STUDY DAY AT CHEDWORTH ROMAN VILLA  

                                           Saturday, 17th September, 2016

A new initiative – Twenty six participants, eager but slightly apprehensive, took part in the above event, arranged in jointly with North Cotswold NT Association.
Bob Hann, chairman of North Cotswold Association who organised this joint event, welcomed us. Sarah Merriman, NT Site Operations Manager, briefed us on the day’s format. 
Our first lecture/presentation was given by Dr. Martin Papworth, lead NT Archaeologist of the current research programme, who demonstrated the importance of this historical site in relationship to Roman Britain during the 2nd - 4th centuries, especially as the nearby town of Cirencester was second only to London. Also, the current research programme had now left the team with even more questions to answer, which would ideally require an expensive LIDAR survey which can see through tree cover and reveal archaeological features below in the area surrounding the villa site  So, onwards with further fund raising!
Dr. Nick Humphris, a volunteer at Chedworth, then gave a presentation on the History of Mosaics and the wonderful mosaics discovered on this site. He explained the meanings, use and significance of the designs, the quality of which equaled any of those found in the 4th century Roman Empire. (We are so fortunate to have them on our own doorstep!)
The last morning session was by Nancy Grace, another NT archaeologist and responsible for the Chedworth collection, who showed us many of the artifacts found on the site, including tesserae, coins and jewellery, many of which we were allowed to handle.
After lunch we had a guided tour of the site, by volunteer Priscilla Berris or Nick Humphris, discussing and pointing out in more practical details the relevance to our morning sessions. [Togas and bathing robes were not required on this occasion!]
This was followed by tea and yummy cakes, which was a perfect ending to an excellent day, full of substantial, interesting information and a day to be remembered. Bill Cronin, the Chairman of Cheltenham & Gloucestershire NT Centre gave a vote of thanks to Sarah Merriman and to all the NT staff and Volunteers involved. 

              
We thank Bob Hann for organising the day and the NT Chedworth team for their generous input, availability to answer questions and their hospitality. 
Following the success of the first study day ideas are being developed for another joint initiative next year. The first one did produce a surplus on the day shared between the two voluntary groups which was a welcome result after all the planning to make it a success.
Original report by Trish Ashley, a member of North Cotswold Association (updated by Bill Cronin for this newsletter. He accepts full responsibility for omissions or errors in this amended report!) 

         CHEDWORTH ROMAN VILLA (NT) NEWS - January 2016

Chedworth Roman Villa update –  We’re often asked at Chedworth what we do over the months the site is closed.  For some of our front-line team, it is a chance for a well-earned rest, but for many of us it’s the busiest time of the year. Following the third phase of our North Range archaeological dig in August, finds have been sent to a number of specialist labs across the country.  Dating, chemical analysis and expert cleaning all help build the picture of everyday Roman life at Chedworth, and we’ll be able to share more with our visitors when we get the results. Our archaeologists write a fantastic blog, so do take a look to find out the latest thinking as the clues come together:                                        https://archaeologynationaltrustsw.wordpress.com/

A less muddy form of research has started, with a dedicated team of volunteers cataloguing documents and images from the Chedworth archive.  Including dig reports and letters covering the last 100 years, the most crucial items will be scanned and saved, hugely increasing our ability to share Chedworth’s more recent history. Onsite, the conservation team have put frost protection on more fragile areas such as the stone block pilae – stands for the hypocaust system in one of the more luxurious heated rooms on the North Range.  We spent around £11,000 on wall cappings and repairs in 2015, and the specialist stonemason will return in 2016 to continue to train our team and protect more of the most vulnerable walls.  Mosaic cleaning continues apace with UV lights treating the more awkward patches of algae growth.  It has been amazing to see the difference the treatment techniques developed with University College London can make.  We’ll be recruiting for more volunteer conservation assistants in the next few months to help us continue the painstaking work of cleaning these wonderful floors, tesserae by tesserae, and help them last for another 1600 years. We had challenges with our water supply in 2015, so we’ve been working with our contractors to resolve this for 2016.  As Chedworth draws on the historic spring, the rain has been a welcome topping up of the natural reserve, and   Our learning team have been busy updating the schools programme, and visiting schools with our outreach package – learning doesn’t stop when we’re closed!  
Painting, path repair, cleaning, clearing, recruitment and training keep the team busy on our countdown to opening.  2016 is a very welcome year. We open from 13 February for half term with children’s activities every day.  Mother’s Day weekend will see Roman make-up demonstrations and the chance to find out more about some of Rome’s most awesome women, from riot-inciter Fulvia to great orator Hortensia.  Later in the year we celebrate the Festival of Archaeology with special talks and demonstrations, and welcome back gladiators to share the more violent side of Roman life.  Watch out for updates on our website, Facebook and Twitter. 

                          Sarah Merriman, Operations Manager Chedworth Roman Villa,

                           Yanworth, Cheltenham, Glos GL54 3LJ     Tel: 01242 890256   

                                         Email: chedworth@nationaltrust.org.uk                       


                                                     

                                                     Figure 1 Student from UCl cleaning 'winter' in the triclinium

During the summer we had our archaeological dig. Taking place over two weeks, this dig is part of a five year research programme which aims to gain a complete understanding of the North Range of the Roman villa. To see what was discovered this year click on the link below and read the archaeologists’ blog.


                                                          https://archaeologynationaltrustsw.wordpress.com/

                           

                                                      Figure 2. Cleaning finds from the 2015 archaeological dig


                                                  Hazel Barry-Scott, Visitor Services Co-ordinator                                

                                              Chedworth Roman Villa, Yanworth, Cheltenham, Glos GL54 3LJ      

                                                    Tel: 01242 890256    Email: chedworth@nationaltrust.org.uk                                

                                                           Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chedworth

 







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