1 Overview

How the unit works and what it contains

1.1 Background

This unit has been designed to help anyone with an interest in the history of Wales to find key information and to begin understanding the way that historians of Wales do their work. It is aimed both at those who are generally interested in the subject and may have a good knowledge of Welsh history already, and at those who are relatively new to the subject. So, while some of the material (such as the taster material from the OU course Small country, big history: themes in the history of Wales) provides a short programme of study devoted to a very specific topic, much of the material included in the unit as a whole can be used and studied in a variety of ways.

The unit title, Welsh history and its sources, was the generic title for a series of books that were prepared at the Open University in Wales between 1988 and 1995, and edited by Trevor Herbert and Gareth Elwyn Jones. The seven volumes in the series were made possible by a Welsh Office grant and brought together the work of more than forty historians of Wales.

The series was important because it did not just provide a rich array of materials about Welsh history; it also explained the way that historians of Wales work by showing the relationship between their writings about Welsh history and the evidence or sources upon which those writings are based. The variety of material contained in this unit continues the legacy of the original Welsh History and its Sources project, but it extends it and makes it suitable for an online environment.

1.2 Sources and resources

This unit contains a wide range of materials presented in different media formats that are freely available for you to use. It contains a substantial number of essays and sources materials from the original Welsh History and its Sources series of books, as well as maps, pictures, and sound and clips. If you wish to use the videos offline, we recommend that you download the higher resolution version.

1.3 Weblinks

The weblinks section of this unit guides you to some of the best online resources for the study of Welsh history. We have looked at all the sites we give links to, and we are sure that they will be helpful to you. Some, such as the enormously impressive online resources of the National Library of Wales, provide a vast array of online sources.

1.4 History tools

This unit contains very basic devices that will enable you to make a start in your exploration of Welsh history.

There are three primary tools for you to explore:

The Welsh history timeline is presented to you as a series of Compendium maps. Compendium is a knowledge map software tool for visual thinking, used within the OpenLearn website. For more details on how to use Compendium and to see some examples of how it can be used, read the OpenLearn QuickStart Guide.

The glossary of Welsh history is also accessible by selecting the link provided in the text. It will be presented to you as a navigable set of glossary pages in alphabetical order.

The bibliography of Welsh history allows you both to pursue your own interests by discovering further reading and to gain an overview of the scope of Welsh historical scholarship.

Links to other education resources