Reports of our lectures held during 2019-21
We reported our lectures in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard for many years, but sadly the newspaper lost interest. 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 the talk. 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.
September 2019 Report
From gold to sweets: the problem of small change – Richard Reece
The phrase ‘worth its weight in gold’ can sometimes be used lightly, but not in the world of coins and their history. In his talk ‘From gold to sweets: the problem of small change’ Dr Richard Reece, acclaimed archaeologist and numismatist, gave his audience a fascinating insight into the development and use of coins.
It all started with electrum flakes that were melted and stamped in Sardis, Asia Minor, in 600BC, then remarkably sophisticated silver designs emerged out of Greek Syracuse, Sicily. Eventually Rome caught onto the usefulness of a state controlled system of graded coins and money changers across its empire by 80AD. Inevitably, the quality and metal content fluctuated with successive leaders, laws and economic pressures.
After Rome declined, the story in Britain was the same, and it was a long period of transition with gold or silver favoured, before the medieval Crusaders were introduced to the copper coins of the Middle East. Much later, Elizabeth I restored the debased –hardly silver- coins of her father’s system back up to objects with true value and a more settled system was established up to the present day. Many interesting examples of coins and associated stories were given by Dr Reece, from his unique wealth of knowledge in this field. And on his prompting, how many can also remember being given sweets as part of our change in 1960s Italy?
Report by Anne Buffoni
October 2019 Report
The Cotswold Navy – What’s in a name? – Paul Barnett
A visit to the Severn foreshore at Purton would introduce you to the graveyard of a civilian fleet, beached in the 1970s as a breakwater to protect the Sharpness to Gloucester Canal. Paul explained in detail the local companies that built and worked the vessels until their demise, and how they were named and linked with local towns and villages.
Gloucestershire increased its connection with the maritime world during the Second World War; Cotswold residents came to form historic and valued links with the British Navy during the nationally organised ‘Warship Weeks’. As part of the war effort communities were set targets and challenged to raise money, firstly to replace equipment lost at Dunkirk and to strengthen the Atlantic convoy escorts with materials, then the scheme expanded into the adoption of a range of vessels and equipment. £700,000 could buy a destroyer, £2,000 a torpedo, £3.15 shillings a lifebelt, and through donations, tea dances and whist drives impressive amounts were raised in a short time.
After a local Warship Week in March 1942, Cirencester and surrounding villages were able to sponsor the U-class submarine HMS Uproar (P31) that spent most of the war operating successfully out of Malta.
Report by Aileen Anderson
Woodchester Mansion – an Unfinished Masterpiece – Liz Davenport
The meeting arranged for November was held two weeks later when the speaker had recovered. We thank the Cirencester Civic Society for inviting us to their regular meeting. A report is not yet available
The Supply of Olive Oil to the Roman Garrison at Glevum –
The Croome Lecture – A joint meeting with Cirencester Civic Society
Early Farmers in the Cotswolds – Professor Timothy Darvill
On Monday 17th February the Croome Lecture was given in the Parish Church by Professor Tim Darvill on ‘Early Farmers in the Cotswolds’. This is an annual free public lecture sponsored jointly by the Cirencester Archaeological and Historical Society and the Civic Society.
The evening began with David Viner giving a short resume of Will Croome’s biography and his legacy in the Cirencester community.
Professor Darvill then took us back to Neolithic times around 4000 BC when farming arrived in the Cotswolds, replacing the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The farming communities who came to the Cotswolds were from the European mainland. From artefacts like perforated shale bracelet pieces, and the similarity of the construction of their stone tombs, a link to the region of Western France can readily be confirmed. Expertly constructed dry-stone burial mounds or barrows are visible evidence of these people today. The Cotswold area has the largest concentration of Neolithic Long Barrows in Europe. Many will have heard of Belas Knap and Hetty Peglar’s Tump. However investigations into them over the years have created more questions than answers! Some of the ways they seemed to treat their dead are hard to understand. There is firm evidence they brought sheep, pigs, cattle, wheat and barley but beyond that the way they considered their world can only be guesswork.
Recent scientific advances in DNA and isotope analysis, and environmental sampling, are likely to help. Professor Darvill talked about his current work on Sisters Long Barrow on the Chester-Master estate, Abbey Home Farm. Stone structures were established there in the very early Neolithic which then underwent various phases of development into a barrow. Dating of the first antler quarrying tools begins a sequence, with subsequent human remains, pottery and charcoal finds up to the 4th century BC. The site has been progressively excavated by students and staff from Bournemouth University and volunteers. It is hoped that work will re-commence during August. If so, visitors are welcome.
Report by Civic Society
February 2021 by Zoom
Fighting for our civic future – the role of the CPRE
Professor Patricia Broadfoot (University of Bristol)
This meeting can be seen at youtu.be/bWBLch0i2a0 thanks to CCS/Martin Graebe
Educating Ciren – Pamela Morris No report available