How online tools can help us discover Wales’ history

Ffotograff digidol ymchwilwyr o fythynnod Quarrymans adfeiliedig Betws-y-coed. © Hawlfraint y Goron: CBHC. Investigators digital photograph of ruined Quarrymans cottages Betws-y-coed. © Crown copyright: RCAHMW

*English follows below*

Adam N. Coward, Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru

Gwelwyd mwy o drafodaeth ar bwysigrwydd hanes Cymru yn ddiweddar, pa un ai wrth ystyried rhinweddau’r cwricwlwm newydd neu wrth dynnu sylw at storïau grwpiau nad ydynt wedi’u cynrychioli’n ddigonol. Yn y drafodaeth hon, mae amgylchedd hanesyddol cyfoethog Cymru yn bwnc sy’n ennyn cryn ddiddordeb – pa un a yw’n ymwneud â mudiad ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’, y newidiadau mawr yn ninas Caerdydd, neu leoedd llai hysbys a’u hanesion – ac mae llawer o bobl yn awyddus i ddysgu mwy.

Yn ffodus i bawb sydd eisiau gwybod mwy am hanes, pensaernïaeth ac archaeoleg Cymru, mae gennym amrywiaeth eang o adnoddau mynediad agored. Mae’r holl adnoddau hyn yn cyflawni swyddogaethau gwahanol ond cydategol sy’n adlewyrchu cyfrifoldebau gwahanol ond cydategol eu rhiant sefydliadau. Felly, gallant gael eu defnyddio ar wahân neu gyda’i gilydd er mwyn darganfod mwy am hanes Cymru.

Cofnodi, astudio a hyrwyddo dealltwriaeth o dreftadaeth archeolegol, adeiledig ac arforol Cymru yw cyfrifoldeb Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru (CBHC). Cafodd ei sefydlu ym 1908, a’i dasg greiddiol gyntaf (sy’n parhau hyd heddiw) oedd creu rhestr o’r holl safleoedd pwysig yng Nghymru – Cofnod Henebion Cenedlaethol Cymru (CHCC). Aethom i’r afael â’r dasg hon drwy greu rhestri o’r safleoedd yn siroedd hanesyddol Cymru, y gellir cyrchu llawer ohonynt am ddim yma. Rydym bellach yn cynhyrchu’r gronfa ddata ar-lein, Coflein.

Mae Coflein yn cynnwys cofnodion ar gyfer mwy na 120,000 o safleoedd drwy Gymru. Mae llawer o’r rhain, ond nid y rhan fwyaf, wedi’u rhestru neu’u cofrestru, ac nid yw cynnwys safle yn CHCC yn golygu bod ganddo unrhyw amddiffyniad statudol. Nod Coflein yw sicrhau bod gwybodaeth am amgylchedd adeiledig hanesyddol Cymru yn hygyrch i bobl Cymru (a’r byd ehangach). Gellir chwilio’r gronfa ddata yn ôl safle unigol, math o safle, ardal ddaearyddol neu gyfnod amser, a hefyd drwy chwiliadau testun rhydd neu yn ddaearyddol drwy ddefnyddio ein system fapio (mae canllaw i ddefnyddio’r map ar gael yma). Ar hyn o bryd, mae rhai cofnodion ar Coflein yn llawnach nag eraill, ac rydym yn gweithio’n barhaus i wella’r wefan, gyda chymorth adborth y cyhoedd yn aml.

Mae CBHC hefyd yn gysylltiedig â chynhyrchu nifer o adnoddau eraill, er enghraifft, Taith i’r Gorffennol, mewn partneriaeth â Phrifysgol Bangor a Chanolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru, sy’n ymdrin â disgrifiadau o Gymru mewn teithlyfrau hanesyddol o Ffrainc a’r Almaen, a’r gronfa ddata ar-lein o gapeli, www.addoldaicymru.org, mewn partneriaeth ag Addoldai Cymru.

Yn fwyaf arbennig, o dan y ddarpariaeth yn Neddf yr Amgylchedd Hanesyddol (Cymru) 2016 ar gyfer llunio rhestr statudol o enwau lleoedd hanesyddol, rydym wedi creu cronfa ddata ar-lein o gannoedd ar filoedd o enwau lleoedd hanesyddol Cymru, ac mae’r rhestr yn tyfu bob dydd. Yn ogystal â’i phwysigrwydd o ran deall hanes Cymru, mae swyddogion lleol, datblygwyr eiddo a pherchenogion eiddo yn gallu ei defnyddio i ddysgu mwy am enwau lleoedd hanesyddol eu milltir sgwâr.

Mae CBHC hefyd yn gweithio mewn partneriaeth â Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru ac Amgueddfa Cymru ar Gasgliad y Werin Cymru, sef adnodd arloesol a rhyngweithiol y gall sefydliadau swyddogol ac unigolion preifat ei ddefnyddio i rannu eu casgliadau a’u straeon am hanes Cymru.

Gwaith Cadw yw diogelu, cynnal, dehongli a gwarchod yr amgylchedd hanesyddol, ac mae hyn, yn arbennig, yn cynnwys rhestru adeiladau a chofrestru henebion. Mae wedi llunio canllawiau defnyddiol i restru a chofrestru, a’r prosesau, meini prawf ac amddiffyniadau sy’n gysylltiadau â hwy. Dwy yn unig o’r dogfennau sydd ar gael yn adran ‘Cyngor a Chymorth’ ei wefan yw’r rhain. Mae’r wefan hefyd yn cynnwys canllawiau i egwyddorion cadwraeth a gofalu am dirweddau hanesyddol, a gwybodaeth am deddfwriaeth a chanllawiau.

Gellir gweld cofnodion Cadw, gan gynnwys gwybodaeth am longddrylliadau a warchodir, safleoedd treftadaeth y byd, adeiladau rhestredig, tirweddau hanesyddol cofrestredig a henebion cofrestredig ar wefan Cof-Cymru. Mae’r cofnodion hyn yn ddefnyddiol iawn i ymchwilwyr proffesiynol a phreifat y mae ganddynt ddiddordeb mewn safleoedd sy’n cael eu hamddiffyn yn statudol, ond dylid cofio eu bod wedi’u hysgrifennu mewn modd technegol, fel sy’n angenrheidiol gan eu bod yn gofnodion statudol o safleoedd.

Mae pedair Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol yng Nghymru hefyd, sy’n gyfrifol am gynnal Cofnod Amgylchedd Hanesyddol ar gyfer pedair ardal, sef Gwynedd, Dyfed, Clwyd-Powys a Morgannwg-Gwent. Gellir gweld eu cofnodion ar y wefan Archwilio, sy’n cynnwys gwybodaeth am filoedd o safleoedd.

Bydd yr holl sefydliadau hyn yn gweithio’n agos â’i gilydd, gan rannu gwybodaeth a chofnodion er mwyn deall amgylchedd hanesyddol Cymru yn well, a sicrhau bod y wybodaeth ar gael i bobl Cymru. Mae gwybodaeth o bob un o’r sefydliadau hyn – cofnodion CHCC, adeiladau rhestredig, henebion cofrestredig a chofnodion amgylchedd hanesyddol, yn ogystal â chasgliad archaeolegol Amgueddfa Cymru – ar gael ac yn chwiliadwy ar un wefan, sef Cymru Hanesyddol. Er hynny, mae’n dal yn syniad da defnyddio Coflein, Cof-Cymru ac Archwilio i gael y canlyniadau gorau

Nid yw’r adnoddau mynediad agored hyn yn darparu ond cyfran fach o’r wybodaeth sydd ar gael am hanes Cymru. Mae Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru’n cynnal sawl cronfa ddata amhrisiadwy, gan gynnwys Papurau Newydd Cymru Ar-lein, Cylchgronau Cymru, a’r Bywgraffiadur Cymreig (mewn partneriaeth â Chanolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru ac Anrhydeddus Gymdeithas y Cymmrodorion), ac yn darparu nifer o gofnodion digidol trwy ei chatalog.  Gwefan bwysig arall i bawb sydd â diddordeb yn nhirwedd hanesyddol Cymru yw Lleoedd Cymru, lle mae copïau wedi’u digido o fapiau degwm Cymru’r 19eg ganrif ar gael. A sôn am fapiau, gellir defnyddio mapiau a ddarparwyd gan Lyfrgell Genedlaethol yr Alban i archwilio adeiladau a thirweddau hanesyddol Cymru.

Mae’r holl adnoddau hyn, ochr yn ochr â llyfrgelloedd ac archifdai Cymru, yn gallu helpu pobl i ddarganfod hanes Cymru, ac i werthfawrogi’r amgylchedd hanesyddol lle maent yn byw, gweithio a chwarae. Wedi’r cyfan, Blwyddyn Darganfod Cymru yw 2019!

Y Goron biau’r hawlfraint i’r erthygl ‘Darganfod Gorffennol Cymru Ar-Lein’ a’r llun DS2010_072_004 ac fe’i hatgynhyrchir gyda chaniatâd Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru (CBHC), o dan awdurdod dirprwyedig gan y Ceidwad Cofnodion Cyhoeddus.


Adam N. Coward, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales 

Whether debating the merits of the new curriculum or highlighting the stories of underrepresented groups, there has been increased discussion of the importance of Welsh history. In this discussion, Wales’s rich historical environment is often a subject of interest – whether it focuses on the ‘Cofiwch Tryweryn’ movement, Cardiff’s changing cityscape or lesser-known places and their stories – with many eager to learn more.

Fortunately for those wanting to know more about Welsh history, architecture and archaeology, Wales is supplied with a wide range of open-access resources. These resources all fulfil different but complementary functions, reflecting the different but complementary responsibilities of their parent organisations. They can be used separately or together to discover more about this history of Wales.

The responsibility of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) is to record, study and promote understanding of Wales’s archaeological, built and maritime heritage. Established in 1908, our first core task (which continues to this day) was to create an inventory of all of the important sites in Wales – The National Monument Record of Wales (NMRW). We set about this task by producing inventories of sites for the thirteen historic counties of Wales, many of which can be accessed for free here. We now produce the online database Coflein.

Coflein contains records for over 120,000 sites throughout Wales. Many of these are listed or scheduled, but most are not, and inclusion in the NMRW does not denote any statutory protection. The aim of Coflein is to make authoritative information about Wales’s historic built environment accessible to the people of Wales (and the wider world). The database can be searched by individual site, site type, geographic area or time period, as well as by free text searches or geographically through our mapping system (mapping guide available here). At the moment some entries on Coflein are fuller than others, and we are constantly working to improve the website, often with the help of public feedback.

The RCAHMW is also involved in the production of several other resources, such as Journey to the Past, an exploration of Wales in historic travel writing from France and Germany in partnership with Bangor University and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies (CAWCS), and the online database of chapels, www.welshchapels.org, in partnership with the Welsh Religious Buildings Trust.

Notably, under the provision for a statutory list of historic place names in the Historic Environment (Wales) Act, 2016 we have compiled an online database of hundreds of thousands of historic place names in Wales, a list which is growing daily. In addition to its importance to understanding the history of Wales, local officials, property developers and property owners can use the list to learn about historical place names in the areas where they live and work.

RCAHMW is also a partner institution, along with the National Library of Wales and National Museum of Wales, in the People’s Collection of Wales, an innovative and interactive resource where official bodies and private individuals can share their collections and stories related to the history of Wales.

Cadw works to protect, maintain, conserve and interpret the historic environment, a mission which notably includes the listing of buildings and scheduling of ancient monuments. They have put together helpful guides to listing and scheduling, and the processes, criteria and protections which they entail. These are just two of several documents available under the ‘Advice and Support’ area of their website, which also includes guides to conservation principles and caring for historic landscapes as well as information on legislation and guidance.

Cadw’s records, including entries for protected wrecks, world heritage sites, listed buildings, registered historic landscapes and scheduled monuments can all be viewed via the website Cof-Cymru. These records can be invaluable for those with personal or professional interests in sites under statutory protection, but it should be noted that they are often written in a technical manner, as is necessary for their function as statutory records of sites.

There are also four Archaeological Trusts in Wales, responsible for maintaining a Historical Environment Record for each of four areas: Gwynedd, Dyfed, Clwyd-Powys and Glamorgan-Gwent. Their records can be viewed on the website Archwilio, which contains information on thousands of sites.

All of these organisations work closely together, sharing information and records in order to understand the historic environment of Wales better and to make that information accessible to the people of Wales. Information from all of these organisations – NMRW records, listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments and the historic environment records, as well as the National Museum’s archaeology collection – are available and searchable in a single website, Historic Wales, although it is still a good idea to use Coflein, Cof-Cymru and Archwilio for the best results.

These are just a fraction of what is available about the history of Wales through open-access resources. The National Library of Wales maintains several invaluable databases, including Welsh Newspapers Online, Welsh Journals Online, and the Dictionary of Welsh Biography (in partnership with CAWCS and the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion), as well as a number of digital records searchable in the library catalogue. Notable for anyone with an interest in the historic landscape of Wales is the Places of Wales website, which has digitised the nineteenth-century tithe maps for Wales. And speaking of maps, the maps made available by the National Library of Scotland can also be used to explore the historic buildings and landscapes of Wales.

All of these resources, alongside Wales’s archives and libraries, can help people to discover the history of Wales, and to appreciate the historic environment of Wales in which they live, work and play. 2019 is, after all, Wales’s Year of Discovery!

The article Adam N. Coward, ‘Discovering the Welsh Past Online’ and the image DS2010_072_004 is Crown copyright and is reproduced with the permission of Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW), under delegated authority from The Keeper of Public Records.

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