© Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society & Contributors 2016-7 Registered Charity no. 287289
Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society

Reports of our lectures held during 2014-5

We have reported our lectures in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard for many years. Each year for some years we have gathered these together at the end of each season and published them in late summer as one of our newsletters. If you should look through our past Lectures page or our publications pages, you can find which Newsletters have reports in them. Back copies of some of our Newsletters may be available on request from our editor. A copying charge may be made. Since 2014 we now only publish these reports online. We will keep paper copies solely for archive purposes. In general reports will appear online about a month after they have appeared in the Wilts & Glos Standard. If you would like to write up a report on a particular talk, contact a committee member as early in the season as possible, as we arrange a rota to ensure that every talk is reported.

Reports for September 2014 to Feb 2015 are on the previous page

 Archaeological Science in commercial excavations By Dr Sylvia Warman on 11 March 2015

The Society’s March lecture on Archaeological Science in Commercial Excavations was given by Dr Sylvia Warman who is Science Advisor for English Heritage Greater London Region, and a member of the Society. Dr Warman explained how archaeological evaluation is part of the planning system and archaeological science an important part of this process. Scientific techniques are used in the early stages of assessment. The local archaeological advisor works with the planning system to determine the extent of any buried archaeology in order to set out an agreed scheme of investigation to mitigate risk. The assessment may include small trial trenches, core sampling analysis, and geophysical surveys and the information sp gained determines whether further investigation is necessary. The developers, builders and archaeological specialists work closely together to find appropriate solutions to avoid delays and allow construction to continue. Plans are then developed to reduce damage to archaeologically sensitive areas. Various techniques are used, including setting out new piling clear of important buried archaeology, or covering and protecting it with a geotextile membrane and sand and building a concrete raft foundation. This allows construction works to proceed without disturbing the archaeology underneath. Archaeological science is now used in many different ways. The methods employed include environmental archaeology, dendrochronology, material science, biomolecular archaeology, osteology and strata analysis. Once excavations on site have been completed, the scientific work continues with detailed analysis of the different finds and samples gathered.  Many different scientific techniques are again used including, X-rays and carbon dating. Dr Warman showed a variety of slides explaining various scientific techniques and how archaeological science continues to evolve and play a significant part in archaeological assessment. This may be for a minor building extension or major projects like Crossrail or HST. This report by Alan Strickland was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 26 March 2015

Grismond’s Tower and Cirencester’s western Roman cemeteries By Prof Tim Darvill and Neil

Holbrook

The Cotswold Archaeology Mick Aston Annual Lecture on 18 March 2015

Based at Kemble, Cotswold Archaeology is now one of Britain’s largest independent archaeological bodies, operating all over the UK and currently celebrating its 25th anniversary.  True to its local roots, the Trust sponsors an annual lecture in Cirencester devoted to a local theme, held in association with Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society and this year the Roman Society. This 2015 lecture was the first dedicated to the late Prof Mick Aston, a leading and dedicated field archaeologist, well known for his work on Time Team and for fourteen years a CA trustee. Mick’s work especially in the Cotswolds is much missed. Some 250 people attended the Bingham Hall for this year’s lecture on two very local, topical and related subjects. Prof Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University has been CA chair since 1992 and he presented the results of a study into Cirencester’s largest scheduled ancient monument and certainly the least known. Grismond’s Tower is hidden in the private grounds of Cirencester Park, but stands very close to the old Tetbury Road and its large mound can be just be glimpsed through the trees. It is enigmatic and has attracted the interest of historians and visiting writers back to Leland, visiting in 1540.  Tim explained the many sometimes fanciful interpretations offered for what is basically a very large round barrow, a tumulus, of presumed prehistoric date. It was later converted into use as an ice house for the Mansion, and last used in 1935, another  part of the story. Standing some 4m high and 30m diameter, it is impressive, hence one of the several variants of its place name, as Grosmunt, a French word meaning ‘great hill’. One theory Prof Darvill has been researching is its proximity to a spring source, now the lake in the Park, creating a focal point for the significance of water. Tim also noted that Cirencester has two other such supermounds, on the other side of town at Tarbarrows. Together, a continuing mystery and a fascinating topic for the audience.  Neil Holbrook, CEO of CA then summarised the recent work literally across the old Tetbury road on former Romano-British cemeteries, in advance of new building. Discoveries of burials and cremations here go back to the 1960s when Bridges Garage was built. Used more recently as a car park, further finds including a beautifully preserved Roman bronze cockerel were found a few years ago. In February, as reported in the Standard, came the dramatic find of a well- preserved Roman tombstone, complete with inscription and frieze which Neil described to his appreciative audience in some detail. The lecture was well timed and well presented in this now well established annual local community event. This report by David Viner was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 23 April 2015

Investigating the Landscape – recent archaeological projects

By Aidan Scott and students at Cirencester College on 22 April 2015

In an annual event for the Society, five A level Archaeology students from Cirencester College presented their projects. Aiden Scott, their tutor, set the scene by describing the course. Tom King took as his subject St Andrews Church in Shrivenham and how it and the village have changed over time. The church is unusual in having a central tower. Tom had visited record offices in both Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and had compared a number of nearby villages and their churches, and made a building survey and photographic survey. He concluded by showing how the church had been built in several periods, and that the tower was the oldest surviving part. Sarah Brown asked if Lydiard Park has been a high status location since Roman times. She had studied old records of the park and the church immediately to the rear and chosen an area to use the resistivity tool. With this she found evidence of an unknown track at the front of the current building that was aligned with the church behind, and gave reasons why it might be Roman. Isaac Levi’s theme was Leckhampton through the ages. The earliest existing buildings are sixteenth century. He cunningly showed how an area to search was bounded by ridge and furrow and other disturbed ground, and was lucky enough to find evidence of part of an old building with his geophysical survey.  From its form, he deduced that it may be part of a Romano-Celtic Temple, showing us examples to justify his assumption. Becky Mellor was unfortunate to find that she could not connect to the internet in the hall, so bravely carried on without any slides. Her study was of Down Ampney Church, and why it is some way from the village. James Townsend studied Ashley and Culkerton, having been inspired by finding a Roman coin in his garden. He gave a fascinating description of changes over the centuries. CAHS offers an annual prize to the best all-round archaeology student, which was awarded at the end of the meeting to Tom King. This report by Peter Watkins was published in the Wilts & Glos Standard, 14 May 2015

The Wilts & Berks Canal By Chris Coyle  on 27 May 2015

Chris Coyle, Company Secretary and a Trustee of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust, gave the Society’s May meeting a detailed account of the Trust’s origins, purpose and the restoration progress it has made. The Wilts and Berks was built during the Industrial Revolution to provide quicker and cheaper transport of goods, notably Somerset coal and building materials, from rural areas into rapidly developing towns. In 1793 a meeting called in Wootton Bassett decided to construct a canal linking with the Kennet & Avon canal at Melksham and the Thames near Abingdon. A survey was carried out and work on the 70 mile long canal took place between 1796 and 1810 with no mechanisation, just men with picks and shovels. Development of the railways a few years later resulted in the canal becoming unprofitable. By the early 20th century it was derelict. In 1971 a group of people interested in the canal met to discuss its restoration. This resulted in the formation of the Wilts and Berks Trust in 1987, its objective being the restoration and rebuilding of the canal. This was described as “an impossible dream”.  The Trust is now linked with many authorities and organisations which support its work.  Many locks have been restored, also bridges, banks and branches. There is much still to do. There are several good reasons for restoring a canal, including the creation of a leisure reserve for the 21st century for boating, walking and cycling. Another aim is the preservation of a valuable wildlife corridor. Water voles and great crested newts, both endangered species, thrive along this canal, and the restoration of the original built canal heritage becomes a living memorial. Whilst trying to maintain the original route, in some areas this is not possible, for instance in the centre of present-day Swindon, but planners and authorities are cooperating in finding solutions. The Trust raises funds by events, sponsorship and grants from many organisations. In 2013 it was honoured to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Work in Diamond Jubilee Year. This report by Kathleen Lindesay was published in the Wilts & Glos Standard 11 June 2015

An evening visit to the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) Cirencester

Led by Lorna Parker, the University’s Archivist on 24 June 2015

A ‘Flaming Star’ stained glass design by William Morris in the University Chapel, heraldic crests highlighted against dark panelling, and a longhorn bull called Shakespeare gazing philosophically from one of the impressive 19th century livestock oil paintings on display from the Orwin Collection– these were some of the many highlights of the Society’s summer visit to the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. Organised by Lorna Parker, Archivist at the RAU’s Library, we made the most of a warm June evening. After browsing amongst archived periodicals and journals in the Library, we explored the site, which was designated with university status in 2013. Stepping between its Victorian Gothic original College accommodation, through a 16th century Tithe Barn, past modern purpose-built teaching and residential areas, it was clear the University has successfully managed the marriage of heritage and practicality to take it successfully into the future.

Sep 2014 - Guy Gratton

Oct 2014 - Jeremy Lake

Nov 2014 - Tony Roberts

Jan 2015 - Dale Hjort

Feb 2015 - Croome Lecture - Leanda de Lisle

Mar 2015 - Sylvia Warman

Mar 2015 - CA Lecture - Tim Darvill & Neil

Holbrook

Apr 2015 - College Students Prize Evening

May 2015 - Chris Coyle

June 2015- A visit to RAU

Reports for season 2015-6

© CAHS & contributors 2016-7 Registered Charity 287289
Cirencester Archaeological  & Historical Society

Reports of our lectures held

during 2014-5

We have reported our lectures in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard for many years. Each year for some years we have gathered these together at the end of each season and published them in late summer as one of our newsletters. If you should look through our past Lectures page or our publications pages, you can find which Newsletters have reports in them. Back copies of some of our Newsletters may be available on request from our editor. A copying charge may be made. Since 2014 we now only publish these reports online. We will keep paper copies solely for archive purposes. In general reports will appear online about a month after they have appeared in the Wilts & Glos Standard. If you would like to write up a report on a particular talk, contact a committee member as early in the season as possible, as we arrange a rota to ensure that every talk is reported.

Reports for September 2014 to Feb 2015

are on the previous page

 Archaeological Science in commercial

excavations By Dr Sylvia Warman on 11

March 2015

The Society’s March lecture on Archaeological Science in Commercial Excavations was given by Dr Sylvia Warman who is Science Advisor for English Heritage Greater London Region, and a member of the Society. Dr Warman explained how archaeological evaluation is part of the planning system and archaeological science an important part of this process. Scientific techniques are used in the early stages of assessment. The local archaeological advisor works with the planning system to determine the extent of any buried archaeology in order to set out an agreed scheme of investigation to mitigate risk. The assessment may include small trial trenches, core sampling analysis, and geophysical surveys and the information sp gained determines whether further investigation is necessary. The developers, builders and archaeological specialists work closely together to find appropriate solutions to avoid delays and allow construction to continue. Plans are then developed to reduce damage to archaeologically sensitive areas. Various techniques are used, including setting out new piling clear of important buried archaeology, or covering and protecting it with a geotextile membrane and sand and building a concrete raft foundation. This allows construction works to proceed without disturbing the archaeology underneath. Archaeological science is now used in many different ways. The methods employed include environmental archaeology, dendrochronology, material science, biomolecular archaeology, osteology and strata analysis. Once excavations on site have been completed, the scientific work continues with detailed analysis of the different finds and samples gathered.  Many different scientific techniques are again used including, X- rays and carbon dating. Dr Warman showed a variety of slides explaining various scientific techniques and how archaeological science continues to evolve and play a significant part in archaeological assessment. This may be for a minor building extension or major projects like Crossrail or HST. This report by Alan Strickland was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 26 March 2015

Grismond’s Tower and Cirencester’s

western Roman cemeteries By Prof Tim

Darvill and Neil Holbrook

The Cotswold Archaeology Mick Aston

Annual Lecture on 18 March 2015

Based at Kemble, Cotswold Archaeology is now one of Britain’s largest independent archaeological bodies, operating all over the UK and currently celebrating its 25th anniversary.  True to its local roots, the Trust sponsors an annual lecture in Cirencester devoted to a local theme, held in association with Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society and this year the Roman Society. This 2015 lecture was the first dedicated to the late Prof Mick Aston, a leading and dedicated field archaeologist, well known for his work on Time Team and for fourteen years a CA trustee. Mick’s work especially in the Cotswolds is much missed. Some 250 people attended the Bingham Hall for this year’s lecture on two very local, topical and related subjects. Prof Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University has been CA chair since 1992 and he presented the results of a study into Cirencester’s largest scheduled ancient monument and certainly the least known. Grismond’s Tower is hidden in the private grounds of Cirencester Park, but stands very close to the old Tetbury Road and its large mound can be just be glimpsed through the trees. It is enigmatic and has attracted the interest of historians and visiting writers back to Leland, visiting in 1540.  Tim explained the many sometimes fanciful interpretations offered for what is basically a very large round barrow, a tumulus, of presumed prehistoric date. It was later converted into use as an ice house for the Mansion, and last used in 1935, another  part of the story. Standing some 4m high and 30m diameter, it is impressive, hence one of the several variants of its place name, as Grosmunt, a French word meaning ‘great hill’. One theory Prof Darvill has been researching is its proximity to a spring source, now the lake in the Park, creating a focal point for the significance of water. Tim also noted that Cirencester has two other such supermounds, on the other side of town at Tarbarrows. Together, a continuing mystery and a fascinating topic for the audience.  Neil Holbrook, CEO of CA then summarised the recent work literally across the old Tetbury road on former Romano-British cemeteries, in advance of new building. Discoveries of burials and cremations here go back to the 1960s when Bridges Garage was built. Used more recently as a car park, further finds including a beautifully preserved Roman bronze cockerel were found a few years ago. In February, as reported in the Standard, came the dramatic find of a well- preserved Roman tombstone, complete with inscription and frieze which Neil described to his appreciative audience in some detail. The lecture was well timed and well presented in this now well established annual local community event. This report by David Viner was published in Wilts & Glos Standard, 23 April 2015

Investigating the Landscape – recent

archaeological projects

By Aidan Scott and students at

Cirencester College on 22 April 2015

In an annual event for the Society, five A level Archaeology students from Cirencester College presented their projects. Aiden Scott, their tutor, set the scene by describing the course. Tom King took as his subject St Andrews Church in Shrivenham and how it and the village have changed over time. The church is unusual in having a central tower. Tom had visited record offices in both Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and had compared a number of nearby villages and their churches, and made a building survey and photographic survey. He concluded by showing how the church had been built in several periods, and that the tower was the oldest surviving part. Sarah Brown asked if Lydiard Park has been a high status location since Roman times. She had studied old records of the park and the church immediately to the rear and chosen an area to use the resistivity tool. With this she found evidence of an unknown track at the front of the current building that was aligned with the church behind, and gave reasons why it might be Roman. Isaac Levi’s theme was Leckhampton through the ages. The earliest existing buildings are sixteenth century. He cunningly showed how an area to search was bounded by ridge and furrow and other disturbed ground, and was lucky enough to find evidence of part of an old building with his geophysical survey.  From its form, he deduced that it may be part of a Romano-Celtic Temple, showing us examples to justify his assumption. Becky Mellor was unfortunate to find that she could not connect to the internet in the hall, so bravely carried on without any slides. Her study was of Down Ampney Church, and why it is some way from the village. James Townsend studied Ashley and Culkerton, having been inspired by finding a Roman coin in his garden. He gave a fascinating description of changes over the centuries. CAHS offers an annual prize to the best all-round archaeology student, which was awarded at the end of the meeting to Tom King. This report by Peter Watkins was published in the Wilts & Glos Standard, 14 May 2015

The Wilts & Berks Canal By Chris Coyle  on

27 May 2015

Chris Coyle, Company Secretary and a Trustee of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust, gave the Society’s May meeting a detailed account of the Trust’s origins, purpose and the restoration progress it has made. The Wilts and Berks was built during the Industrial Revolution to provide quicker and cheaper transport of goods, notably Somerset coal and building materials, from rural areas into rapidly developing towns. In 1793 a meeting called in Wootton Bassett decided to construct a canal linking with the Kennet & Avon canal at Melksham and the Thames near Abingdon. A survey was carried out and work on the 70 mile long canal took place between 1796 and 1810 with no mechanisation, just men with picks and shovels. Development of the railways a few years later resulted in the canal becoming unprofitable. By the early 20th century it was derelict. In 1971 a group of people interested in the canal met to discuss its restoration. This resulted in the formation of the Wilts and Berks Trust in 1987, its objective being the restoration and rebuilding of the canal. This was described as “an impossible dream”.  The Trust is now linked with many authorities and organisations which support its work.  Many locks have been restored, also bridges, banks and branches. There is much still to do. There are several good reasons for restoring a canal, including the creation of a leisure reserve for the 21st century for boating, walking and cycling. Another aim is the preservation of a valuable wildlife corridor. Water voles and great crested newts, both endangered species, thrive along this canal, and the restoration of the original built canal heritage becomes a living memorial. Whilst trying to maintain the original route, in some areas this is not possible, for instance in the centre of present-day Swindon, but planners and authorities are cooperating in finding solutions. The Trust raises funds by events, sponsorship and grants from many organisations. In 2013 it was honoured to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Work in Diamond Jubilee Year. This report by Kathleen Lindesay was published in the Wilts & Glos Standard 11 June 2015

An evening visit to the Royal Agricultural

University (RAU) Cirencester

Led by Lorna Parker, the University’s

Archivist on 24 June 2015

A ‘Flaming Star’ stained glass design by William Morris in the University Chapel, heraldic crests highlighted against dark panelling, and a longhorn bull called Shakespeare gazing philosophically from one of the impressive 19th century livestock oil paintings on display from the Orwin Collection– these were some of the many highlights of the Society’s summer visit to the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. Organised by Lorna Parker, Archivist at the RAU’s Library, we made the most of a warm June evening. After browsing amongst archived periodicals and journals in the Library, we explored the site, which was designated with university status in 2013. Stepping between its Victorian Gothic original College accommodation, through a 16th century Tithe Barn, past modern purpose-built teaching and residential areas, it was clear the University has successfully managed the marriage of heritage and practicality to take it successfully into the future. We are sorry but the complete report is only available on our large screen version.

Sep 2014 - Guy Gratton

Oct 2014 - Jeremy Lake

Nov 2014 - Tony Roberts

Jan 2015 - Dale Hjort

Feb 2015 - Croome Lecture -

Leanda de Lisle

Mar 2015 - Sylvia Warman

Mar 2015 - CA Lecture - Tim

Darvill & Neil Holbrook

Apr 2015 - College Students

Prize Evening

May 2015 - Chris Coyle

June 2015- A visit to RAU

Reports for season 2015-6