"Scratch the surface of Gloucestershire and you will find ancient Rome". Such is the claim of local historians and archaeologists and from the wealth of research carried out in the county it seems they may well be right.
Roman Gloucester itself began life as a vexillation fortress at Kingsholm and then moved to a legionary fortress on what is now the city centre. Land around was granted to retired Roman soldiers and the Roman Colonia town of Glevum developed. Nearby Cirencester (Corinium) was one of Britain's largest Roman towns. These were only the high points of the Roman presence in the county for it is also well endowed with villa-farms, rural settlements, and with agricultural and industrial sites.
Kingsholm later became the site of a Saxon royal palace (Kynge’s Holme) used during the reign of Edward the Confessor as a meeting place for the Great Council, a custom continued in Gloucester by the Norman King William 1st for the same purpose; it was from here that he commanded a detailed survey of England, later to be recorded as the Domesday book.
For more comprehensive discussions of Gloucester’s history refer to the two excellent short essays, written by Nigel Spry and Phil Moss (Glos Arch members).
For people with an interest in the past (not just the Roman period, but the prehistoric, medieval and later periods as well, indeed up to the 19th century), Gloucestershire Archaeology (Glos Arch) provides a focus. Established in 1967 as the Gloucester and District Archaeological Group, it is now 160 strong, composed of amateur (independent) and full-time archaeologists and local historians. Over the years, members have helped to research and record many sites of historical interest in Gloucestershire.
However, the Group’s interests not only cover archaeology, but local history as well. A project with which members have been involved is transcribing the 19th century Tithe records held at the Gloucestershire Archives. These old documents have been used to produce accurate maps of individual parishes in the county showing all the old field names, buildings, mills etc. as they were in the 1840’s. Apart from being of general interest, this information is the basis of further local history research. Other activities of individual members included the surveying of old buildings by detailed drawings and photography. Much of the work undertaken by members gets published in the Society’s annual journal called Glevensis.
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