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'Foreword', Ancient and Historical Monuments in the County of Gloucester: Iron Age and Romano-British Monuments in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds (1976), pp. XIII-XIV. URL: Date accessed: 19 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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By the Chairman, the Rt. Hon. the Lord Adeane, P.C., G.C.B., G.C.V.O.

The responsibility of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments to record ancient Monuments which are threatened with obliteration by present-day development has prompted the compilation of this Inventory of Iron Age and Romano-British Monuments in the Cotswold area of Gloucestershire.

For convenience of reference we have continued our usual practice of arranging the Inventory under the names of the modern parishes in which the Monuments lie, even though these divisions are irrelevant to the subjects discussed. Our acceptance, for similar reasons, of the county boundary to delimit the area included in the volume results in the omission of the most south-westerly Cotswold parishes, which are in Somerset. Our investigators' notes on these parishes are lodged in the Field Monuments Section of the National Monuments Record and are open for consultation by interested students. Apart from this, the use of the county boundary entails no serious truncation of the Cotswold area, the bounds of which are largely a matter of choice. The Jurassic ridge of which the Cotswolds are part extends across England, from Lincolnshire to Dorset.

The use of the county boundary enables us to include in the volume some small but important areas not on the wolds limestone, notably the parishes of Fairford, Kempsford and Lechlade, where abundant traces of Iron Age and Romano-British occupation occur on the river-gravels of the upper Thames.

The Inventory does not include Bronze Age and earlier Monuments since these consist predominantly of burial mounds, already extensively catalogued by H. E. O'Neil and L. V. Grinsell (Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, vol. 79 (1960), part i). Roman Cirencester is discussed only summarily because a long-term programme of excavation and study by the Cirencester Excavation Committee is still in progress.

While air photographs were being examined for the purposes of the Inventory a large number of ringditches were discovered, most of them probably of the Bronze Age; these have been described elsewhere (I. F. Smith in Archaeology and the Landscape (ed. P. J. Fowler, 1972), chapter vi), but a brief note will be found on page lv. The discovery of several mediaeval earthworks has been another by-product of our investigators' work, and notes on these have been passed to the Deserted Mediaeval Villages Research Group. So-called 'pillow-mounds', mediaeval and later, occur in large numbers in the area and a brief note on them appears in the Inventory (s.v. Minchinhampton, where they are used to indicate the relative antiquity of other features); a further account will shortly be published elsewhere by our investigator, Mr. H. C. Bowen.

Any field survey subject to chronological limits must, on grounds of probability, admit items which may eventually be found to lie wholly or partly outside the period envisaged. Conversely it is sometimes possible to show that items which were formerly thought to lie within the scope of a survey do not in fact do so. Among the latter are a number of so-called 'hill-forts' and 'camps' in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds which now appear to have been identified wrongly. Because absolute certainty in the question cannot always be claimed and because some of the sites require further investigation, these 'monuments' are discussed in some detail in our Sectional Preface.

All accessible Monuments described in the Inventory have been inspected by one or more of our investigators and manv of them have been the subject of prolonged study. After compilation, the drafts of the text and preliminary versions of the maps and plans have been carefully scrutinised by my fellow Commissioners. As in other inventories we have thought best in the matter of place-names to adhere to the spelling used in the latest series of Ordnance Survey maps, without prejudice as to accuracy. Notes on the archaeological significance of certain place-names will be found on page lii.

In the Inventory the parishes are dealt with alphabetically, and a list of parishes together with a general map will be found at the end of the volume. Under each parish heading, generally, Iron Age Monuments are dealt with first, then Roman, and finally 'undated' Monuments. In many parish accounts an introductory paragraph serves to draw attention to important Monuments, to mention unprovenanced finds and sites which can no longer be precisely located, and to give general information relevant to the Iron Age and Romano-British periods.

Most of our hill-fort plans are based on Ordnance Survey drawings, checked by our investigators and amended where this appeared desirable. Our plans of Roman villas are based on those made by the excavators, willingly supplied in the case of modern discoveries. Some area plans, notably of 'Chessels' in Lower Slaughter, of Roughground Farm in Lechlade and of the villa fields in Barnsley are also due to the generosity of modern archaeologists. To Samuel Lysons, whose rare talents are perpetuated in three splendid volumes, Reliquiae Britannico-Romanae, published in 1813 and 1817, the Commission's debt can hardly be exaggerated. Plans of sites revealed by crop-marks on air photographs should be regarded as carefully considered sketches rather than as measured drawings; we do not yet have facilities to make accurate transcripts from low-level oblique photographs. The sketches, however, are nearly always compiled from several photographs taken under differing conditions. Our most extensive and detailed crop-mark plan (Fairford (3–6) with part of Lechlade) was transcribed from vertical air photographs taken for us by Cambridge University Committee for Aerial Photography and is therefore accurate, though it may include modern features as well as ancient indications from outside our period. As the interpretation of crop-marks from air photographs is to some extent subjective, the volume includes reproductions of a large number of these photographs.

The compilation of so extensive a survey would be impossible without the help and sufferance of the many landowners within whose property the Monuments lie, and to them, too numerous for individual mention, I express the Commission's sincere thanks. The names of the directors of public institutions and those of private persons to whom we are indebted for help will be found in our Official Report, reprinted elsewhere in the volume. Special acknowledgement must, however, be made of the help and encouragement constantly afforded to our investigators by Mrs. H. E. O'Neil, and by Captain H. S. Gracie, R. N. (rtd.).

In an inventory such as this there must be some mistakes, but I believe they are neither numerous nor serious; my colleagues and I will, of course, welcome any corrections that may be proposed with a view to a future edition. Such corrections will be added to the Commission's files, which may be consulted by accredited persons on application to the Secretary. Copies of the photographs reproduced in the volume, and of many others taken while the volume was in preparation, are obtainable from the National Monuments Record.