Saturday, 22 January 2022

Veni Vidi Vici - A Day in Corinium


 On Friday we returned to one of our favourite places, beautiful Cirencester, just over an hour's drive from home. Known as the Capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester is the largest town in the area but as most visitors head for nearby Cheltenham, it hasn't been trampled by tourists and remains at heart, a traditional market town.

Named Corinium by the Romans, Cirencester was once one of the most important places in Roman Britain, second only to London.


There's more Roman history to come but in the meantime feast your eyes on the town's gorgeous honey-coloured limestone houses (known as Cotswold stone) flanking the tangle of narrow cobbled streets, many dating back to the Tudor period when the merchants of Cirencester grew wealthy from the wool trade.





This is pretty much my dream home, a Georgian double-fronted townhouse a couple of minutes' walk away from the shops, pubs and the hustle and bustle of the market square.



How amazing are the tiles on this Victorian butchers shop? 



In the years BC (before Covid) we visited Cirencester fairly regularly, trawling the charity shops and swooning over the town's incredible architecture. This time our mission was to visit the Corinium Museum to feast our eyes on their huge collection of Roman finds. Jon had never been and I'd last visited on a trip with my school's O Level Latin class back in 1981.


Unsurprisingly, the museum had been revamped since I'd last visited 41 years ago with fresh treasure, interactive exhibits and state of the art lighting. It still blows my mind that these pieces are almost 2000 years old. (Roman Britain existed between AD43 and AD410.) I had to suppress a wry laugh when I read about the fall of the Roman Empire "Rocked by a half-century of internal chaos. This was accompanied by devastating epidemics, runaway inflation and invasions by Northern Barbarians", BoJo needs to watch his step!


This Romano-British tombstone from the 2nd century AD reads: To the shades of the dead. Bodicacia, spouse, lived 27 years. Hooray for learning Latin!


The Corinium Museum is best known for its wealth of mosaics unearthed from the remains of Roman villas in and around the town. The hare mosaic (below) was discovered beneath a Cirencester allotment in 1971 and we couldn't have timed our trip better, Amy, the museum volunteer on duty when we visited was the person who discovered it and, over half a century later, still can't quite believe her luck.



These plaster wall friezes were also discovered locally. 




If Roman history is too recent for you, there are some incredible Iron Age (750BC - 43AD) exhibits including the female remains from a beaker burial, jewellery, pottery shards and a dog skeleton, all found locally.


The exhibits in the Saxon section (410AD -1066AD) are equally fascinating. Below are some of the treasures found in the grave of Mrs Getty, so-called because to have been buried with such treasure must have made her extremely wealthy. 



There isn't a Spoons in Cirencester so we opted for lunch at The Crown. I had wild mushrooms in a garlic sauce served on focaccia bread and Jon came over all Roman and opted for a Caesar salad. We shared cheesy chips, I had a pint of lager but, as Lord Jon was driving, it was a lager shandy for him.



We had a whizz around the chazzas which were refreshingly free of Primark tat. The prices were a lot higher than those in the Black Country but we managed to find a bit of stock for the shop (and a hat for Jon).


In the centre of the town stands the imposing parish church of St John the Baptist, one of the largest parish churches in England. The building reflects architectural styles since the 12th century. The chancel and attached chapel represent the oldest part with the nave having been rebuilt twice and the tower added in the 15th century. The south porch was built by Cirencester Abbey around 1480 and only connected to the church in the 18th century.



The Abbey grounds were originally the site for an Augustinian monastery, founded in 1117 and destroyed in 1539 following Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. 


Most of the graves date to the Georgian era. Those are the first snowdrops we've seen, a sign of Spring?





We'd woken to temperatures of -7°C and although they'd crept up during the day, as sunset approached our faces were starting to feel raw so we jumped in Patrice and headed back along The Fosse Way, the two-thousand-year-old Roman road linking the Midlands to the south. Two years ago to the day we'd been riding camels across the Thar desert, three years ago we'd been assaulted by monkeys in a remote temple in Rajasthan and four years ago, we'd been bird watching in the Great Rann of Kutch, in Gujarat. The pandemic may have curtailed our long-haul adventures but we're still travelling, exploring and seeing new things - and loving every minute.



See you soon!

PS For non-Latin scholars, my blog title Veni Vidi Vici is Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered and attributed to Julius Caesar. 

71 comments:

  1. What a lovely place to choose for a day out - I haven't been to Cirencester since my early twenties when I still lived in Wiltshire. Good choice of pub for your lunch, the mushrooms sound yummy. X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Cotswolds aren't too far from lovely Wiltshire, are they? My favourite part of the UK, I love it round there.
      Those mushrooms were absolutely gorgeous! xxx

      Delete
  2. Beautiful post Vix
    I am about an hour away from Cirencester too, but in the other direction , Bristol
    Your posts must take an age to curate these posts- gorgeous to read and enjoy
    Thank you
    Siobhan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Siobhan. I love Bristol, we traded there a lot when we were doing the vintage fairs. Cirencester is lovely, so many indie shops and places to eat and drink. I spotted a gorgeous 18th Century terraced house in the estate agent's window but it was £1.5million!
      I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I do geta bit carried away with my camera on ourdays out, it takes an age to decide which photos to use.
      Take care. xxx

      Delete
  3. I live 20 minutes from Cirencester in Wiltshire and it's where a group of us meet every month to raid the rather upmarket charity shops and have a mooch around the other shops. Love the place and your photos show areas I have never seen - going to have an explore, I think!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Julia! You are lucky living so close to Cirencester. The charity shops are very upmarket, it's such a refreshing change to see posh labels.
      For such a small town there's loads to see and do. The museum was one of the best I've ever visited. xxx

      Delete
  4. I do love the glow of Cotswold Stone, and I definitely love the look of your dream house. How gorgeous are those Victorian tiles!
    The Corinium Museums seems well worth a visit, and yes, it does all sound rather familiar, and wouldn't like to be in BoJo's shoes. I could have looked at those mosaics for hours, marvelling at the fact that they survived for such a long time and, in case of the hare, being buried underneath an allotment!
    Your lunch at The Crown looks absolutely delicious. I've never had cheesy chips, but would rather like to try them. But oh my, -7°C! My eyes are watering and I'm shivering just at the thought of it.
    I'm glad to read you're enjoying every minute of being out and about. It seems like Jos and I need to get our acts together! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the glow of that stone, I squeal Cotswold Stone as soon as I spot any from the car (it doesn't take a lot to make me happy!)
      The musuem was incredible, I couldn't capture the beauty of those mosaics. It blows my mind that the Romans were creating things like that whilst the rest of us were painting ourselves in woad and fighting each other (and we haven't changed much 2000 years alter!)
      The cheesy chips are on us next time you and Jos visit.
      Your's and Jos's walks always inspire us to get out and about more, it's very tampting to battern down the hatches when it's been so cold, though! xxx

      Delete
  5. Gosh, that does sound like a fabulous day out and I could have spent all of it just in the museum. I have a dim, distant memory of visiting the Ampitheatre when I was a child but I don't think we went into the town. Definitely one to add to the ever-increasing "travel list".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The museum was one of the best we've ever visited, I could have spent all day in there pouring over the artifacts. Rosemary has also mentioned the amphitheatre, we definitely need a return trip to see it! xxx

      Delete
  6. What a fabulous post! I love Cirencester. The last time we were there, we were swimming in the town's outdoor pool (obviously not in January). Caleb was quite small. We will have to revisit and head to that museum. Fascinating. I'm still reeling from that farmer discovering a mosaic in one of his fields in Rutland recently - did you see that item? The snowdrops are really early this year - there have been reports of them being spotted on New Year's Day! Love the old abbey grounds and I agree, a well proportioned Georgian house would be the ideal home. Just a little disappointed that you didn't bump into Kerry and Curtain! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cirencester is such a lovely place, the museum is fantastic. To be able to chat to the person who unearthed that moasaic was a real highlight. We saw the recent moasic discovery on the Alice Robert's Digging for Britain series we binge watched last week, I'd love to see that in real life!
      I hoped we might see Kerry, Curtian, Gerald and Calbel but it wasn't to be! xxx

      Delete
  7. Again, a fun tag along visit with you. We've got a few museums that have found native cultural relics and it's fascinating to think how life was where I live thousands of years ago. We will have an outing soon but I've got some local exploring to do as a friend is having fun funding then and now photos for exploring the now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a fabulous idea for a blog post, Sam! I'd love to see the artifacts uncovered in your part of the world! xxx

      Delete
  8. I always amazing to me that there is so much history in Britain. Does it go backwards forever?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I can see why you would want to go back to this area over and over again. The architecture is fabulous. The color of the stone is beautiful. I love sandstone. What a great way to spend the day! Ranee (MN) USA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's such a beautiful place with a lovely welcoming vibe, Ranee! xxx

      Delete
  10. Hi Vix, as you love the Cotswolds and are a keen gardener, have you ever seen the amazing snowdrops at Colesbourne Park? It's near Cirencester and opens for 5 weekends starting next Sat. There is a website if you'd like to know more. I think you'd enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for telling me about Colesbourne Park, Pam! I've just looked it up and we've scribbled it down on the calendar - it looks absolutely wonderful! xxx

      Delete
  11. yesss - theres adventure and interesting things everywhere - even at our doorsteps. one only needs an open mind....
    picturesque town and gorgeous museum - i do love history and archeology. the roman mosaics are very beautiful indeed! its so interesting the romans made it to britannia - but never ventured further east - to much babarians here i guess ;-D
    you and lord jon look fab in your cool clothes!
    our snow was tame - but sorry: snowdrops are winter flowers - no sign of spring.
    xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, we're often so keen to fly off around the world that we miss what's right on our doorsteps.
      Cirencester's a gorgeous town, beautiful, authentic and friendly. It's hard to get your heade round the skill of those mosaic makers, still breathtaking two thousand years later!
      I always think of snowdrops as the harbingers of Spring, I'm the eternal optimist! xxx

      Delete
  12. I am pleased that you enjoyed being in my local town which I love too. May I suggest that next time you visit you make time to view the tallest Yew hedge in the world which sits behind the walls to the Bathhurst Estate - a walk in the estates beautiful park is also a joy on a lovely warm day. What remains of the Roman amphitheatre is worth viewing. Unfortunately the inhabitants used all of the stone to build some of the town but the shape of it, now sculptured in grass, remains.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Rosemary! You are so lucky living in such a glorious part of the world. Thank you so much for the tips regarding the yew hedge, Bathhurst Estate and the amphitheatre - we shall definitely check all three out when we go back in the Spring. xxx

      Delete
  13. I've seen it on many signs but never visited Cirencester! That museum looks fantastic. So intriguing and I adore Mosaics. If you want a British holiday, I recommend Northumberland as there's some great museums and castles and properties to visit. Vindolanda is a super Roman site.
    Really enjoyed your writing about your visit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must visit Cirencester, Kezzie! You'd love it. Funnily enough, we were admiring Northumberland when it was on the Antiques Road Trip recently, neither of us have ever been and it looks stunning! xxx

      Delete
  14. B.C (Before Covid) made me giggle.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

    ReplyDelete
  15. How lucky to find that beautiful tile whilst digging an allotment! the waiting list for my plot seems even more worthwile now as who knows what treasure could lie below - you never know! Cirencester looks well worth a visit (surprised there isn't a Spoons though). You have reminded me how much I like going to museums - must do some this year myself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't it be exciting if you found Roman ruins beneath your new allotment? What a brilliant incentive to get digging - when your hand's healed!!
      Can you believe there's a town in the UK without a Spoons? xxx

      Delete
  16. My god. Those buildings and scenery - like stepping back in time. Gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's even more gorgeous in real life - honest! xxx

      Delete
  17. It is such a pretty place. I used to love going to York until it became the Teessiders favourite place to hop on the train and get bladdered and have fights in the street. I love Lincoln we were meant to go there when we were over here but I got covid damn.
    I love Kyoto but they are trying to destroy the old town . Which people are actually managing to stop! Isolation is pants but we are at home so manic cleaning and organising !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hah! That sounds like my visits to York back in the 80s, I knew the pubs and Fibbers like the back of my hand and never once went to the Yorvic museum, what a pleb!!
      We've never been to Lincoln, it looks fab when it's on the TV. xxx

      Delete
  18. There is some beautiful architecture there, and I love the work that used to go into tiling old butchers shops, no doubt ready for a sweep and then wash down each night back in the day.
    I remember going to the butchers with my Mum and using my foot to make little mounds out of the sawdust on the floor while she was being served ... and if I was good being given a chicken foot to take home to play with. Gosh if someone passed me a chicken foot now I would run a mile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's fab to visit somewhere so unspoilt! There's an amazing tile museum we visited in Ironbridge a couple of years ago and it's full of those old shop fronts, public toilets and bars rescued from around the country.
      I remember the sawdust floors in butchers and screaming the place down as a toddler when I realised where meat came from - I never ate it again. Fancy being given a chicken foot to play with, that did make me giggle! xxx

      Delete
    2. It wouldn't make me giggle these days, the idea was you pulled the tendon and the foot closed up. I used to play cranes with them until my Mum threw them away .... yuk!!

      Delete
  19. I am always so in awe of the fact that you have so much ancient history within a couple of hours drive from you. That is one of the things I loved about visiting the UK - you were surrounded by ancient history mixed in with the new. The tiles and mosaics are incredible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Midlands is brilliant - we moan about it but there's so much to see and do on our doorstep. xxx

      Delete
  20. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Huge history fan here. I've watched all of the Time Team episodes during Covid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tamera!! It's so lovely to hear from you. Time Team was a fantastic series, I loved it, too. xxx

      Delete
  21. Cirencester falls only behind York on my list of dream destinations in Britain, and that was before glimpsing the treasures you've photographed in the museum. It was the site of a Time Team episode decades ago, which is why I know how to prounounce it.
    And yes, I do envy your learning Latin in a classroom. The online courses are akin to "reading" math. I also envy your lunch of wild mushrooms in a garlic sauce over focaccia bread. It's bitter cold today and anything hot in a garlic sauce sounds life-giving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I nearly added a note to explain to non-Brits how to pronounce Cirencester, it's a strange looking word if you're not used to it.
      The Cotswolds is a glorious part of England. If you didn't know the area from Time Team, you might know it from Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee (one of the all-time English classics). I had many a good weekend in York back in my 20s - all a bit hazy now!
      People used to scoff and say Latin was a dead language but it's surprisingly useful! xxx

      Delete
  22. It looks lovely. We went to Cheltenhham last summer and took a walking trip. I loved it. The oandmeic has certainly made us appreciate our country.
    I have just booked a week in the South Downs in June - somewhere we would never normally have visited.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many years ago my head office was in Cheltenham and I'd have to pop down for management meetings once a month, it's a gorgeous place!
      I have to admit that I had to Google to remind myself where the South Downs are, I've never visited either! xxx

      Delete
  23. What an interesting town. I've driven past on the way to Devon and might try and stop next time I'm going to visit Hilary. The museum looked brilliant and well done, Amy! The hare mosaic is so beautiful; I love hares and it's mind boggling to think how old this mosaic is but hares still look the same in 2022!

    I was intrigued by the chazza finds especially the 'Veronica'label and a label with hares on it! What were they? Sorry, I'm a nosy cow I know!!

    Let's hope it warms up soon - I haven't seen any snowdrops yet...
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Vronni! Cirencester's well worth a detour next time you're passing if only to look at all the posh labels in the cahrity shops! The hare has been the symbol of Cirencester since Roman times, there's loads of statues around the town and they have (or did before Covid) a hare festival every year. The waistcoats were originally from a gents outfitter in the town hence the label.
      Veronica was the younger branch of the 1960s & 1970s boutique label "Rembrandt", the label's attached to the black & red cotton midi dress with the chain belt! You're not nosy - or if you are then I am, too!
      No snowdrops around here either, we're hoping to go back down to The Cotswolds in the next couple of weeks to see theirs. xxx

      Delete
  24. Another lovely blog Vix, the little black bird at the end made me smile. We have blackbirds here in Australia as early settlers (some say invaders) missed their song so they imported them. This morning I watched a pair bathe in our bird bath in preparation for another 40 degree day. Looks like a really beautiful town and one I will pop on to our growing list of "Next time we are in the UK". xx L.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the story of the blackbirds, Lynette! I have a real soft spot for them, they are such cheeky birds and their song is a joy to listen to.
      A 40 degree day! It's not got above 3°C here, send me some of your heat or, even better, come over in person and I'll show you around Cirencester! xxx

      Delete
  25. I think we would love Cirencester, so I shall see if I can find a deal for there I think. Wondered if you've been to Chedworth Roman Villa? Arilx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You would love Cirencester, we do! I haven't been to Chedworth - it is marked in the guidebook, though! xxx

      Delete
  26. .... pressed publish too soon - in a Salvation Army chazzer which I just had to take home because I am nothing but sentimental about such things. OOh and here's a lovely link about folklore and rabbits and hare you might like https://www.terriwindling.com/blog/2020/04/folklore-rabbits-hares.html

    Stay warm folks xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brrrr! Isn't it cccccold?! I loved that link, thanks Elaine. Stunning images, too! xxx

      Delete
    2. I did write another comment that has obviously disappeared as a consequence of the wonky trackpad on my laptop which went batshit crazy yesterday lol The thing I brought home from the Salvation Army chazzer was a public school uniform frock coat from 1937 (copious details on the inner pocket label) - of no practical use - but I couldn't leave it!

      Delete
    3. I wondered where the rest of your comment went - I double checked my junk folder but it wasn't to be! How fabulous finding that coat, I'd have had to get it as well (and hope the previous owner didn't grow up to be a Tory!) xxx

      Delete
  27. I thought you'd be ending the post telling us you'd uncovered a Roman hoard. Well, you did find some very nice stuff in the charity shops.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jon and I often have that conversation! I know we have to by law, but I'd have trouble surrendering my finds to the nation if I ever dug anything up! xxx

      Delete
  28. I love the stunning architecture in our old market towns. We plan to car camp up and down the country this year so will be visiting quite a few of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of you and Tony when we parked the car, the car park is walled and tree-lined and free between the hours of 6om and 8pm and just a few minutes walk away from the town centre. It would suit your needs perfectly! xxx

      Delete
  29. I enjoyed following you on your 'Veni vidi vici excursion in Corinium. You look wonderful photographs. I love visiting Roman ruins and remains. Isn't it fascinating how they are still preserved in so many countries. It's something than even unites us, perhaps. The ancient Romans were master builders for sure- and skilled artists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ivana! It's hgard to get your head round things that are two thousand years old and still so beautiful, isn't it? xxx

      Delete
  30. The History so Rich and Preserved, I miss that about Europe. Here in the U.S. they tear everything down and put up crap buildings to replace their Historic ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I gte so cross with things being torn down in the nsame of progress. Walsall's lost so much in the last twenty-odd years to give way to breeze block shopping centres nobody wants to visit. xxx

      Delete
  31. Oh, I missed this post! What a gorgeous town that is - I love that honey stone and the architecture! The museum is amazing - how cool to meet the person who found the hare tiles!

    Your lunch looks so yummy. I am a major fan of mushrooms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cirencester's definitely worth a visit if you ever come back to the UK! xxx

      Delete
  32. This is one of the loveliest places to visit ever, dear Vix, totally convinced me to go there by myself as soon as possible (probably it's going to take us ages to go back to Uk, but keep my fingers crossed!). Lovely architecture, lots of interesting details, the always delightful market town atmosphere and an amazing museum!, totally my kind of place!.
    I love particularly the ancient jewellery, it looks so modern, and it's always moving to see the quotidian life objects. Love it!
    besos

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is fabulous, Monica! Its got such an authentic feel, not at all touristy! The museum is one of the best we've ever visited, I could have spent all day in there! xxx

      Delete
  33. Thank you for the tour of Cirencester Vix! Looks fascinating. I have never visited, though I did write a cumbersome essay on Boudicca & the Iceni versus the Romans for A Level Ancient History :0 xXx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet your A Level Ancient History was more fun than my A Level Classical Studies, as dry as dust! xxx

      Delete
  34. I loved it when I visited Cirencester a few years ago now, though I'm fairly sure it was there where we went in a charity shop and the woman running ti was so obnoxious I very childishly flicked V's at it when we drove past it on our way home later!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No!!! The charity shop ladies (and a man) were all absolutely lovely. they even gave shoppers without bags free ones without them having to ask, it wouldn't happen around here! xxx

      Delete

Thank you for leaving a message. There may be a delay before your comment is published, I'm moderating the comments to keep the crazies & spammers at bay.

Lots of love, Vix