A strange new mummy has recently appeared in the Ancient Egyptian section of the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. Wrapped in layers and layers of bandages, it was found in a broken display case alongside other Ancient mummies. Forensic scientists have yet to establish whether the mummy, nicknamed ‘Tut’ after the Egyptian King Tutankhamun, is an ancient artefact or merely a prank designed to discredit the reputation of the museum. Chief Arvyl Crackit of the CBI (Cardiff Bureau of Investigation) has been called in but she needs extra resources and wants YOU to investigate who put the mummy there and what weapon they used during the break-in.
From Treasure Trails
Simeon the red-haired gibbon (toffee-coloured, if you please) felt very important after receiving this message from Treasure Trails, so he immediately packed his bags and travelled 190 miles from London to Cardiff. In his haste, Simeon failed to realise his best friend, Sammy Sloth, had stowed away in his bag. After getting over the initial surprise, Simeon agreed that Sammy could help him with his mission, so long as Sammy was on his best behaviour.
Since the crime occurred in the National Museum of Wales, Simeon and Sammy headed towards the museum in Cathays Park to search for clues. Whilst they did not have time to explore the collection, they discovered the museum opened in 1922, although construction began in 1912. Sammy thought the distance between these two dates was very suspicious, but Simeon patiently explained that the First World War put a halt to the building work. The museum contains collections of botany, art, geology, and zoology. It originally had an archaeology section, but this has since moved to St Fagans National Museum of History.
Next to the museum, dozens of people milled around in smart clothes and dresses, waiting for a newly married couple to emerge from a Baroque-style building. Built of Portland stone, this is the City Hall, which opened in October 1906, a year after Cardiff received its city charter. The hall replaced the town hall and was constructed using the world’s first all-electrically operated building site.
Simeon and Sammy did not dare enter the City Hall just in case they gatecrashed someone’s wedding. Instead, they combed the exterior for clues. Two World War II memorials commemorate the lives of those lost, including Polish soldiers, airmen and sailors. A more prominent war memorial honours the victims of the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Designed by English sculptor Albert Toft (1862-1949), the monument features several bronze figures representing different concepts. On top of the plinth, a winged figure holding an uprooted olive tree depicts peace, while below, on the western side, a seated male figure with a sword and shield illustrates war and courage. On the eastern side, a seated female figure holding a wreath leans on a shield to resemble grief.
Further down the road from the war memorials, Simeon spotted a statue of Gwilym Williams. Unsure if the gentleman held any clues to the Treasure Trail mystery, Simeon decided to look into the statue’s identity, just in case. Born in London in 1913, Williams belonged to a deeply religious family who encouraged him to study theology at Oxford University. In 1938, Williams became a priest at St Asaph Cathedral in Denbighshire, Wales.
In 1945, Williams moved to Bangor to work as a Lecturer in Theology at the university. He also served as a Canon of Bangor Cathedral and later the Bishop of Bangor. In 1971, Williams also took on the position of Archbishop of Wales, which he held until his retirement in 1982.
Although religion was Williams’ primary love, he was also passionate about the Welsh language. During Margaret Thatcher’s (1925-2013) term as Prime Minister, Williams openly challenged her over her attempts to reduce the status of the Welsh language. Determined to prevent Welsh from dying out, Williams arranged for the Bible to be translated into Welsh and supported the development of the first Welsh television station S4C, which launched in 1982. Following the publication of the Welsh Bible, Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) invited him to preach at Westminster Abbey.
After learning that Gwilym Williams died in 1990, Simeon determined he was not responsible for the crime, so hurried off with Sammy to explore Bute Park. Comprised of 130 acres, Bute park originally formed the grounds of Cardiff Castle, once owned by John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (1847-1900). His father was known as the founder of modern Cardiff but passed away when John was only six months old.
The 3rd Marquess of Bute oversaw the restoration of Cardiff Castle and developed the grounds into a public garden. Restrictions were later imposed in 1858, preventing people from accessing the gardens, so Bute divided some of the land to create Bute Park. Bute’s head gardener, Andrew Pettigrew, helped landscape the new park. It is predominately grassland but also features an abundance of trees along the pathways. Simeon and Sammy spotted several carvings made from old tree stumps, but these did not help them in their quest to solve the mystery case.
Before Simeon could search for more clues, Sammy distracted him by shouting, “Look! Stonehenge!” Simeon patiently explained to the excited sloth that Stonehenge was in England, but he agreed that the circle of stones was certainly suspicious. On closer inspection, the stones were not part of an ancient monument but were placed there in 1978 to celebrate Cardiff hosting the Welsh National Eisteddfod.
The National Eisteddfod of Wales is an eight-day poetry and music competition, which takes place every year in different Welsh locations. The event stems from druidic practices of prehistoric times, which took place within structures similar to the Gorsedd Stones in Bute Park. Gorsedd is a Welsh word meaning “throne” and refers to a community or meeting of bards to promote literary scholarship and the creation of poetry and music. Arranged in a circle, the structure usually consists of twelve stone pillars and a flat-topped stone, known as the Logan Stone, in the centre to serve as a platform or stage.
After determining the Gorsedd Stones were not ancient relics, nor relevant to their Treasure Trail, Simeon and Sammy returned to the footpath and made their way around the outskirts of Cardiff Castle. Unfortunately, the castle was closed following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, so Simeon and Sammy could not explore the old building.
Fortunately, Simeon and Sammy could enjoy seeing the castle from the outside and learn about parts of the fortress from various information boards. One board told them about the former “Swiss Bridge”, inspired by the bridge across Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. Constructed in 1875, it provided a direct route from the castle over the moat to the gardens. In 1927, the Swiss Bridge relocated to the Dock Feeder Canal but fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1963.
Another bridge, still intact, once led to the West Gate. The gate once formed one of the main approaches from the west into Cardiff but later became obsolete when a new bridge opened across the River Taff in 1796. In the past, industries near the West Gate included corn mills dating back to the 12th century. Excavations in the early 20th century discovered the locations of the channels that once contained the waterwheels. Water no longer filled these channels because the 19th century Dock Feeder Canal redirected the watercourse north of the castle. In recent years, archaeologists discovered fragments of pots, bowls, jugs, leather sword scabbards, coloured glass, decorated pottery and clay pipes. Some of these objects may have belonged to the aristocracy living at the castle, but others reveal the lives of poorer people who probably worked at the mill.
With their heads full of information but still needing to solve the Treasure Trail mystery, Simeon and Sammy hurried out of Bute Park and started to explore the many streets of Cardiff. While searching for clues along Westgate Street, they came across Principality Stadium, also known as Millennium Stadium. Initially built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, it has become the national stadium of Wales and hosts a range of sporting events. It changed its name to Principality Stadium in 2016 after signing a 10-year deal with the Principality Building Society.
Not wishing to waste time, Simeon and Sammy took a shortcut through Cardiff Market. Situated in the Castle Quarter of Cardiff, the indoor market dates to Victorian times. The building consists of two shopping levels, the ground floor and a balcony. Although it opened in 1891, a farmers’ market had been in the city since the 18th century.
There are three entrances to Cardiff Market: one on Trinity Street (where Simeon and Sammy entered), one on Church Street, and one on St Mary Street (where Simeon and Sammy exited). The market was once the site of Cardiff Jail, and the gallows were positioned near the St Mary Street exit. Richard Lewis (1807-31), better known as Dic Penderyn, was famously hanged here on 13th August 1831 after stabbing a soldier during the Merthyr Rising. Working-class men rioted because they were unhappy with their low income, particularly those working in the coal mines in Merthyr Tydfil, a town 23 miles from Cardiff.
Vowing to come back to enjoy the many delights in the market, such as fresh bread, fish and delicious fruit, Simeon and Sammy continued making their way through the streets of Cardiff. At the end of Queen Street, they came across “perhaps one of Wales’ most iconic statues”. The statue recognises Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960) as the founder of the National Health Service (NHS). Bevan was a Welsh Labour Party politician and the Minister of Health in Clement Attlee’s government between 1945 and 1951. He led the campaign for free medical care at point-of-need across the UK, resulting in the creation of the NHS in 1948.
The statue of Aneurin Bevan was commissioned by South Glamorgan County Council during the 1980s. Robert Thomas (1926-99), who produced many sculptures around Cardiff, created the statue, which was erected in 1987. The lifesize (6 ft) cast bronze figure wears a suit and leans forward as though frozen in time while moving. A 7 ft pedestal raises Bevan above the head of shoppers, upon which gold letters read “Founder of the National Health Service”.
Simeon and Sammy spotted several statues during their exploration of Cardiff, but the one that stood out the most honoured Betty Campbell (née Johnson, 1943-2017), Wales’ first black head teacher. Campbell grew up in a multicultural community in Cardiff, where her family experienced financial hardship. Despite her circumstances, Campbell worked hard at school and earned a scholarship to the Lady Margaret High School for Girls. As a working-class black girl, Campbell struggled to make her teachers take her seriously, but their discouragement made Campbell more determined to succeed.
Betty Campbell became pregnant at 17 and left school to marry Rupert Campbell. After the birth of her third child, she learned that the Cardiff Teacher Training College had started accepting female students. Campbell immediately applied and became one of the first six women to attend the college. Campbell became a teacher at Mount Stuart Primary School, where she taught for 28 years. Campbell noticed people assumed she was not as good at her job because she was black, so inspired by activists like Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), Campbell started teaching her pupils about slavery and black history. Around this time (1970s), she also became the head teacher of Mount Stuart and turned the school into a multicultural-friendly establishment.
Campbell became a member of the Commission for Racial Equality, founded in 1976, Campbell’s reputation as a supporter of black rights grew rapidly across Cardiff and in 2003, she was awarded an MBE for services to education and community life. When she passed away in 2017, hundreds of people lined the streets to pay their respects.
The statue of Betty Campbell was erected in Central Square in 2021. Designed by Eve Shepherd (born 1976), it depicts a 13 ft bust of Campbell’s head and shoulders surrounded by ten children of various ages around the base. Simeon and Sammy had great fun pretending to play with the children.
Finally, Simeon and Sammy’s trek around Cardiff brought them back to the National Museum of Wales, where they solved the final clue and reported their findings to the Treasure Trail headquarters. Little did Simeon and Sammy know their adventure was not quite over. Simeon heard on the grapevine that King Charles III (born 1948) intended to visit the city and that he would stop for a short while at Cardiff Castle. “Doesn’t he know the castle is closed?” enquired Sammy. So, Simeon and Sammy decided to investigate.
A queue of people informed Simeon and Sammy that a select number of people were allowed to enter the castle grounds to greet the King. After looking at the length of the queue and discovering that some had been waiting since 3 am, Simeon and Sammy gave up any hope of getting into the castle. To cheer themselves up, the pair treated themselves to an hour boat trip to Cardiff Bay and back. When they returned, the queue had disappeared, and a kind lady told them there was still room for a few more people in the castle. Without hesitation, Simeon and Sammy rushed through the gates and joined the crowd and camera crews hoping for a glimpse of the King.
After waiting patiently, Simeon and Sammy were awarded a glimpse of the new King as he waved to the crowd before entering the castle. As if that was not exciting enough, Simeon and Sammy had their photograph taken with the Royal Welsh Guards and a small horse. What a great way to end their travels to Cardiff; they solved a mystery and met (sort of) the King. This is certainly a trip Simeon and Sammy will cherish forever.
To purchase the Cardiff City trail from Treasure Trails, click here.
If you enjoyed this blog, here are some of Simeon’s other adventures.
Simeon goes to Amsterdam
Simeon and the Bloomsbury Treasures
Simeon Visits Rainham Hall
Simeon, the Cliffs and the Sea
Simeon Encounters Antwerp
Simeon Investigates Covent Garden
Simeon and the Green Witch’s Treasure
Simeon Conquers York
Simeon’s Bristol Highlights
Simeon Returns to Bristol: Part One
Simeon Returns to Bristol: Part Two
Simeon goes to Grantham
Simeon and the Cable Car Mission
Simeon and the Quest for the Roman Hoard
Simeon and a Tale of Two Bridges