A wealth of historic documents, each with unique stories from the past, are being shared ahead of Explore Your Archives Week (Saturday 20th – Sunday 28th November 2021).

Items highlighted as part of the week include a 12-metre-long family tree from the 1500s claiming that a Welshman is descended from the Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth I; an early 1900s newspaper report on the smallest house in Britain; witness testimonies from the 1839 Newport Rising; a lock of hair, teeth and claws from  a mystery source; and a reported sighting of an octopus in the Bristol Channel.

This range of intriguing documents, images and records have been shared by Archives services across Wales as part of Explore Your Archive week, which is organised by the UK Archives and Records Association, and supported in Wales by Archives and Records Council Wales. The annual week-long campaign encourages people to discover something new and exciting within the nation’s archives, whether that’s delving into your own family history, finding the newspaper from the day you were born or discovering who used to own the land where you now live.

Archives Wales promotes the work of Welsh Archive Services and the country’s rich documentary heritage. Most Archive Services in Wales have now re-opened to the public and are available for pre-booked visits. For information on your local archive service this Explore Week, go to https://archives.wales/welsh-archive-repositories/.

Dawn Bowden, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, and Chief Whip said: “Archives play an integral part in shaping our communities and helping us to understand our diverse national, local and personal histories. They are unique, original records of local people, families, businesses and organisations, often in their own words. Our local archive services are now open for people to explore what they hold, and a wealth of information is also available online. There is something to interest everyone and I would encourage people to take this opportunity to find out more and explore their archives.”

Hayden Burns, Chair of Archives and Records Council Wales, said: “ARCW is delighted to support the Explore Your Archives campaign once again this year. The historic collections held by Welsh archive services are a treasure trove of unique material that can be exploited for all kinds of social, educational and wellbeing activities. For example, our archives enable us to build an understanding and knowledge of the people, events and places in the past and helps us to create new knowledge and a deeper understanding of ourselves and our cultural and social history.”

To start exploring, why not visit your local archive service online – https://archives.wales/welsh-archive-repositories/

5 simple ways to engage with Explore Your Archive Week

  • Follow Archives Wales on social media for daily highlights. 
    Twitter and Facebook @ArchivesWales @ArchifauCymru
    Instagram @archives.wales_archifau.cymru
  • Create your own archive! Take a look at what you have at home; photos, certificates, diaries, love letters, bills and shopping lists, dog licences (remember them?), holiday souvenirs, wedding invitations, school certificates and more. Organising personal collections can be a fantastic way to tell a story about your life or the life of a loved one
  • Follow your local archive service on social media to see what activities they have planned for the week. There will be videos from behind the scenes, snapshot talks, archive bingo, and much more! You can find your local service here: https://archives.wales/welsh-archive-repositories/

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