Home / Publications / Transactions / Browse Volume

Contents for volume 135 (2017)
Royal Arms in Bristol and Gloucestershire ChurchesJohn Loosley13-32

Royal achievements of arms have been part of church furnishings since the reign of Henry VIII, but have received little attention compared with other church furnishings. In recent years several counties have published details of arms in their churches, and the author has carried out a survey over the last ten years in the churches of Bristol and Gloucestershire, including South Gloucestershire. This paper gives the results of this survey.

Images of all the known royal arms in Bristol and Gloucestershire churches are available HERE.

An Early Mesolithic Post Alignment and a Middle Bronze Age Cemetery at Roman Way, Bourton-on-the-Water: Excavations in 2015Mark Brett and Jonathan Hart33-44

Excavation on the clays between the Rivers Windrush and Eye/Dikler at Bourton-on-the-Water revealed an alignment of Early Mesolithic postholes dateable to the 9th millennium BC. These were located on a gravel spread forming something of an island above the underlying clay. Mesolithic post alignments are scarce, and the only known example of comparably early date was found at Stonehenge car park in Wiltshire. Some seven millennia later, the gravel island was the setting of a Middle Bronze Age cemetery. This included the inhumations of two adult women and the cremated remains of a further eight unsexed adults and two children. Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian analysis demonstrated that the inhumation and cremation rites were contemporary, and the remains seem to be those of a flat cemetery. There were no associated vessels, although an unusual lead ring appears to have been a hair ornament for the older of the women. A largely open area on the gravel may have been the setting for ceremonies associated with the burials and subsequent commemorations. The excavation also demonstrated that ditches or banks associated with Salmonsbury Camp Late Iron Age fort did not survive within the site.

Archaeological Investigations in Connection with Construction of the A417 Brockworth Bypass, 1990–4Paul Nichols45-62

The results of a series of archaeological evaluations, excavations and watching briefs undertaken during 1990–4 in connection with the construction of the A417 Brockworth Bypass are published here for the first time. The publication of this work complements the published results from earlier archaeological excavations undertaken at the Hucclecote villa, and also during the construction of the A417/A419 Gloucester–Swindon trunk route in the 1990s. The post-excavation work has been funded by the Highways Agency.

The construction of the new road was preceded by extensive evaluation and then several small archaeological excavations, which were concentrated in the vicinity of the Hucclecote villa. These investigated the locations of service pipe diversions and a new slip road to the M5 motorway. A watching brief was then maintained during topsoil stripping along the new road corridor, and this work was extended to include the recording of accidental damage to the nearby Badgeworth round barrow. The archaeological work resulted in the recording of complex enclosure systems around the Hucclecote villa and in the identification of a large barn-like structure and stone-built drying oven.

A Romano-British Agricultural Enclosure near Brinsham Bridge, Yate: Excavations in 2014Neil Holbrook, Jonathan Orellana and E.R. McSloy63-86

Excavation revealed a rectilinear ditched enclosure. A Middle Iron Age brooch and pottery vessel testify to activity in the vicinity at this time, but the enclosure dates from around the time of the Roman Conquest. There were few internal features. The artefacts recovered from the enclosure include some unusual elements. Imported Neronian–early Flavian samian ware and Terra Rubra fineware are unusual finds from lower-status rural enclosures, as are some items of metalwork. They indicate trading links with higher-status sites in the 1st century AD. By the later 3rd century the enclosure ditches had become largely silted up, but occupation continued until the later 4th century at least. Traces of one ephemeral late Roman building were found, along with a single inhumation of a child.

The Well’s Bridge Roman Ash-Chest and Cremation CylinderPeter Ellis, Martin Henig and Kevin Hayward87-96

Excavations at Well’s Bridge near Gloucester in 1998 were published in these Transactions last year. The principal finding of the ash-chest (named there a ‘sarcophagus’) and lead cremation cylinder was not fully reported because of the failure to securely identify the ash-chest in Gloucester Museum until the text was far advanced in the publication process. This report completes the excavation account with a discussion of the ash-chest and its petrology, together with illustrations of the chest and cylinder.

Prehistoric Burials and Anglo-Saxon Settlement on Land at Home Farm, Fairford: Excavations in 2013 and 2014Luke Craddock-Bennett97-112

Headland Archaeology undertook an open-area excavation on a site to the west of Fairford between March 2013 and February 2014 in advance of the construction of a new housing estate. An isolated ‘flat grave’ Neolithic burial was excavated along with pit burials and evidence for land division dating to the Iron Age. Five Anglo-Saxon sunken-floored buildings dating to the 6th century were also identified.

Iron Age Burial and Anglo-Saxon Settlement at All Saints Academy, Cheltenham: Excavations in 2010Alan Hardy, Steven Sheldon and Jörn Schuster113-54

Excavation in advance of the redevelopment of Kingsmead School, Cheltenham, revealed three periods of occupation: a small group of Bronze Age pits, part of an Iron Age settlement, and part of an Anglo-Saxon settlement. The Iron Age evidence included a possible roundhouse, clay-lined pits and two isolated inhumations, both buried on the line of a palaeochannel that could have been used a territorial boundary. Anglo-Saxon activity consisted of a planned late 6th- to early 7thcentury settlement represented by a post-built building, at least one sunken-featured building, a boundary ditch and several pits and pit alignments. It is possible this settlement may have been a precursor to the early estate at Arle, to the east.

Iron Age Burials and Medieval Farm Buildings: Excavations at Horse and Groom Inn, Bourton-on-the-Hill, 2013Christopher Dyer, Chiz Harward and Gaynor Western155-94

Excavations in 2013 by LP Archaeology adjacent to Horse and Groom Inn, Bourton-on-the- Hill, produced evidence dating from the Mesolithic onwards. Two Middle Iron Age burials were excavated within a single pit: the skeleton of an adult male placed in a crouched position in the base of the pit was dated to 235–87 BC by AMS dating; isotope analysis indicates he spent his early childhood years outside of England, probably in Scotland or Continental Europe. Within the pit backfill were a smashed Middle Iron Age jar and a partial young infant human skeleton. The burial was immediately west of an arc of postholes, interpreted as the remains of a roundhouse, the arc truncated by a Late Iron Age enclosure ditch. Limited Roman evidence suggests the focus of a transitional Late Iron Age/Early Romano British domestic settlement lies immediately south of the excavation site. Initial post-Roman evidence was restricted to several sherds of middle Saxon pottery, with Saxo-Norman domestic occupation at the western edge of the site.

A well-preserved and extensive complex of masonry buildings was constructed in the early 13th century and are probably outbuildings of Westminster abbey’s manor, perhaps connected with the keeping of sheep. The buildings developed through three phases with courtyards to east and west. A further building may indicate there was a southern wing. The excavated buildings were systematically demolished in the late 15th century and the land restored to pasture. To the west of the excavation earthworks are identified as one of the sheepcotes held by the manor.

Medieval Backyards at Cowl Lane, Winchcombe: Excavations in 2011Alan Hardy195-212

Excavation revealed pre 12th-century tenement plot boundary ditches and a period of intense pit digging in the 12th and 13th centuries, representing backyard tenement refuse disposal. From the 14th century until the modern period the area was open and largely unoccupied, possibly reflecting the late medieval decline in the town’s fortunes. The evidence suggests that the Anglo- Saxon cemetery to the east of the site did not extend this far, and it is suggested that this boundary may have had a Roman antecedent.

Church Armorials and Firebacks: Evidence of an Early 17th-Century WoodcarverJeremy Hodgkinson213-24

Three carved achievements of the Stuart royal arms in West Country churches bear distinctive decorative features that indicate they were the work of the same woodcarver. The same features have been identified on a group of iron firebacks dated to 1618 and after, suggesting that the wooden patterns from which they were cast were the work of the same, anonymous craftsman.

Cirencester Workhouse under the Old Poor LawLouise Ryland-Epton225-36

There are few local studies which look into the operation of workhouses exclusively under the Old Poor Law. This article focuses on Cirencester Workhouse, which operated continuously for over 100 years under the Old Poor Law and embodied many of the aspirations associated with workhouses during 18th and early 19th century. This workhouse was central to the arrangement of parish relief for much of the period. The longevity appears to have made it unique within Gloucestershire and it thus offers a great opportunity to consider its importance and success as a whole and within the context of changing objectives and economic and social environment. Therefore, the commentary examines three aims embodied in the management of the workhouse over its existence, namely the use of the workhouse as a ‘deterrent’ against applications for relief, as a means of utilizing pauper labour to create a profit, and as a refuge for the impotent poor.

The study uncovers many of the problems encountered by most parishes over the period, such as soaring cost of poor rates; however it does illustrate that the Cirencester vestry were particularly successful in many respects from the perspective of their objectives. The organization of this workhouse was not the abject failure which has been characterized by many contemporary writers. However, life within the institution is unlikely to have been preferable to one supported by the parish at home, and it does therefore show that a nuanced characterization of these workhouses is required.

Henry Thomas Ellacombe (1790–1885): An Indefatigable 19th-Century Polymath and the Creation of the Bitton Vicarage GardenJan Broadway237-46

At this Society’s meeting held in Bristol in 1878, Henry Thomas Ellacombe, the former vicar of Bitton, was described as an ‘able and veteran archaeologist’, and in 1926 Roland Austin numbered him among those distinguished for their knowledge of the history and antiquities of Gloucestershire. He was also the initial creator of the plantsman’s garden at Bitton, which was to become celebrated through the publication of In a Gloucestershire Garden (1895) and In My Vicarage Garden (1902) by his son Henry Nicholson Ellacombe (1822–1916).

Important archival resources provide us with a unique record of a middle-class plantsman’s garden at the beginning of the reign of William IV and of the sources of the plants that filled it. Despite his varied extra-curricular activities, Ellacombe’s primary role was always his ministry as an Anglican vicar. This article presents a brief account of the life, interests and the garden of this 19th-century polymath and clergyman, who according to Joseph Leech was ‘one of the most indefatigable men in the world’.

William Newbolt, Vicar of Dymock 1870-7: A Tractarian Minister Encounters Hostility Early in his CareerJohn Jurica247-50

In 1870 William Charles Edmund Newbolt (1844-1930) became vicar of Dymock, a position he held until 1877. This short article examines the hostilities he faced from parishioners in response to his High Church reforms made with the encouragement of his likeminded patron, Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl Beauchamp. A principal source is Newbolt’s journal, which is preserved among the Dymock parish records in Gloucestershire Archives.

The Life and Times of Gloucester’s Chimes: A History of the Chiming Machines in Gloucester’s Cathedral and City ChurchesJonathan MacKechnie-Jarvis251-68

The history of automated tune playing on the church bells of Gloucester is a long one, the first reference dating from 1525. The present article focuses primarily on the cathedral chimes, where the tradition of chiming was revived in 2013 after a gap of some 20 years. The vanished chimes of St Michael and the long-derelict chimes of St Nicholas are also discussed.

This is the first serious attempt to draw together the available historical information about chime systems in Gloucester, and serves to correct some significant errors in printed references of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is based for the most part on original documentary evidence, including chapter acts and accounts, and latterly, architects’ reports and correspondence.

For over 200 years the musical repertoire of the Gloucester cathedral chimes comprised four tunes specially written for their unique range of nine bells, covering an octave plus a minor third below, and these enjoyed remarkable popularity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their origins are discussed as far as possible, although unresolved questions remain.

The Place-Name Cotswold and its Relatives: An AssessmeRichard Coates269-78

The place-name Cotswold has in recent years been the subject of revisionist discussion and reappraisal. In one sense its formal etymology is not difficult, though there is a phonological problem with its later history which remains unaddressed so far. More importantly, the wider implications of the etymologies proposed are not fully understood, despite the attention recently given to the name. It seems appropriate to survey the entire issue from scratch, to review a recent historical and cultural hypothesis about the name in the light of what can be deduced from the reasonably rich textual evidence of the last thousand years, and to scan the horizon for possible alternative landfall.

A Consideration of the Romano-British and English Names of GloucesterRichard Coates279-92

The current widespread belief is that the Romano-British name of the town that became Gloucester was Glevum, and more formally Colonia Nervia (or Nerviana) Glevensis. This, however, is based on some doubtful inferences, and all the available data should be reviewed afresh before either part of the belief is accepted. The accepted wisdom about the full history of the name from its origin in British Celtic through to Middle English is critically appraised, and some alternative naming-traditions are explored.

Notes and QueriesDavid J. H. Smith293-314
Archaeological ReviewJan Wills315-38

Enter volume number (1-135):