AQIVA Newsletter: Summer – Autumn 2018

November 1, 2018

posted by Joanna Tubbs

Summer – Autumn 2018

Cirencester Roman Amphitheatre from above

The amphitheatre hogs the headlines this time round, for two reasons, the first being the welcome return on 23rd September of the Ermine Street Guard and their wonderful Roman army re-enactment. More of this, and pictures, further down this newsletter, but the day deserves pride of place.

Second, which you may or may not have seen, is the appearance at the end of August, on the BBC’s “The One Show”, of Nick Knowles (DIY SOS and sundry other things) who is convinced that Cirencester was the site of Camelot (as in King Arthur, not the lottery fund). As part of this, he maintains that the amphitheatre itself was the round table, around which the 5,000 knights could sit without anyone taking precedence. We pass on this little gem without further comment, and move on to modern times.

Obelisk

Our organised maintenance programme for this year is pretty much complete and we achieved most of what we set out to do. Sincere thanks to the few who joined in with the committee to get the work done, and, as previously mentioned, to St James’s Place for their work parties. Come the spring, it will start again, and we will once more be hunting for bodies to join us.

Planting at the Obelisk

Amphitheatre

In spite of the best efforts of the weather, the Roman re-enactment gave us a wonderful day. It is getting on for 10 years since we last had the pleasure of seeing the Ermine Street Guard in action here, and they did not disappoint. The main displays of the Roman army in action were held in the amphitheatre itself at midday, for which the rain finally held off, and 3pm, at which time the sun even managed to put in an appearance. On a perfect day, they would also have set up camp in the amphitheatre, with a static display of Roman weapons, tools, surgical instruments, foodstuffs and other things that would have been familiar to a time traveller from that period. As it was, that was all set up in the scout hut as the heavy rain in the morning, and periodic showers during the rest of the day, made an outdoor display impractical.

All told, we reckon we had some 500-600 visitors across the day and, as the saying goes, a great time was had by all.

Attacker number five please!
Are you sure the locals are friendly?

Thanks are due, not just to the Ermine Street Guard, but also to English Heritage, Cirencester Town Council, the volunteers who helped us as stewards on the day, and the scouts for use of their hut.

After that, anything else seems a bit of an anti-climax, but more good news – the order for the toposcope has now been placed and we are expecting it to be installed in November. We’ll follow up with more specific info as soon as we have it.

We also had Heritage open day on 8th September – as part of our contribution, we again did our two guided history tours of the amphitheatre. In the light of the (again) iffy weather, our total audience of around 20 people made it a worthwhile event. Our evening bat talk and walk has now become a firm favourite on the calendar, with a really gratifying 60 or so people coming along this year.

Querns Wood

Little to report since last time – just general ongoing maintenance, but be there fairies in them there woods?

Four Acre Field

As is now the norm, we kicked off the first day (27 July) of the town’s Love Parks Week with a range of events on the field, for which the weather was much kinder than last year. Tesco again sponsored a kids 5 a side football competition, there was a very popular nature based treasure hunt for the younger children and we had a professional fitness trainer in attendance by the outdoor exercise equipment.

Five-a-side football on Four Acre Field during Love Parks Week
Families enjoying Love Parks Week at Four Acre Field

This was followed by a football match between Tesco and Aldi. It was a close run thing, with a mere 8 goal differential between the two teams. In the interest of impartiality, we won’t say who won.

The day finished with the amphitheatre guided tour, enjoyed by 25 visitors. Overall, we had a pretty good turnout throughout the day. All these events will be part of the annual town calendar, and we look forward to welcoming even more people next year.

Finally, one further activity worthy of note: one fine August evening, a group of 30 or so Tesco staff were out on 4 acre field for a fun evening of rounders. Why mention this? Simply that this is what our green spaces are about – there for everyone to use and enjoy, and part of our role at AQIVA is to do our bit in raising awareness of their existence and in helping to maintain them as attractive places to be.

Tesco staff making the most of our green spaces

Volunteer Programme

Come the spring, we will be starting a new scheduled programme of maintenance and other work projects. As always, we’ll need plenty of help – don’t get too excited, but we’ll be back in touch nearer the time. Please remember, even if you can just spare an hour occasionally, this can make a significant difference.

Visitor Counts

Completed for this year and have contributed towards building up a  year on year picture of  visitor numbers. Our thanks to all those who volunteered to spend a happy hour (without the half price drinks) in the amphitheatre counting anything that moved.

Vandalism and other anti-social behaviour

We mentioned briefly in our previous newsletter the growing incidence of vandalism across the town. In this connection, the town council recently had a meeting with the police, and they circulated the following to the various community/friends groups and other interested parties.

We met with the police last week to discuss the vandalism that has taken place in our parks over the summer, in particular at the Abbey Grounds and City Bank. We also discussed the drug dealing that a number of you have discussed. They now know when the community and friends groups meet and time permitting will call in and give updates.

The police will try and do patrols through the parks and request that people report crime and anti social behaviour so that they can build up a picture of when best to patrol. It is best to email 101@gloucestershire.police.uk as this gets through to the staff on the ground quicker than phoning 101. It also saves hanging on whilst waiting for the call to go through.

In terms of the drug dealing that some of you have observed at City Bank, Abbey Grounds and Four Acre Field with dealers in cars – the police request that all incidences are reported and ideally car registration numbers, time of day, description of people, etc included.

Nobody is being asked to become involved, but simply to be extra sets of eyes that may assist the police in tackling this unwanted and damaging behaviour.

Communication

Apart from this newsletter, you can find information and photos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfAmphitheatre

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 aqivasec@gmail.com.

If you have friends, family, neighbours or anyone who might be interested in learning more about what is going on, please pass on our contact details.

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