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

Reports of our lectures held during 2016-7

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.

 March 2017

Victoria County History comes to Cirencester c1540-1945 - Francis Boorman

Our talk on March 8th was by Dr Francis Boorman from the Victoria County History (VCH) research team in Gloucester. VCH is so-called as it started work in Victorian times to research the history of every town and parish in England, checking original documents. This herculean task is divided into small chunks. Francis showed how little of Gloucestershire has yet been studied. Religious houses in the County, including our Abbey, were written up 110 years ago. Francis is leading a team studying Cirencester from 1547-1945. Francis chose to tell us about the changing political culture during this period. Cirencester was a so- called “potwalloper” borough – all male heads of household could vote, which was unusual. It sent two MPs to Westminster until 1867. In the 16th and 17th centuries, these were mostly members of the Poole and Master families. Often there was no contest requiring an election. When the Bathursts arrived in the 18th century, if an election was called, the Bathurst family appointed the Returning Officer. In 1712 the electorate was about 600 males from a population of about 3600 males. Until 1754, Bathurst and Master families were regularly returned. When elections occurred, the turnout was 72-82%. No doubt there was some chicanery. In 1784, three deaths from drinking to excess at an election toast were recorded. Secret balloting was not introduced until 1872. Before that it was common for the poll to be open for several days – until the right result? The 1832 Great Reform Act, aimed at getting rid of “rotten Boroughs” required the head of household to own land worth £10, which reduced the electorate from 731 to 261, though those who previously had the right to vote, kept that right until death. Political party was hardly mentioned on posters until the beginning of the 20th century. The Liberals came on the local scene in the mid- 19th century. In 1859 there was a court case about the abduction of voters. The constituency was enlarged to form East Gloucestershire- roughly the area of the current District- in 1885, and enlarged further to be Cirencester and Tewkesbury 1918, being a safe Tory seat ever since, even though Tewkesbury is now lost. Francis rounded off the evening by telling us of much bad feeling occurring between Parish Clerk and Sexton, as recorded in Vestry books from 1613-1836. This eventually eased as civil local government gradually evolved. This report by Peter Watkins was originally published in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard in March 2017 Some of the material of this lecture is now published on the VCH website for comment. (April 2017) March 2017   The Mick Aston Lecture for Cotswold Archaeology Animals and Society in the Roman Cotswolds - Dr Mark Maltby Reader in Environmental Archaeology at Bournemouth University, Dr Maltby has a background in prehistoric and Roman archaeology and has carried out extensive research in the field of zooarchaeology Report To Follow April 2017 Joint meeting with Cirencester Science & Technology Society The Map which Changed the World - David Vessey At the annual joint lecture with Cirencester Science & Technology Society on April 12th, David Vessey BSc delivered a fascinating talk on the work of William Smith who is credited with producing the first geological map of England and Wales. William Smith (1769-1839) born the son of a blacksmith, was an intelligent boy who was fascinated with rocks, fossils and the structure of the Earth. In 1787, he became assistant surveyor to Edward Webb, of Stow-on-the Wold, quickly learning his trade before moving to Somerset as surveyor to the Somerset coalfield and coal canal. His survey work greatly assisted his understanding and knowledge of geology. His travels round the UK recording various soils and stone types enabled him to build a picture of the rock strata which he used to interpret the different landscapes. This knowledge was needed to help identify locations for coal, iron ore, clays and other raw materials. Using agricultural map design principles, Smith made a detailed, coloured map of the Bath area and in 1815, he produced the first geological map of England and Wales. This is remarkably similar to modern such maps. Problems with business ventures and the victim of plagiarism of his geological map, Smith found himself in a debtor’s prison. After his release, he continued working as a surveyor and was responsible for building the Rotunda Geological Museum in Scarborough. When Smith produced his ground-breaking map in 1815, he was overlooked by the scientific community as a commoner. However, in 1831, his achievements were finally recognised by the Geological Society of London with the first Wollaston medal conferred on him by the Society. The Society President referred to him as “The father of English Geology”. This report by Alan Strickland was published in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard in April May 2017 Exploring Sisters Longbarrow - Tim Darvill At the May meeting Professor Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University gave an update on the on- going excavations at Sisters Longbarrow on Abbey Home Farm. Depositing and honouring the dead in the Cotswold/Severn area 6000 years ago involved a particular tradition of constructing substantial monuments in the landscape which we now call longbarrows. These huge trapezoidal mounds of stone and earth hide various patterns of chamber and passageway containing human bones covering three or four generations. Many of these sites, for example Belas Knap are well known to those interested in our local Neolithic ancestors, the earliest Cotswold farmers. Occasionally, as is the case with Sisters Longbarrow, new sites are discovered through survey and observation. Thanks to the support of the owner, Will Chester-Master, Tim and his team of archaeology students and enthusiastic local volunteers have begun to uncover the long, low mound in his field and much information has been discovered. The barrow is a complex one built carefully with a framework of ancient stone walling. Emerging evidence challenges some received wisdom on longbarrow types and has thrown fresh interest on neighbouring sites. The bones from one of the round barrows investigated and removed when Chedworth airfield was constructed in WW2 can now be dated as Neolithic. Could the unusual construction of Sisters turn out to be evidence for an original round barrow ‘modernised’ 6000 years ago into a more fashionable long shape? Adult and child bones have been discovered stuffed into an entrance passageway. Are they related? Were they born locally? Cultural links with similar sites in Brittany and Normandy add more complexity to the mix. Once again more questions are raised than answers but modern scientific techniques are coming to the rescue. The dig continues this August and is open daily except Mondays from 9th – 23rd, between 9am and 5pm. Please see The Organic Farm Shop website for details. Report by Anne Buffoni June 2017    

CORN HALL, CIRENCESTER MARKET PLACE

Cirencester Abbey – Digging into the Past  

A significant contribution to the Abbey 900 celebrations in Cirencester was successfully delivered to an appreciative audience in the Corn Hall, in the form of an evening of talks and presentations from the town’s main archaeological and historical bodies. Organised by the Society jointly with Cotswold Archaeology, Digging the Past focussed on what is known and is still being discovered about the site and history of the Abbey of St Mary, which is now of course the town’s much-loved Abbey Grounds public park. Speakers each developed a theme, ably chaired by Tim Darvill, who is well-known as an archaeologist on the national stage and was here acting as Chair of Cotswold Archaeology, one of the evening’s sponsors. Martin Watts described the excavations of the 1960s, much admired in their day, which firmly established the location of the abbey, and its earlier Anglo-Saxon church. The building outline is now marked out in the park. Carolyn Heighway and Richard Bryant from Past Historic emphasised the significance of the study of the Abbey stonework and the quality of what survived its demolition at the Reformation in the mid-16th century. Beth Hartland from the Victoria County History team currently studying Cirencester showed the value of historic research on surviving medieval documents and produced some very people- friendly stories of daily life. Tim Darvill weaved the story together, from the foundation of the Abbey in 1117 (hence Abbey 900 celebrations this year) right through to the drama of closure and dispersal some 400 years later. The Corn Hall proved to be an excellent venue, generously supported by Wildmoor Properties, a pleasure to hold such a public gathering in this historic venue again. As Abbey 900 continues its programme through 2017, this evening of celebration provided some firm historical framework on which the celebrations can be enjoyed. This report by David Viner was published in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard on 3 Aug 2017        

Sep 2016 - David Jaques

Oct 2016- Will Parker

Nov 2016 - Paul Barnett

Jan 2017 - Ruth Iliffe

Feb 2017 - Croome Lecture - David Robinson

Mar 2017 - Francis Boorman

Mar 2017 - CA Lecture - Mark Maltby

Apr 2017 - David Vessey

May 2017 - Tim Darvill

Jun 2017 - Digging up Cirencester Abbey

Reports for season 2015-6

Page last updated 10 August 2017
© CAHS & contributors 2016-7 Registered Charity 287289
Cirencester Archaeological  & Historical Society

Reports of our lectures held

during 2016-7

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.

March 2017

Victoria County History comes to Cirencester c1540-1945 -

Francis Boorman

Our talk on March 8th was by Dr Francis Boorman from the Victoria County History (VCH) research team in Gloucester. VCH is so-called as it started work in Victorian times to research the history of every town and parish in England, checking original documents. This herculean task is divided into small chunks. Francis showed how little of Gloucestershire has yet been studied. Religious houses in the County, including our Abbey, were written up 110 years ago. Francis is leading a team studying Cirencester from 1547- 1945. Francis chose to tell us about the changing political culture during this period. Cirencester was a so-called “potwalloper” borough – all male heads of household could vote, which was unusual. It sent two MPs to Westminster until 1867. In the 16th and 17th centuries, these were mostly members of the Poole and Master families. Often there was no contest requiring an election. When the Bathursts arrived in the 18th century, if an election was called, the Bathurst family appointed the Returning Officer. In 1712 the electorate was about 600 males from a population of about 3600 males. Until 1754, Bathurst and Master families were regularly returned. When elections occurred, the turnout was 72-82%. No doubt there was some chicanery. In 1784, three deaths from drinking to excess at an election toast were recorded. Secret balloting was not introduced until 1872. Before that it was common for the poll to be open for several days – until the right result? The 1832 Great Reform Act, aimed at getting rid of “rotten Boroughs” required the head of household to own land worth £10, which reduced the electorate from 731 to 261, though those who previously had the right to vote, kept that right until death. Political party was hardly mentioned on posters until the beginning of the 20th century. The Liberals came on the local scene in the mid-19th century. In 1859 there was a court case about the abduction of voters. The constituency was enlarged to form East Gloucestershire- roughly the area of the current District- in 1885, and enlarged further to be Cirencester and Tewkesbury 1918, being a safe Tory seat ever since, even though Tewkesbury is now lost. Francis rounded off the evening by telling us of much bad feeling occurring between Parish Clerk and Sexton, as recorded in Vestry books from 1613-1836. This eventually eased as civil local government gradually evolved. This report by Peter Watkins was originally published in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard in March 2017 March 2017   The Mick Aston Lecture for Cotswold Archaeology Animals and Society in the Roman Cotswolds - Dr Mark Maltby To Follow April 2017 Joint meeting with Cirencester Science & Technology Society The Map which Changed the World - David Vessey At the annual joint lecture with Cirencester Science & Technology Society on April 12th, David Vessey BSc delivered a fascinating talk on the work of William Smith who is credited with producing the first geological map of England and Wales. William Smith (1769-1839) born the son of a blacksmith, was an intelligent boy who was fascinated with rocks, fossils and the structure of the Earth. In 1787, he became assistant surveyor to Edward Webb, of Stow-on-the Wold, quickly learning his trade before moving to Somerset as surveyor to the Somerset coalfield and coal canal. His survey work greatly assisted his understanding and knowledge of geology. His travels round the UK recording various soils and stone types enabled him to build a picture of the rock strata which he used to interpret the different landscapes. This knowledge was needed to help identify locations for coal, iron ore, clays and other raw materials. Using agricultural map design principles, Smith made a detailed, coloured map of the Bath area and in 1815, he produced the first geological map of England and Wales. This is remarkably similar to modern such maps. Problems with business ventures and the victim of plagiarism of his geological map, Smith found himself in a debtor’s prison. After his release, he continued working as a surveyor and was responsible for building the Rotunda Geological Museum in Scarborough. When Smith produced his ground-breaking map in 1815, he was overlooked by the scientific community as a commoner. However, in 1831, his achievements were finally recognised by the Geological Society of London with the first Wollaston medal conferred on him by the Society. The Society President referred to him as “The father of English Geology”. This report by Alan Strickland was published in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard in April May 2017 Exploring Sisters Longbarrow - Tim Darvill At the May meeting Professor Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University gave an update on the on-going excavations at Sisters Longbarrow on Abbey Home Farm. Depositing and honouring the dead in the Cotswold/Severn area 6000 years ago involved a particular tradition of constructing substantial monuments in the landscape which we now call longbarrows. These huge trapezoidal mounds of stone and earth hide various patterns of chamber and passageway containing human bones covering three or four generations. Many of these sites, for example Belas Knap are well known to those interested in our local Neolithic ancestors, the earliest Cotswold farmers. Occasionally, as is the case with Sisters Longbarrow, new sites are discovered through survey and observation. Thanks to the support of the owner, Will Chester-Master, Tim and his team of archaeology students and enthusiastic local volunteers have begun to uncover the long, low mound in his field and much information has been discovered. The barrow is a complex one built carefully with a framework of ancient stone walling. Emerging evidence challenges some received wisdom on longbarrow types and has thrown fresh interest on neighbouring sites. The bones from one of the round barrows investigated and removed when Chedworth airfield was constructed in WW2 can now be dated as Neolithic. Could the unusual construction of Sisters turn out to be evidence for an original round barrow ‘modernised’ 6000 years ago into a more fashionable long shape? Adult and child bones have been discovered stuffed into an entrance passageway. Are they related? Were they born locally? Cultural links with similar sites in Brittany and Normandy add more complexity to the mix. Once again more questions are raised than answers but modern scientific techniques are coming to the rescue. The dig continues this August and is open daily except Mondays from 9th – 23rd, between 9am and 5pm. Please see The Organic Farm Shop website for details. Report by Anne Buffoni June 2017    

CORN HALL, CIRENCESTER MARKET PLACE

Cirencester Abbey – Digging into the Past  

A significant contribution to the Abbey 900 celebrations in Cirencester was successfully delivered to an appreciative audience in the Corn Hall, in the form of an evening of talks and presentations from the town’s main archaeological and historical bodies. Organised by the Society jointly with Cotswold Archaeology, Digging the Past focussed on what is known and is still being discovered about the site and history of the Abbey of St Mary, which is now of course the town’s much-loved Abbey Grounds public park. Speakers each developed a theme, ably chaired by Tim Darvill, who is well-known as an archaeologist on the national stage and was here acting as Chair of Cotswold Archaeology, one of the evening’s sponsors. Martin Watts described the excavations of the 1960s, much admired in their day, which firmly established the location of the abbey, and its earlier Anglo-Saxon church. The building outline is now marked out in the park. Carolyn Heighway and Richard Bryant from Past Historic emphasised the significance of the study of the Abbey stonework and the quality of what survived its demolition at the Reformation in the mid-16th century. Beth Hartland from the Victoria County History team currently studying Cirencester showed the value of historic research on surviving medieval documents and produced some very people-friendly stories of daily life. Tim Darvill weaved the story together, from the foundation of the Abbey in 1117 (hence Abbey 900 celebrations this year) right through to the drama of closure and dispersal some 400 years later. The Corn Hall proved to be an excellent venue, generously supported by Wildmoor Properties, a pleasure to hold such a public gathering in this historic venue again. As Abbey 900 continues its programme through 2017, this evening of celebration provided some firm historical framework on which the celebrations can be enjoyed. This report by David Viner was published in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard on 3 Aug 2017

Sep 2016 - David Jaques

Oct 2016- Will Parker

Nov 2016 - Paul Barnett

Jan 2017 - Ruth Iliffe

Feb 2017 - Croome Lecture -

David Robinson

Mar 2017 - Francis Boorman

Mar 2017 - CA Lecture - Mark

Maltby

Apr 2017 - David Vessey

May 2017 - Tim Darvill

Jun 2017 - Digging up

Cirencester Abbey

Reports for season 2015-6

Page last updated 10 August 2017