Spring – Summer 2017
The reason that it seems a long time since our last newsletter is that it has been. We trust that meanwhile you have been able to keep yourselves entertained in other ways and that the wait has been worthwhile. That said, we start on a sour note: you probably know that at either end of the amphitheatre bowl are two large stone plinths, each supporting an information plaque. Or, rather, they did, as the plaque from the stone at the end nearest the dual carriageway has been stolen. Not a lot else you can say, really. So, on a much more positive note, we will start with an important event at the end of July.
Love Parks Week
Love Parks Week is an annual, nationwide (no, dear, not the building society) event which this year runs from Friday 28 July to Sunday 6 August, and is aimed at encouraging people of all ages to get to know and use the green spaces in their area. As always, there will be a series of activities around Cirencester during this 10 day week. This year, proceedings will be started by AQIVA, with various happenings around the site on Friday 28 July.
The mainstay of the day will be a 5 a side football tournament, together with football skills training, sponsored by Tesco, for 8-12 year olds. This will take place on 4 Acre Field, running from 2pm to 5pm. There is no need to pre-book or come with a ready made team: just turn up in good time and everything will be sorted out on the day. Please note that all kids who take part must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
While this is going on, Mac from Elite Fitness has kindly offered to be in attendance by the outdoor exercise equipment to give guidance to anyone who would like to learn more as to how to use it to best effect to meet their needs. He will be there from 2pm to 4pm.
In addition, also in the field, there will be a nature quiz for kids between 4pm and 5pm.
Our activities will conclude with a guided history tour of the Amphitheatre, leaving from 4 Acre Field at 6.15pm. These tours normally last around 1¼ hours.
We are looking forward to what should be a very enjoyable day for everyone. All events are free, but if you would like to make a donation that would go towards helping us with future projects and maintenance work, any amount, however small, will be gratefully received. In particular, at the moment, and following many requests from owners of small children and dogs, we are looking for funding to put a self closing gate at the exit from 4 Acre Field onto Chesterton Lane.
So, we move on to our normal roundup of what’s happened, and what’s planned around the site, starting, as always, with:
As reported in our previous newsletter, on 28 January the design workshop for the area surrounding the obelisk took place. The overall intention was to explore how the location might be regenerated to be in keeping with its 18th century origins. The final proposal has now been produced, a copy of which can be found at the end of this newsletter. The area has been divided into several zones, each with a different type of planting: this also means that the project can be tackled in stages both timewise and from a funding point of view. It seems like quite a small area but it will be a considerable task, not least in terms of ground preparation. It is only in the last few years that any work has been done to make the site more tidy, open and accessible, following decades of neglect, so it will be a challenging project. We are pleased to advise, however, that the scheme has been accepted by Waitrose to be included in their “Community Matters” programme for August, so please make sure your green tokens go in the right section!
Meanwhile, further work has already been done, with a large number of whips planted by Cotswold Tree Wardens just inside the drystone wall, ultimately to form a hedge and, on a final note, this area was the proud recipient of the first of the bat boxes to go up.
The demise of one of the information boards has already been reported in the introduction: it is of no use to anyone, so just petty, mindless vandalism.
A meeting with the town council/AQIVA and English Heritage in April gained approval in principle for the idea of the replica Roman seating and a toposcope, as mentioned in previous newsletters. These would be located on the viewing platform to the right of the gate as you come in from Cotswold Avenue. The current thoughts are to have the seating as two semi circles, roughly mimicking the shape of the amphitheatre itself, with the toposcope in the middle. There is also an idea to have a Roman themed mural running down the slope to the left of this same entrance.
In spite of a damp start, the Fly, Flutter & Squeak evening, (led by the Cirencester Wildlife Group, the Gloucestershire Naturalists Society and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust) proved to be fascinating. Several small mammals (wood mice and bank voles) obligingly entered the traps, and, just to reassure you, these are effectively temporary nests, with food and bedding, and set by very experienced naturalists. The creatures are subsequently released unharmed. The bats also put on a good show, but we were badly let down by moths. You know how, on a warm summer evening, you have some windows open in your home and, as it gets dark, if you forget to shut the windows when you turn the lights on, you get an invasion of moths. Well, this seems to be a much more effective way of attracting them than having a special light and a large white sheet, manned by an expert in this sort of thing.
There has been a substantial increase in the number of visitors to the site over the last 12 months, including many from outside the UK. We are doing periodic visitor counts which are not simply of academic interest, but do serve an important purpose. If it can be shown that the area does attract a significant number of visitors and, even better, if the numbers are increasing, this can be quite influential in attracting funding for ongoing work and projects. And the more attractive it can be made, the more people will come visit – and they all spend money in the town.
We will be doing another visitor count in August, spread over a week – actual timing to be confirmed. This simply involves standing in the amphitheatre for an hour looking pretty, and counting people. If you could help out, please let Alison know: email@example.com
If you’ve been through the woods recently, you will have seen that a couple of large trees have been felled: sad, but necessary for safety reasons. However, they will be put to good use. You may recall from our last newsletter that Ronan’s Trust had a tree planting day in the woods and, just to recap, the Trust was set up specifically to support people who have suffered a close family bereavement by bringing them together to share a range of horticultural projects and experiences.
This time, they are funding an outdoor furniture making workshop, using the wood from these felled trees, once it has been planked up. This will take place on 9th & 10th August, starting at 10am. You will understand that primarily this is being organised to benefit those for whom the trust was set up. However, others will be welcome, but it is necessary to book a place, so they have an idea of the numbers coming. Please see the events section of www.ronanstrust.org for more information. In any case, we will all benefit from the end results, as some of the furniture will be placed in the area of the original planting and some will be allocated to other suitable locations.
Changing the subject, you may recall our report on the sarcophagus that had spent many years in the hospital grounds as an oversized flowerpot and was subsequently moved (without flowers) to the end of the pathway that leads from the woods to the main hospital entrance. There were concerns that it might fill with water that could freeze during the winter months, leading to the stone cracking, so it is now the recipient of a new shelter.
Four Acre Field
On 23 March, Sustainability Day, the kids from Chesterton Primary were out in force again for what has become their annual wild flower seed sowing event. If you’ve been through the field recently, you will have seen the magnificent results, both on the slope across the field and along the eastern border: without doubt, the best year yet.
There is still the intention to replace the unsightly wire netting at the entrance from Cotswold Close with a knee high fence, hopefully during the course of this year.
The town now has a new environmental enforcement officer. His early focus will be on the green spaces around the town, including the AQIVA complex, particularly with reference to dog fouling, littering and general antisocial behaviour. Quite a significant task, but he has the authority to issue on the spot fines and, hopefully, the word will spread.
You will have received our recent email about the help we need with our various activities, site maintenance, visitor counts, litter picking and so on. As stated, we do want this to be a site we can all be proud of, but we really do need some help. We will keep you informed as things are planned, and even if you can only spare an hour or so on occasions, this will make a big difference.
See also the notice board at the entrance from Chesterton Lane into 4 Acre Field.
If you would like any more detail, please contact our secretary, Alison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a detailed full copy of the Obelisk plan please contact Alison, at email@example.com