WALES has a rich history from figures who've made world leading contributions to local heroes and the story of the survival of the nation and our language.

But there is also a darker side to our past, from historic and recent injustices, to tragedies often linked to the industries that have shaped modern Wales.

At The National we've sought to tell the story of modern Wales while remembering, and learning, from the past.

The site's launch coincided with the 20th anniversy of the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 which shut down the rural economy in a foretaste of the Covid lockdowns that would have a much wider impact from 2020 onwards.

Debbie James asked in March last year whether the lessons of foot and mouth had been learnt as she spoke with farmers who had faced losing their entire stock.

Wales' agricultural and musical heritage combined when Pembrokeshire farmer Gerald Miles set out on a search for ‘ceirch du bach’, or ‘small black oats’, the ancient, native grains he remembered from his childhood.

The missing link turned out to be Ceredigion musician and grower, Owen Shiers who was on his own journey of discovery of Wales' folk music tradition.

Wales was the first country to transition from agriculture to industry, as the burgeoning coal pits and steel plants employed more people than those working the land by 1850.

But the country has paid a heavy price. The Senghenydd Universal Colliery disaster in 1913 cost 440 lives. When the mine manager was fined £24 for safety breaches a local newspaper headline read: “Miners Lives at 5½p each'. 

The legacy of the mining industry is still evident in Wales today and as industrial relations have heightened in the face of the rising cost-of-living crisis Dylan Moore looked at the song which connects Cardiff City supporters with their forefathers who joined the 1926 general strike.

"Welsh history and identity is intrinsically linked with coal mining", wrote Leigh Jones when he turned his attention to that often overlooked coalfield, the north east, and the Mold riot, of 1869, caused in part by tensions between Welsh miners and English managers.

Sadly, the area's mining history is probably most widely known for the Gresford Colliery disaster near Wrexham which claimed the lives of 266 men and boys in 1934.

D-Day veteran Ted Edwards recalled an uncle dying in the disaster. When he spoke with us about his recollections of the momentus day when the tide turned in the battle to recapture Europe from the Nazis he also said how he felt the post-war years had ushered in societal change in Britain.

They also saw new economic opportunties and Merthyr Tydfil prepared for a domestic revolution in 1946 it welcomed the arrival of American firm Hoover which opened a factory that would become one of the town's most significant employers.

Seventy years ago British-Somali seaman Mahmood Mattan was hanged at Cardiff prison, the last person to be executed in the city. His conviction, for a brutal murder in March 1952 of Butetown shopkeeper Lily Volpert, would finally be overturned in 1998 - but it is an injustice that still resonates in the city.

Last year the still unexplained death of 24-year-old Mohamud Hassan, who was of British-Somali heritage, shortly after his release from police custody, gave many the impression that 70 years on from the state execution of Mattan the community is fighting the same injustice.

Neither is Mattan the only person to have been wrongly convicted of a killing in Cardiff's Docklands.

One of the UK's most notorious miscarriage of justice cases involved the conviction of three men, who would become known as the Cardiff Three, for the 1988 murder of Lynette White.

They along, with two other men who were cleared at trial, were victims of a flawed police investigation and prosecution which Cassie Justice Parris, the daughter of one of those wrongly convicted, Tony Paris, explained has continued to cast a shadow on the family.

Michael O'Brien is familiar with the generational trauma of a miscarriage of justice being one of the Cardiff Newsgent Three. In 1988 he, with two others, was convicted of the murder of Phillip Saunders who ran news kiosks in the city centre.

More than 20 years on from his conviction being overturned O'Brien is campaigning for a full judicial inquiry into miscarriage of justice cases, and those in which people continue to protest their innocence, in south Wales stretching from the early 1980s to 2016.

Doubts have also been cast on the conviction of three men for a notorious Cardiff murder from the 1920s. The death of racecourse bookie David Lewis was linked to turf wars of the period. Two of those convicted, brothers John ‘Jack Tich’ Rowlands and older sibling Edward known simply as ‘Tich’, headed the Forty Thieves gang that ran protection at the races.

We looked at the history of the case in this story that told the history of Cardiff’s real life Peaky Blinders.

During the same period, across the Atlantic, Murray the Hump was progressing through The Outfit, the Chicago mafia, on his way to becoming a 'trusted lieutenant of Al Capone' and one of America's most powerful men.

We spoke with former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley about his third cousin, Llewelyn Morris Humphreys aka the Hump, and just how Welsh his upbringing in the windy city was.

If Humphreys is something of a Welsh anti-hero then how does history assess Sir Thomas Picton?

In his liftetime he was tried in the criminal courts for his mistreatment of prisoners while he was the colonial governor of Trinidad, between 1797-1803, but venerated as a hero following his death at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Almost a century later his image was crafted as a statue at Cardiff's City Hall, recognised as a 'hero of Wales'. But 2020's Black Lives Matter movement led to a rethinking of the decision by the city's forefathers to honour him, and the statue has been covered.

That led to the National Museum of Wales removing from display its portrait of Picton which has featured in a new exhibition, Reframing Picton which aims to correct the "hero" narrative.

Welshman have dominated the country's history - and often the role played by women has been overlooked.

Dr Rachel Lock-Lewis, co-director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of South Wales, shared with us her brief history of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Wales while we also profiled the Greenham Common peace march that was spearheaded by women in Wales.

The peace camp at the US military base was also one of four iconic protests, from Wales, identified by Rebecca Wilks as she highlighted protests that would now be outlawed due to legislation passed by the UK Government earlier this year.

The Monumental Welsh Women's campaign is aiming to redress the balance of how is remembered in Wales monuments. Over the past year it has unveiled statues to groundbreaking Cardiff headteacher Betty Campbell and writer and feminist icon Elaine Morgan.

Next in line to be immortalised in bronze is the poet and master mariner Cranogwen who broke every convention of the Victorian age and whose life and career we profiled.

2022 has also seen Wales, and one of Europe's largest youth organisations, the Urdd celebrate its centenary and Dylan Moore told the story of Eirys Owen Edwards, the wife of founder Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards, whose role in founding and developing the movement has gone without due regard.

This February also marked 60 years since one of the most controversial figures in the story of 20th century Wales, Saunders Lewis, delivered a radio broadcast that still resonates today.

Tynged yr Iaith is described as an excoriating account of how the Welsh language was systematically suppressed over the course of four hundred years and was served as a call to action.

Other historical figures we have featured include Robert Recorde, a doctor and mathematician from Tenby who invented the globally familiar mathematical ‘equals’ sign and Allan Pinkerton, the founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in the United States, who links Newport's Chartist uprising with the CIA.

History is also about figures who are important to their local communities such as Dic Evans a lifelong lifeboat volunteer on Ynys Mon who played a crucial role in the rescue of the crew from a striken ship.

Dic is remembered with a statue on the island's coastline while in Llandovery local landowner Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan, who was brutally executed for his refusal to disclose the location of Owain Glyndwr to English king King Heny IV's forces, is remembered with a distinctive memorial.

Recent event can also become historic and ahead of the May 2021 Senedd elections Gareth Axenderrie chartered the course of Welsh devolution from the 1997 'Yes' vote to the National Assembly for Wales becoming Senedd Cymru in 2020.

Journalism is described as the first draft of history and we hope we've done that since March 2021 by effectively by putting current affairs in their historical context .