Two new films exploring the transformation of Wales’ landscape and the impact on people’s lives have just been released by the Cynefin project to celebrate International Archives Day on 9th June.

In the 1840’s a series of maps was commissioned to assist in organising the payments of tithes. These tithe maps capture virtually the whole of Wales and together create a snapshot of our nation on the cusp of transformation. The Cynefin Project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh Government, is conserving, digitising and exploring these maps to make the treasure trove of information they contain available to anyone, online, for free.

One of the films focuses on the railway network. The tithe maps show the fledgling railway network as it starts to snake across the landscape, but this was not the passenger network we are familiar with today. These new connections changed the fortunes of many towns. The line under construction on these maps would eventually link the docks of Cardiff to the iron and coal industry of Merthyr. This trade relationship would go on to transform Cardiff from the small town that existed in the 1800’s to the capital city of Wales.

The people and culture of Wales are deeply entwined with our landscape, but our
relationship with the land and the way we use it have changed dramatically over the centuries. The other film tells the story of our changing culture through the names we gave to places and we can travel back through time to understand the lives and concerns of people who lived centuries ago.
Einion Gruffudd, Cynefin’s Project Manager said: “We’re excited to release these videos on International Archives Day. It’s the perfect day to celebrate our nation’s heritage and the wonderful historical collections which can be discovered in archives all over Wales. Tithe maps tell the story of our ancestors, and in turn contribute towards our own personal and collective identity here in Wales.”
The Cynefin project is eager to get the people of Wales involved in transcribing the tithe maps and their associated tithe apportionment documents which name the landowners, land occupiers, land use and field names . This will help create an innovative and comprehensive online research tool for people to access and search through.

Helen Palmer, Chair, Archives and Records Council Wales says, “The Cynefin project is just one great example of archive and records teams all over Wales working together to make available the precious documents that represent our, and our nation’s shared history. Archives help to tell the story of our past and preserve our collective memory and cultural identity. To find your nearest archive and more about the work they do please download a copy of our new publication Into the Archives

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