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Download the interpretation plans that underpin the pan-Wales approach.

Interpretation Plans

In this guide

1. Origins and Prehistory of Wales

Griff's story image

The plan provides a framework for delivering “a more cohesive and compelling” approach for interpreting Wales’ prehistory to visitors and adopts the time frame from the first Neanderthal settlers to the eventual Roman occupation. Amongst the sites associated with this period are Castell Henllys (Iron Age hillfort and reconstructed village), Din Lligwy (Romano-British settlement), Paviland Cave (oldest human burial), Pentre Ifan (chambered tomb), and the Origins Gallery at the National Museum Wales. This plan fits into the broader story strand of the ‘Origins, prehistory and Roman invasion and settlement’. In particular it has close links to the ‘Roman Conquest, Occupation and Settlement of Wales AD 47 – 410’ interpretation plan.

The approach

The plan seeks to create a ‘sense of wonder’ at prehistoric sites which will also engender a sense of ‘respect for the ancient past’.  It suggests that activity should be organised around geographic and thematic clusters of sites, and that each cluster would have a ‘gateway’ (e.g. in Pembrokeshire it could be Castell Henllys). It also identifies the role of the Origins Gallery at National Museum Wales as a national gateway for contextualising this story.

It uses the concept of ancestors and their roles (e.g. hunters, toolmakers, artists, spirit seekers etc.) and aims to use these: “…to create a picture of individuals little different in their physical and social needs perhaps to visitors of the 21st century”.

2. Roman Conquest, Occupation and Settlement of Wales AD 47 – 410

The plan is intended to provide a framework for telling the Roman story throughout Wales AD 47-410, its impact upon the native population of the time, and the lasting legacy in terms of sites, collections and artefacts. The plan includes sites throughout Wales including the iconic Roman Forts at Caerleon and Caernarvon and Caerwent civilian settlement. This plan fits into the broader story strand of ‘Origins, prehistory and Roman invasion and settlement’. In particular it has close links to the ‘The Origins and Prehistory of Wales 250,000 BC to AD 47/78’ interpretation plan.

The approach

The plan provides a useful reference document for the key happenings and dates for the storyline. It also includes ‘statements of engagement’, i.e. the main concepts from the period which will have appeal to a modern audience; and a prioritised list of actions which will result in ‘improved engagement with visitors interests, imagination and emotions’. It suggests that access to the storyline is best achieved via a hierarchy of sites: and outlines nine distinct geographic packages for visitors throughout Wales.

3. Celtic Saints, Spiritual Places and Pilgrimages

The plan explores the story of Christianity in Wales from around 400 AD to 1100 AD, which encompasses The Age of the Saints (5th/6th centuries) and the emergence of strong political as well as religious centre from the 7th century.  It also identifies the impact that this storyline has had upon Wales’ “history, culture and psyche”.

The approach

The plan outlines the history, archaeology and legends associated with the storyline. It states that “interest in the saints, sacred sites and pilgrimage transcends matters of belief. Enjoyment of the tales of saints does not require any profession of faith”.

The whole approach is centred on storytelling. It suggests that a magazine –style approach, potentially illustrated with cartoons (similar to medieval art) should be adopted. People (i.e. the saints themselves and those they came in to contact with) along with the places associated with them, are the key focus for this storyline. It also notes that often these stories are based in legend rather than historically accurate and will need to be interpreted as such to the visitor.

The plan is intended to provide a framework for interpreting this storyline on Wales-wide basis as well as on a local cluster level. Some examples of the cluster approach are included in the document for illustrative purposes. It also reinforces a number of pilgrimage routes that should be interpreted for new audiences, as well as making suggestions for visitor packages related to the storyline.

4. Chapels, Churches and Monastic Landscapes of Wales

The plan provides a framework for interpreting the “history, architecture and landscapes associated with Wales’ Christian beliefs and practises of worship” from 1100 AD onwards. Amongst the sites associated with this storyline range from great cathedrals and abbeys such as Strata Florida, to the huge number of non-conformist chapels which have added to the character of Welsh towns and villages since the 1850’s.

The approach

The plan contains a useful history of the development of places of worship, and highlights the main characters associated with this storyline. It also includes an audit of a sample of sites.

It suggests that interpretation under this storyline should be presented to visitors through a number of packages:

  • Single site – requires on-site interpretation
  • Community based – linked to other places in a village or town via a trail or events etc
  • Multi-site – a more regional approach to linking up sites, with guided tours and/or a leaflet etc.

In all cases it is suggested that detailed interpretation plans are produced for specific sites; that key holders receive some ‘ambassador’ training; and that signage should be in place. It also recommends a number of avenues for providing advice and support. It also recommends a number of avenues for providing advice and support.

5. Princes of Gwynedd

The plan provides a framework for interpreting the story of the Princes of Gwynedd and how this native dynasty rose to great prominence in the late 13th century, becoming so powerful that in 1267 Prince Llewellyn ap Gruffudd ruled a united Wales. The plan also deals with the subsequent war with the English crown. It encompasses sites such as the castles at Dolbadarn, Ewloe, Criccieth and Castell y Bere; as well as Penmon Priory and Basingwerk Abbey.

This plan fits into the broader story strand of the Castles and Princes of medieval Wales and the fight for independence. In particular it has close links to the ‘Castles and town walls of Edward I’ interpretation plan.

The approach

The plan sets out the historic context for the storyline, and its linkages with other Cadw interpretation plans. It identifies a range of opportunities for delivering interpretation at all stages of engagement with the visitor (i.e. from pre-visit through to adaptive interpretation that would encourage repeat visits) and includes site-based audits. It also suggests a number of site-based clusters.

6. Princes of Deheubarth

The plan provides a framework for interpreting “the dynastic rise and fall” of the Princes of Deheubarth (c930 to 1287) and their impact upon culture and landscape within south west Wales. It includes the story of characters like Lord Rhys and sites such as Carreg Cennen, Cardigan, Dinefwr and Nevern Castles; and Abbeys such as Strata Florida and Tally, This plan fits into the broader story strand of the ‘Castles and princes of Medieval Wales and the fight for independence’. In particular it has close links to the ‘Lords of the Southern March’ interpretation plan.

The approach

The plan suggests that as this story is not well known to most people, the storytelling would need to rely on universal subjects such as “the struggle to survive” and “the fight to retain power and identity”. It advocates the use of characters to ‘hang stories on’, i.e. a mix of real people (relying on historic records relating to the lords, their families etc.) and more generic characters (servant girls, builders, stewards and so on).

The plan also highlights how historic sites could be clustered geographically to help tell the story. A wide range of on-site and remote interpretative media is suggested.

7. Lords of the Southern March

The plan provides a framework for interpreting the story of the powerful Anglo-Norman Lords in Southern Wales, from 1066 - c1410 and the effect that their activities had on the making of Wales. Amongst the sites associated with this storyline are the castles at Caerphilly, Cardiff, Chepstow and Kidwelly as well as Tintern Abbey. This plan fits into the broader story strand of the ‘Castles and princes of medieval Wales and the fight for independence’. In particular it has close links to the ‘Princes of Deheubarth’ interpretation plan.

The approach

The plan suggests that as this story is not well known to most people, the storytelling would need to rely on universal subjects such as “the struggle to survive” and “the fight to retain power and identity”. It advocates the use of characters to ‘hang stories on’, i.e. a mix of real people (relying on historic records relating to the lords, their families etc.) and more generic characters (servant girls, builders, stewards etc).

The plan also highlights how historic sites could be clustered geographically to help tell the story. A wide range of on-site and remote interpretative media is suggested.

8. Castles of Edward I

The plan provides a framework for interpreting the story of the castles and town walls of Edward I and the effect that these had upon the people of North Wales. It covers the period from 1276 when the English King ploughed time and resources in to the area as part of an ongoing power struggle with the native Princes. Amongst the sites associated with this period are the castles at Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech which collectively hold World Heritage site status. This plan fits into the broader story strand of the ‘Castles and princes of medieval Wales and the fight for independence’. In particular it has close links to the ‘Princes of Gwynedd’ interpretation plan.

The approach

The plan sets out the historic context of the story and its linkages with other interpretation plans in the story strand. It identifies a range of opportunities for delivering interpretation at all stages of engagement with the visitor (i.e. from pre-visit through to adaptive interpretation that would encourage repeat visits) and includes site-based audits.

9. Owain Glyndŵr and his Uprising

This plan looks at the storyline related to Owain Glyndŵr, his life (c1359- c1416) and his leading role in the wars against English authority during the late 14th early 15th century. Amongst the sites associated with this period are Glyndŵr’s courts at Sycharth and Glyndyfrdwy; and the castles at Aberystwyth and Harlech. It makes the links between this storyline and the others in the the broader story strand of the Castles and Princes of Medieval Wales.

The approach

The plan includes a useful analysis of the historical and literary sources that help paint the picture of Glyndŵr’s life. It includes an audit of relevant sites and makes suggestions as to how they might be interpreted. It also contains ideas for two geographical site-based clusters.

10. Artistic Responses to the Landscape

The plan identifies how the landscape has provided inspiration to all sorts of artists over the last 300 years or so, and how the resulting artistic interpretation can be used to enhance visitors’ experiences in Wales.

The approach

The plan suggests that the following themes collectively provide a ‘national narrative’ for the landscape of Wales.

  • The landscape as history
  • The landscape as nature
  • The landscape as home
  • The landscape as resource.

These underpin an approach which is “based upon creating the greatest level of general interest”. Ideas for implementing this include using biographical sketches of artists; comparisons of how artists’ responses have changed over time; comparisons with contemporary landscapes; examples of the type of art employed and an examination of the topographical features which make the landscape a worthy subject.

11. Defence of the Realm

The plan provides a framework for interpreting the story of Pembrokeshire’s role in defending Britain from war and invasion over the last 300 years. It identifies three strong story strands: the military threat from France in the 18th/19th centuries; the area’s active role during both World Wars; and its continuing part during the Cold War.

The Pembrokeshire storyline forms part of a broader pan-Wales ‘Defence of the Realm’ story which will shortly be explored through a complimentary plan.

The approach

In order to help you decide how your project fits in, a thematic approach to interpreting this storyline has been adopted. The plan identifies over 430 sites under this storyline and so suggests criteria for categorising them according to their physical and intellectual accessibility.

It goes on to recommend that given the range and number of sites a “combination of local and remote communication and creative interpretation techniques” are required.

12. Wales: First industrial nation

The plan outlines the impact that industrialisation had upon Wales, and the contribution that Welsh industry made on a global scale. The plan accepts that people have always been involved in industrious activity, but focuses primarily on the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. The plan looks at how, depending on their status and motivation, people either effected or were affected by this great change. It includes a list of influential people involved within a wide range of industries and social movements, as well as numerous sites including iconic places such as Blaenafon Ironworks and the National Slate Museum.

The approach

The plan looks at the storyline from three angles:

  • People – this looks at the motivations of a selection of investors, inventors, entrepreneurs, benefactors, workers, political reformers, social movers and shakers and the communities that made the industrial revolution in Wales possible.
  • Processes – this identifies the seminal moments in Wales, where inventions were made or technologies were embraced that took industry to new and exciting levels.
  • Places – this answers the question ‘why did all this happen in Wales?’  It outlines the importance of Wales’ rich mineral wealth (particularly slate, iron ore and coal), and identifies many of the key locations in the story

It suggests a number of ways of linking the story across Wales.