found by James Marston in 1899 and are on permanent exhibition in the British Museum. They comprise a Roman ring, bracelet and necklet, all made in gold with semi-precious jewels, which were found in a rabbit hole high in the hills.

The Bronze Age Llanwrthwl Gold Torcs were found in the 1950s by two farm workers ploughing a field. They are four spiral gold torcs, a kind of bracelet that had lain in the earth for 3,000 years and are in pride of place in Amgueddfa Cymru, Cardiff.

A Glimmer in the Earth will be exhibited at the Rhayader Museum and Gallery in the summer of 2011.

Carrie Wiltshire, Rhayader Museum curator, said: “The Rhayader Jewels and Llanwrthwl Gold Torcs are not just objects of great beauty and historical importance, they are part of local folklore and legend. Finding treasure is the stuff that dreams are made of, and it’s happened in our hills! Being able to bring these nationally important items home, even for a short while, will mean a great deal to local people and really put our museum on the map.”

Meanwhile, The Judge’s Lodging has been awarded £20,000 by WAG towards development plans which aim to bring the local collection it holds to the forefront of future displays and activities at the museum.

This collection currently contains some 3,000 objects, photographs and documents relating to the town of Presteigne, its surrounding area and inhabitants.

Some items are already on display in the period rooms, but the museum now wants to create new ways of working with these items, allowing the community to come together with their past and share it with others.

The Judge’s Lodgings is planning two new exhibition spaces – a permanent exhibition of Presteigne and area, featuring some star objects, pictures, computer interactives, comfy areas for visitors and activities for kids.

It will be complemented by a new temporary exhibition space which will be used to house a changing programme of displays where the curators of the museum will work with different community groups and individuals to create exhibitions for locals and visitors to the town.

These new exhibitions will provide the focus for a programme of events for everyone to enjoy, from family fun days to lectures and demonstrations.

Gaby Rivers, curator at the Judge’s Lodgings, said: “All of this is a big but very exciting challenge. We are extremely grateful to WAG for supporting us in our dreams for this, but there is still some way to go.

“The challenge now is to secure the rest of the funding needed to make this a reality; £20,000 is only a portion of what is needed to refurbish the rooms, create displays and buy all the equipment needed.”

In addition to the above, Coleg Powys will receive £65,000 for a project to promote partnership working between libraries in Mid and South West Wales and to promote improved access to regional library resources. They have also received £8,500 to install wi-fi in libraries across Powys.

Powys Library and Archive Service will get £24,637 for the second year of engaging with children and young people and Llanidloes Museum will get £5,000 to help conserve its collections and improve access to them.