The National History Museum, 4 miles from Cardiff, at St Fagans, is a 100-acre (40.5ha) open air museum of reconstructed buildings gathered from all over Wales. This popular outdoor heritage attraction lets you wander around the grounds and go into buildings. Youíll feel a part of the past while learning how the people of Wales lived and worked.
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More than 30 original buildings were moved from various parts of Wales to the Museum site. Unless a building is at risk of demolition or decay, it is left in its original setting, not moved to the museum.
The buildings at the Museum vary from St Faganís Castle, a late 16th century manor house, to an original pigsty. The collection of farmhouses, cottages and working buildings illustrate vividly the life of the Welsh people through different periods of time and from different social levels. The buildings are fully furnished with the artefacts and furniture appropriate to the times.
An entire 13th century church, St Teiloís, (St Teilo is the patron saint of horses and fruit trees, and his day is celebrated on February 9) was moved here for reassembly. During the process 16th century wall paintings were discovered on the churchís walls. Because ordinary people could not read, and church services were usually in Latin, the painted walls were used to tell Bible stories in pictures.
Terraced houses from Merthyr Tydfil portray life in a Welsh mining community spanning 200 years. The Gwalia Stores is a 1920ís shop experience in a fully furnished general store. You can buy cheese and other goodies just as you would have in the 20ís. The Llawryglyn Smith is a working one, and the blacksmith can be watched shaping horseshoes and farm tools. At the Esgair Moel Woollen Mill, fleece and flannel are manufactured.
A mill produces stone-ground wheat flour used in the Derwen Bakehouse where traditional and bara brith bread are made. You can buy it fresh from the oven. A wood turner demonstrates his skills. A cooper, clogmaker, and a leather worker all demonstrate their crafts. The cockpit brings the cruel sport of cock fighting vividly to mindóbets were placed on the birds, and they fought to the death.
A gas lit farmhouse filled with Edwardian furniture includes a farmyard and outbuildings that are home to animals and poultry of the time. A Celtic village shows household and hunting equipment of 3000 years ago.
A large indoor museum on the site houses farming implements and vehicles, costumes, crafts, and artifacts of daily living from the Middle Ages to today. The craft collections include woodworking, leatherwork, metalwork, basketmaking, and pottery. A textile craft collection includes quilting, embroidery, lacemaking, tailoring, and woollen products. Cooking and dairying equipment is on display. Thereís a library of over 40,000 volumes for research studies as well as photo archives. Special events are held throughout the year.
Museum of Welsh Life
St Fagans near Cardiff
Tel. 029 2057 3500
Open, daily, 10am-5pm
Allow at least 4 hours to visit; a full day is best.
Restaurant, snack bar and tea-room on premises.
Website: Museum of Welsh Life