AQIVA Newsletter: Winter 2015/16

February 23, 2016

posted by Joanna Tubbs

The Obelisk

New signposts have been made, courtesy of English Heritage, which will be located in the car park by the scout hut. These will give clearer guidance regarding access to the amphitheatre itself. Awaiting installation, but should be very soon.

The infill on the pathway and steps leading from the obelisk, across the bridge, and up to the viewing platform had settled and compressed, so this has been further “topped up”.

Work continues on developing an interpretation board which will be placed next to the obelisk. This will give information about the obelisk itself (although not too much is known about it) and the Bathgate cemetery, which in Roman times extended to beyond the dual carriageway.

There is a plan to create a pathway from the obelisk down into the woodland area between the amphitheatre bowl and the dual carriageway. It was hoped to have this done during Jan/Feb, but it has had to be deferred, probably until the autumn.

The Amphitheatre

To quote from our previous newsletter:

“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.”

As well as the signage mentioned in the obelisk section, a further significant step towards rectifying this situation has been taken within the last few days. If you haven’t already seen, do come and look at the large stone mounts which have been located at either end of the amphitheatre bowl. Plaques have been set on the stones giving more information about the amphitheatre site and also the excavations carried out in 1966. This has been a joint project with input from English Heritage, 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. If any local businesses might be interested in sponsoring this project, we would welcome the opportunity to explore further with you.

You may have seen the repairs to a couple of sections of the drystone wall that runs between the amphitheatre and the ambulance station. This was a win/win training opportunity organised by the Town Council with participants from the Churn project and with training/supervision provided by the Cotswolds Conservation Board. To quote the CCB:

“The aim of the project is to provide an opportunity for unemployed and low skilled workers in the Cirencester area to gain knowledge and experience in a traditional rural skill which has the potential to lead to future employment opportunities within and around the Cotswolds AONB” (area of outstanding natural beauty). Those participants who wish to do so, can follow on to achieve a formal qualification.

The pathway running down from the Cotswold Avenue entrance has been topped up with fresh, clean material.

The lake that appears during periods of heavy run in the wooded section between the bottom of the slope (running down from the obelisk) and the dual carriageway made its expected appearance. Seen from a distance, it can actually look quite pretty.

Querns Wood

A Roman sarcophagus has been installed by the wellbeing entrance to Querns Wood (this is the one located opposite the main hospital entrance). This was excavated many moons ago from the site and spent a large part of its recent life as a very large flower pot! It has now been rescued and relocated (minus flowers) to this new position.

Roman sarcophagus

Regular users of the pathway from the woods into the amphitheatre will know that the section as you leave the woods gets very muddy after heavy rain, and this year has been no exception. Following the clearance work done last year, there is now a level track off to the left as you exit the woods, and turf reinforcement mesh has been put down to help make this a safer option. However, the mud was already a pretty dominant feature when the mesh went down so this did not have as positive an impact as had been hoped. This needs to be reviewed when everything finally dries out.

Four Acre Field

It’s coming up to wild flower sowing time again, but there is an enormous amount of preparation work needed to maximise the benefit/impact of this. We will email you again when we have a firm date for this work in case any of you are willing and able to assist.

In common with everywhere else in recent months, parts of the field got somewhat soggy, to say the least. But some of us enjoyed it!

Charlie, I think you’ll find they’re ducks, not sheep!

During 2014, Gloucestershire County Council launched a programme called “Active Together”, through which they would make a sum of money available to every county councillor (of which Cirencester has two) to allocate to projects promoting health and wellbeing within their area. (subject to GCC approval). Grants could be made available to a variety of organisations, including town councils, parish councils, as well as clubs and other societies – basically, consideration would be given to any proposal that would meet the clearly defined Active Together guidelines. Cirencester Town Council applied for a grant from this scheme to install outdoor exercise equipment at several locations around the town, including 4 Acre Field, and this has been approved. Our bit is likely to consist of three or four pieces of equipment, which will be located in the dip between the wild flower area and the tree line along the edge of Querns Wood. It is anticipated that this will be installed during the spring.

Volunteer Programme

AQIVA has now obtained public liability insurance that will enable us to undertake projects independently of the Town Council and we are making progress with a programme of volunteering opportunities for this year. We have already circulated a questionnaire asking for anyone who is willing to volunteer to help with projects/events on a regular or ad hoc basis to contact us. If you meant to return the form, but haven’t done so yet, please just email Alison on aqivasec@gmail.com  to say what projects you might be interested in.

They types of projects we have in mind for this year are:

  • Clearance and conservation work
  • Sowing & planting  e.g. wildflowers in 4 Acre Field and around the Obelisk
  • Biodiversity projects/surveys
  • Events/ Activities – e.g. Heritage Open Day in September
  • Visitor Surveys/Counts
  • Building bird& bat boxes, insect hotels etc.
  • Improving our media profile – e.g. continuing to develop our App & build a website.
  • Litter picks

Children are welcome to join in our projects provided it is safe for them to do so and they are accompanied by a responsible adult.

And (nearly) finally

Communication – We have already mentioned in the introduction that we now have a twitter account and are working on the website. Also, there is plenty of information as well as photographs on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfAmphitheatre?fref=ts

If you would like any more detail, please contact our secretary, Alison, at aqivasec@gmail.com. If anyone would like to see previous newsletters, please let Alison know (sorry, but email only).

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