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Undiscovered treasures

12 July 2010

Do you have family heirlooms in your home related to the First World War? Maybe a diary written on the front line by a relative or a collection of letters put away for safe keeping at the back of a drawer?

Cardiff University’s School of History and Archaeology is launching a new project giving people across Wales the chance to share their forgotten treasures and family history with the rest of the nation.

Led by Dr Gethin Matthews, Welsh Voices of the Great War Online is a digital community heritage project that seeks to gather and make public artefacts and memorabilia which remain in private hands.

Everything from letters and diaries, postcards and newspaper clippings are sought by the team. They’re also interested in hearing about stories passed down from generation to generation about the war.

Speaking about the project, Dr Matthews, a lecturer in Welsh History at the School of History and Archaeology said: "The Great War is one of the most significant events in world history and the project’s main aim is to investigate the huge local impact it had on Wales. We’re hoping that it will really capture people’s attention and encourage them to contribute."

People can take part in the project by going along to one of seven roadshows across Wales or by uploading images and information to the project’s website at

The first roadshow takes place on Saturday 24 July at St Fagans National History Museum, from 10am to 4pm. Subsequent roadshows will be held in Wrexham, Newport, Aberystwyth, Swansea, Blaenavon and Llanberis.

Once catalogued, the material will be made available to everyone through The People’s Collection website, a major initiative funded by the Welsh Assembly Government to be launched at the 2010 National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale.

"The idea is that schools, organisations, academics and the public will be able to access the collection in order to discover new insights into Welsh perspectives of the Great War," said Gethin. "The collection will also shed new light on the differences in the reactions to war of people in North Wales and South Wales, or between industrial and rural areas of the country. Some of the findings are sure to change the way we think about the impact the war had on Wales."


Notes to editors

1. Cardiff School of History and Archaeology
The School of History and Archaeology carries out teaching and research in four main areas: History and Welsh History; Ancient History; Archaeology; and Archaeology Conservation.

History and Welsh History offers a broad survey of the main aspects from the medieval period to the twentieth century. Areas of expertise include: Medieval England, the Crusades, military religious orders; early modern England and Wales; early modern Spain; and modern Indian historiography and gender history. The broad area of Europe and the British Empire in the Twentieth Century encompasses such research themes as: modern Germany; biological racism and ethics; the Right in France; and the Wilson era in British politics. Areas of expertise in Welsh history include early modern Wales; the gentry; industrialisation; popular culture and Welsh emigration/dispersal (with particular reference to North America)

Ancient History focuses on the social and economic history of the ancient world, with particular emphasis on: warrior elites; warfare and the formation; organisation and social effects of armies; violence and its control inside ancient societies; issues of identity, especially gender history and ethnicity; and slavery and other systems of labour and land exploitation.

Archaeology offers expertise in two main areas: the archaeology of Britain, Europe and the Mediterranean 5000BC-1000AD; and studies in ancient technology and the analysis of materials and conservation science.

The Archaeology Conservation degree scheme offered by the School is one of only two such undergraduate courses in Britain. It attracts conservation commissions from throughout the UK, giving students valuable hands-on experience. The teaching of Ancient History and Archaeology was assessed as "Excellent" in the recent national assessment of teaching quality in UK universities.

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

3. For further information

Gethin Matthews

School of History and Archaeology

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920 876297


Victoria Dando

Public Relations

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920 879074