Cirencester Archaeological & Historical Society
The Society was, perhaps unusually, founded by members of the Urban District Council, led by Councillor Gordon Young. In 1955 the postwar redevelopment of Cirencester was beginning to stir. It was known that Cirencester was rich in archaeology, as something was unearthed almost whenever a hole was dug. There were at that time no legal requirements to search for, save or document archaeology.
Councillor Gordon Young
Councillor Young floated the idea of a society to monitor developments at a Rotary meeting, and considerable interest was raised. Within a few months the Society was formed and started visiting various excavations. A 1980 Newsletter article describes these beginnings.
So much work was needed that a separate organisation was formed of interested people and professionals, which became the Cirencester Excavation Committee. The Committee’s annual activities were summarised in the Society’s Newsletter, which started in 1958.
The Cirencester Excavation Committee eventually became Cotswold Archaeology, now one of the leading archaeology companies in the country, which spreads its interests far and wide.
Like most local societies we hold a series of talks every year. They are now reported on our website Cirenhistory.org.uk, as well as in the local press. The Newsletter includes submitted articles. We also published longer articles in the Miscellany series, which ran for several years.
Over the years the society has run numerous projects, many described on our website. One of the longest running was to do with turnpikes and milestones. Reports appeared for many years of members’ activities on the various roads radiating from Cirencester. We are hoping to gather all this together in one place. It will be no surprise that a founder member of the Milestone Society is a recent Chairman of our Society.
As with many other societies, we have a project on the memorials to the dead of the First World War. An exhibition was mounted for a month in 2014 in the Corinium Museum, supported by a Heritage Lottery grant, which also funded related activity by Arts groups in the town.
Cirencester has two major memorials to the dead, one on the Parish Church wall, and the other on the walls of the Memorial Hospital. The names do not agree! You can read the story as we know it so far on our website. This lists all the names and what we know so far about the dead, in some cases, nothing, and in others a great deal, much culled from the newspapers of the time. The Memorial Hospital has a history of its own, see Newsletter 48.
Last year we joined with other local organisations to celebrate 900 years since the founding of Cirencester Abbey, giving talks and helping the public to build a Lego model of the Abbey. Our Newsletter contains articles about the Abbey on many occasions over the years, starting with issue no.2.
The Lego team
This year we are hosting the annual Summer Meeting of the Gloucestershire Local History Association on Saturday June 23rd. Members of the public welcome. Details and booking form are on our website. Spaces are limited, so book early. www.cirenhistory.org.uk