Try not to be too disappointed, but we have no useless facts to amaze you with in this edition. However, regular visitors to the area will have noticed that quite a lot of work has gone on in terms of clearance and other changes across the whole complex, of which more further on. Much of this has been done by the Community Payback Team, and thanks are due to them for the several Sunday’s worth of effort that they gave us.
We mentioned in our last newsletter that we would love to create a sculpture trail across the complex, and this is still a longer term objective. Nevertheless, there are already in existence many items and locations of particular interest as you go around, so, in the shorter term, it is our intention to develop an App which will give a guided tour. Following an appeal to our readership, our thanks go to the several people who have kindly offered their time and expertise to work on this: we’ll keep you posted.
Our Roman history of the area continues and we’re now up to part 3. This has been moved to the end of the newsletter.
Significant further clearance and general tidying up has been carried out at this location which should now see us through until spring, by which time we hope to have a more structured maintenance programme in place.
An interpretation board is being developed and will be placed next to the obelisk. This will give information about the obelisk (of which little is known) and the Bathgate cemetery which in Roman times extended to beyond the dual carriageway.
Visitors come to the site and, apart from a fairly recently installed sign by the entrance from Cotswold Avenue, there is absolutely no on-site information, and nothing at all showing the layout. It is genuinely not unknown for visitors to come and then leave without actually having seen the amphitheatre proper, and being understandably somewhat disappointed at this (non) experience. It is the desire of the Town Council and AQIVA to address these shortcomings and to make the whole visitor experience more interesting, informative and enjoyable.
Fortunately, English Heritage is now taking a much more active interest in the site than has previously been the case and this is making more things possible. They have agreed to fund interpretation boards (probably located at either end of the amphitheatre bowl) as well as more general direction and layout signs. This is a joint project with input from EH, the Corinium Museum, the Town Council and AQIVA.
There are plans to locate a topograph on the viewing platform which is to the right of the entrance from Cotswold Avenue (this is a sort of mounted plaque which shows the site and its context within the surrounding areas). Alongside this would be a reproduction of what the seating in the amphitheatre would originally have looked like. Disappointingly, our initial application for external funding to achieve this was turned down, but we will continue to look for alternative sources.
The Town Council are working with the Churn Project to deliver a training course in dry stone walling, focusing on repairs to the wall between the amphitheatre and the ambulance station, as well as along Cotswold Avenue. The Cotswolds Conservation Board (areas of outstanding natural beauty) will provide the trainer and English Heritage will fund the materials.
During October, a considerable amount of work was undertaken to clear along the sides of the pathways and to open up the exit from the woods into the amphitheatre, giving this whole section a much lighter aspect.
Four Acre Field
Those of you who have been in since the end of September will have seen that the notice board and benches have finally been installed. We will try to keep the notice board fresh with anything new, though as we go from autumn into winter, there is currently little in the way of activities or events. It is gratifying to see how much the benches are being used, by all ages, and our congratulations (but no bottle of champagne) to the very first members of the public (see below) to avail themselves of this new facility. They say that everybody is famous for 15 minutes, so Sam, Darren (and Toby), this is your time.
We are currently working with the Town Council to plan the wild flower planting for next year
Heritage Open Day
Took place in September, when we repeated the previous year’s guided tours of the amphitheatre, followed by the evening bat talk and walk. These were very well attended and are set to become an annual feature.