AQIVA News Letter 20

Cirencester Roman Amphitheatre

Friends of the AMPHITHEATRE QUERNS WOOD and IV ACRE FIELD

Newsletter No. 20

Autumn 2020

Early September morning, Four Acres field

In the more than 6 years since our first newsletter (March 2014), we have issued either 3 or 4 every year, but as far as 2020 is concerned, this is it! Obviously pretty much all our planned events and activities have been cancelled or postponed, but some things have still been going on in the background, and Mother Nature has carried on regardless. So we figured that it was time to let you know we still exist, bring you up to date on what has been happening, and show a few pictures from around the site at different times of the year.

AMPHITHEATRE

Looking back at the objectives we set ourselves when we started out, one was a target of having at least 25% of Cirencester residents coming to the amphitheatre on a regular basis by 2020. Very laudable, but it now seems naively optimistic. However, in the weeks following the initial lockdown, we probably had more local people visiting for the first time than in all of the previous 6 years combined. Typical comments were along the lines of “We’ve lived here for 20 years but never been before” or even “We didn’t know it was here”. Gratifyingly, conversations (from a safe distance) with people almost always showed a positive experience.

Amphitheatre, mid April

For quite some time now, we have talked about proposed improvements to the pathway that leads out of Querns Wood into the amphitheatre (the section that gets horrendously muddy every winter). This has dragged on for various logistical and cost reasons, but all being well, a trial length should be put down towards the end of this year. If it proves to be effective, the plan is to extend it to cover the worst of the link between these two areas.

QUERNS WOOD

Not a lot to report, except the possible sighting of magic mushrooms!

Spotted in mid-June

Also, a mix of sand and gravel has been spread along the entrances to the woods from Four Acre Field which hopefully may alleviate the extremely muddy patches that form there when the rain hits in earnest. 

FOUR ACRE FIELD

There’s always something interesting to find, if you look hard enough.

Mid June. These black, spiny caterpillars will become peacock butterflies

You may recall from newsletter 19, that GWT (Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust) ploughed and sowed a section of the field on the Querns Wood side as part of their Wild Towns project to create wild flower meadows at different locations around the town and county wide. They specifically stated not to expect very much in the first year or two, but we had a sneaking hope that we might prove to be the exception to the rule. We did get some poppies and daisies but beyond that, they clearly know what they are talking about! However, this should become something quite special in the years to come.

For the time being, we’ve had to abandon thoughts of maintaining any sort of tidiness along the eastern side. By the middle of July, the brambles, thistles, nettles and heaven knows what else were rampant.

But the thistles can be quite stunning in their own right, both when in full flower (much loved by bees) and as the flowers turn to cotton wool.

Mid-July
Late July

We have talked with the town council about the possibility of planting a hedgerow along this eastern border, but the work involved in clearance and preparation would be significant, and considerable maintenance would be needed while the new planting became established, so this has to be a longer term project.

One nice story involving an elderly gentleman who was working his way along the pieces of exercise equipment. Apparently, following a hip replacement, he was delighted to discover that each item seemed to have been designed specifically to meet his exercise needs. It is disappointing that this free facility doesn’t get more use.

OBELISK

This started off well with the annual display of forget me nots at the base of the obelisk, which gets better with each passing year.

Mid April

From there on, it went downhill! Without our regular work parties, the beds on either side of the pathway rapidly became overgrown, with some very heavy duty weeds becoming entrenched.

WARNING:
The following pictures are not suitable for those of a nervous disposition.

You may recall from our last newsletter, that together with the town council, we won an award for our work at the obelisk. Hope they don’t want it back!

Nevertheless, things have been going on: FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) have adopted the little stream that runs down the hill to the side of the obelisk and have kept the narrow bed clear of weeds, rubble and rubbish.

Also, in recent weeks, we have had good support from the Community Payback Team in working to clear the beds on either side of the pathway (see previous page). The CPT supervisors themselves took pity on us and spent a couple of days working on the site and, since then, actual CPT teams have been doing maintenance work.

So it’s starting to look a whole lot better again. The CPT are planning a couple more sessions during October and, weather (and circumstances) permitting, St James’s Place will also have some volunteers there towards the end of the month. This should give us a good launch point for the spring when, hopefully, we can start badgering you all again to come and help us.

COMMUNICATION

We have a new website (you’re on it!)

www.aqiva.co.uk

This is still very much work in progress, but, amongst other things, it has all of our newsletters which, particularly for our newer readers, will give you a good sense of who we are, what we do and of the considerable achievements of the past 6 or 7 years.

Our monthly meetings are suspended until further notice, but if you would like any more detail, please contact our secretary, Alison, at aqivasec@gmail.com. Thank you all for your continued interest and support

For more news, follow us on social media:

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.