First pictures of Keynsham dig.

First pictures of Keynsham dig.

The excavation. the ashlar block wall on the left and the presumed blocking with large stones on the right.  Click on images to enlarge. © An tony Beeson

The excavation. the ashlar block wall on the left and the presumed blocking with large stones on the right.
Click on images to enlarge. © Anthony Beeson

The Virtual Museum is now able to bring you images of the archaeological dig now underway in Keynsham Cemetery on the site of a possible Roman temple.

It’s where – in the 1920’s – that mosaics from buildings making up a substantial Roman settlement were first discovered by workmen digging graves.

Known as the Durley Hill Roman Villa archaeologists revealed a building positioned around the largest court of any rural Roman structure in the country and embellished with exotically designed rooms.

The ammonite on one of the blocking stones. © Anthony Beeson

The ammonite on one of the blocking stones.
© Anthony Beeson

Members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society and the Association for Roman Archaeology have now dug a broad trench across part of the buried remains after extensive geophysical surveys indicate a building which may prove to be a detached temple fronting the great villa building.

Bristol-based Anthony Beeson – who is an acknowledged Classical iconographer and an expert on Roman and Greek architecture – has been to see the excavation and has sent the Virtual Museum of Bath this report.

The new sondage being cut to ascertain if the blocking fills an entrance way and if the wall continues on the same alignment.  © Anthony Beeson

The new sondage being cut to ascertain if the blocking fills an entrance way and if the wall continues on the same alignment.
© Anthony Beeson

The Keynsham complex is the most architecturally elaborate known from Roman Britain. It contained many fine mosaics including a central rosette of a quality unsurpassed in Roman mosaics in Britain and now in Keynsham’s One Stop Centre.
The purpose of the new excavation is to learn more about a presumed building, that has appeared on geophysical surveys of the site, that lies at the bottom of the hill, below the main complex. It may have been a temple.

The ashlar block wall built over upright foundation slabs on the left. Presumed rough blocking appears at the left.  © Anthony Beeson

The ashlar block wall built over upright foundation slabs on the left. Presumed rough blocking appears on the right.
© Anthony Beeson

The present small excavation has uncovered a substantial unmortared wall faced with ashlar blocks and resting on a foundation of smaller stones founded in the natural clay.

At the end of the ashlar wall what appears at present to be a blocking of an entrance has been discovered. Unworked, large stones were used for blocking – including one featuring a large ammonite for which Keynsham is famous.

The town itself is named after St Keyna who is said to have turned the numerous serpents in the area (ie Ammonites) into stone.

A new sounding has been started this afternoon to ascertain if the rough stones do actually form the blocking of an entrance, or something else, and if the wall continues in the same direction and is made of ashlar blocks.
A lack of roofing materials and nails at present suggests that the structure was unroofed. Some ancient temples were unroofed courtyards around a sacred pool or tree.

There have been few finds so far beyond some pottery, animal bone and mosaic tesserae. The latter (of all qualities) have almost certainly washed down from the rooms in the main complex”

Thanks for that Anthony. You can follow the dig via http://www.facebook.com/durleyhill

Come view Roman dig at Keynsham.

Come view Roman dig at Keynsham.

The public got a chance at the week-end to see for themselves the excavating work taking place in Keynsham Cemetery on the site of a possible Roman Temple.

The  mosaic floor taking shape again in the new Keynsham Library for the first time in nearly two thousand years.

The mosaic floor taking shape again in the new Keynsham Library.

It’s where – in the 1920’s – that mosaics from rooms making up a substantial Roman settlement were first discovered by workmen digging graves.

An artist's impression of the Durley Hill villa which produced the excavated mosaics.

An artist’s impression of the Durley Hill villa which produced the excavated mosaics.

Known as the Durley Hill Roman Villa  archaeologists revealed a building positioned around the largest court of any rural Roman structure in the country and embellished with exotically designed rooms.

Many of the mosaics were lifted and have now found a new home in the floor and on the walls of the new Keynsham Library.

Members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society and the Association for Roman Archaeology have now dug a broad trench across part of the buried remains after extensive geophysical surveys indicate a building which may prove to be a detached temple fronting the great villa building.

Check out http://www.facebook.com/durleyhill

Keynsham mosaics display leave ‘something to be desired’.

Keynsham mosaics display leave ‘something to be desired’.

Anthony Beeson

Anthony Beeson

A review now of the display of mosaics that have been incorporated into Keynsham’s new Civic Centre from Bristol-based Anthony Beeson who is an acknowledged Classical iconographer and an expert on Roman and Greek art and architecture.

He is also the Honorary Archivist of the Association for Roman Archaeology and this review has been published in the latest edition of the ARA News. Anthony is a member of the Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics. He is a writer and former Art Librarian at Bristol City Libraries.

 ‘Keynsham’s new civic centre entitled the One Stop Shop opened. The building combines a number of civic services, from library to police, under one roof.
Keynsham, the town that lies between Bath and Bristol, has had a raw deal so far as its antiquities and the tourism that they would have generated are concerned. Its huge and architecturally outstanding Roman complex on Durley Hill was chosen as the site of a new cemetery in the 1920s.

The new One Stop Shop and library at Keynsham Civic Centre

The new One Stop Shop and library at Keynsham Civic Centre. Click on images to enlarge.

The obvious religious complex and the accompanying town believed to be Trajectus were first partly covered by Fry’s (later Cadbury’s) chocolate factory and, since the latter’s demise and following a controversial take-over, threatened by a plan for new housing on the site.
The remains of Keynsham’s great abbey were thoroughly dealt with by the construction of the town’s bypass in the 1960s. The Roman and medieval objects discovered rivalled anything displayed in either Bath or Bristol and should have generated enough civic pride in the town to have prompted a local museum.
The splendid mosaics found at Durley Hill were lifted and for many years were displayed as unrelated panels at the small museum founded at the gateway to Fry’s factory at Somerdale. In the 1980s this was closed and the mosaics and other antiquities went into long-term storage in the basement of the town hall.

The mosaic from room W as laid out in the Parish Church as part of Keynsham's millennium celebrations. The panels were still within frames at this time, but this was the first occasion when they had been placed into position since the 1920s. Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The mosaic from room W as laid out in the Parish Church as part of Keynsham’s millennium celebrations. The panels were still within frames at this time, but
this was the first occasion when they had been placed into position since the 1920s.
Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The late Charles Browne campaigned endlessly for their permanent display somewhere in the town, and at least managed a splendid show in the Parish Church in 2000 when the author and others had the delight of displaying the Durley Hill mosaics together in their original positions for the first time since their discovery (Beeson, 2001).
The mosaics and other finds then went back into obscurity, and were later moved to a warehouse in Pixash Lane that has become an archaeological store. It was with delight therefore that one heard the news that a proposed new civic centre was going to display the mosaics and other objects. This author visited the finished building in January with great expectations.
The spectacular mosaic from room W at the Durley Hill complex, previously divided into framed panels, has now been beautifully restored and the sections joined together. It occupies a sunken area between the library and community reception desks and is glazed over.
This is a controversial but currently popular way of dealing with mosaics. Glass and its supporting steel framework generally does nothing to enhance a mosaic beneath them. If the choice is there and floor space is lacking, a wall mounting is generally to be preferred.
The mosaic from room W as now displayed at Keynsham. The panels have been beautifully joined together giving one an idea of how the floor must have originally appeared. Care has been taken to position the steel structure above the joining guilloche strips. Neon lighting reflects in the glass. Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The mosaic from room W as now displayed at Keynsham. The panels have been beautifully joined together giving one an idea of how the floor must have originally appeared. Care has been taken to position the steel structure above the joining guilloche strips. Neon lighting reflects in the glass.
Photos: © Anthony Beeson.

The steelwork at Keynsham does follow the shape of the guilloche framing of the panels in an attempt not to obscure the design too much and, on the whole, the display is better than it might have been.

Light reflection on the glass is also a problem with this type of display, and is unfortunately so at Keynsham as neon light strips have been placed on the ceiling over the floor.
Wonderful as it is to see the main pavement joined again, it is a pity that the building could not have been designed so that the mosaic could have been displayed better.
Unfortunately the remaining isolated panel with birds from the same floor is nowhere to be seen; it could have accompanied the beautiful rosette centre-piece from room J that is attached, slightly too high, to an otherwise blank staircase wall that overlooks the main pavement.
This rosette is one of the gems of mosaic work in its handling of colour and technique remaining to us from Roman Britain. An accompanying panel from this mosaic is unfortunately not

displayed with it.
Neither of the mosaics displayed has any museum labelling; there is a no-doubt expensive terminal that is supposed to inform the curious about them, but it was out of order when I visited. Someone had very kindly photocopied a leaflet about the mosaics, but the description of what was happening on the Achilles panel was muddled. One hopes that the information terminal provides a clearer description.

A view from the first floor of the One Stop Shop showing the distracting seating that has been placed overlapping the main panels of the mosaic from room W. Fortunately only two seats were occupied on this occasion. The great rosette from room J's mosaic may be seen on the staircase wall.

A view from the first floor of the One Stop Shop showing the distracting seating that has been placed overlapping the main panels of the mosaic from room W. Fortunately only two seats were occupied on this occasion. The great rosette from room J’s mosaic may be seen on the staircase wall.  Image © Anthony Beeson

What was particularly annoying with this new display, however, was the fact that someone (presumably the designer) had decided that it would be a great idea to place seating on three sides of the pavement, both blocking the central viewing area before the Europa panel and overlapping the edges of the mosaic.
Not only does one have to cope with reflected ceiling lighting and glass but also with people sitting with their legs and bags resting over the floor. No doubt this stems from some muddle-headed idea that it ‘brings the mosaic into the community’.
None of the library staff that I questioned had any idea who had made the decision to place the seating there. It is becoming depressingly commonplace in British museums, when reorganising and rebuilding such institutions, that designers’ and architects’ wishes override those of curatorial staff – when there are any.
Whilst one tried to view the glazed mosaic there appeared to be a permanent meeting of several people wearing name badges who successfully managed to obfuscate the Europa panel and made no attempt to move so that others might view it properly.
It really made this author wonder why so much money had been spent on displaying a national treasure only to allow it to be obscured so easily. I fortunately went at a quiet time, so one wonders what the experience would be if it had been busy.
The Roman window display of pottery and building materials from Keynsham sites

The Roman window display of pottery and building materials from Keynsham sites.  Image © Anthony Beeson

Windows at the One Stop Shop have been used as museum cases displaying minor stonework from the abbey and some pottery, tesserae and building materials from the Roman sites.

The cream of these collections, including a rare statue base dedicated to Silvanus, alas still remain in the store at Pixash Lane.
It is wonderful to have these mosaics finally on display, but what an opportunity to display Keynsham’s treasures properly has been missed.’
A brush with history

A brush with history

Keynsham artist Ian Cryer at his easel in Sydney Gardens.

Keynsham artist Ian Cryer at his easel in Sydney Gardens.

Cycling home through Sydney Gardens today l came across an artist hard at work on a easel he had set up on the last remaining iron railway pedestrian bridge that Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed for the Great Western line.

The oils of industry. Recording a view that is going to change very soon.

The oils of industry. Recording a view that is going to change very soon.

Ian Cryer lives in Keynsham and is a West Country artist best known for his oil paintings of landscape, railways, interiors and characters.

His website says although he doesn’t like to be restrained by labels or a rigid working method ‘British Impressionism is a cap that fits in many ways and English painters from the early 20th century – but especially the 1930’s – are very much an influence on his work.

He also teaches and writes for Art magazines but, at the moment, he’s working up and down the London to Bristol line ahead of the multi-billion electrification programme that Network Rail are starting to carry out.

The London to Bristol line passing through Sydney Gardens is the subject of this canvas painting.

The Bristol to London line passing through Sydney Gardens is the subject of this canvas painting. Click on images to enlarge.

A special dry-moat-styled ditch will be dug beside the track as it passes through this historic remnant of a Georgian pleasure garden to keep people away from the high voltage line but still allow a view of passing trains.

The iron bridge Ian had positioned his easel upon is to be lifted out and taken away for restoration before being repositioned at a slightly higher level.

Ian’s painting – looking towards the Bath tunnel – could be one of the last recorded images on canvas before the power line is carried through.

You can check him out at www.iancryer.co.uk

Some tick for my tock!

Some tick for my tock!

An imagined look for the new town clock. Artist, Sebastien Boyesen wants to make sure people understand that the design of the clock face has not been finalised yet! 'That’s going to be down to a public vote after we have looked at various choices in more detail' he said..

An imagined look for the new town clock. Artist, Sebastien Boyesen wants to make sure people understand that the design of the clock face has not been finalised yet! ‘That’s going to be down to a public vote after we have looked at various choices in more detail,’ he said..

The man chosen to come up with a design for Keynsham’s new town clock is hoping local people will come along and contribute ideas at special ‘meet the artist’ sessions this month.

The Clocktower is part of the overall £34 million regeneration investment in Keynsham and will provide a focus for the new public space in the town.

The design by winning artist, Sebastien Boyesen, who was selected following public consultation and voting in May, uses a patchwork of glass and acrylic panels to capture the history of the town both past and present.

The six-metre high Clocktower will be constructed out of a solid granite plinth with polished finish and polyurethane resin encased stained glass and supporting framework of stainless steel.

The clock faces are incorporated into the design to make it highly visible as the Clock tower is approached.

An image showing the location of the new town clock.

An image showing the location of the new town clock.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), B&NES Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Sebastien will be working with community groups including youth groups, residents groups and the Keynsham Local History Society.

He is inviting people to contribute ideas, images, memories and stories which will inform his patchwork design for the sides of the Clocktower.

“When installed, the Clocktower will form a key element of the new and improved public space with the objective of generating a sense of ‘hub’, meeting place and community focus in the new Keynsham town centre development.”

Keynsham Arts Advisory Group (AAG), which has commissioned the design, is overseeing the creation of the Clocktower. AAG members represent the local community and are working with Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Arts Development and Project Delivery teams to implement the project.

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

Keynsham Town Councillor, Lisa O’Brien, who is Chair of AAG, said: “As the Clocktower project takes another step closer to completion, we hope that as many residents as possible will get involved in these sessions, so that our Clocktower will truly reflect Keynsham past and present.”

The ‘Meet the Artist’ sessions with Sebastien Boyesen, which are open to all residents of Keynsham who can just ‘drop in’, will take place on:
· Wednesday 15 October 4pm – 7pm upstairs Key Centre, High Street, Keynsham; and

· Monday 27 October – 10am – 1pm Community@67, Queens Road, Keynsham.

Honours bouquet for Bath in Bloom Awards.

Honours bouquet for Bath in Bloom Awards.

Bath and North East Somerset has collected a bouquet of top honours in this year’s Southwest in Bloom Awards.

bath in bloom Bath won gold and was category winner in the Southwest in Bloom competition. The city also won the Sponsors Cup for the most meritorious entry and there were special 50th anniversary awards for Stan Hitt MBE and Bill Bailey, both formally of the Parks Department.

Keynsham Memorial Park won Gold and Alexandra Park won a silver gilt in the parks award and St Stephens allotments a silver gilt in the allotments category. Radstock won gold in the Champion of Champions category and Midsomer Norton won gold and was a category winner,

Other towns and villages in the area also took gold and silver gilt: Paulton and Camerton both won gold awards with Keynsham, Chew Magna and Temple Cloud all winning silver gilt.

The awards were presented at an RHS awards ceremony on Thursday 18th September at Trowbridge Civic Centre.

bath in bloomThe city also won 11 ‘outstanding’ awards from 22 entries as part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual It’s Your Neighbour awards. It’s Your Neighbourhood is a grassroots community gardening campaign helping people to make lasting improvements to their local areas.

Councillor David Dixon, (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “It has been a quite extraordinary year for Bath’s entries. The results are quite amazing and prove what incredible community groups we have in Bath.”

Barry Cruse MBE, Chairman of the Bath in Bloom Committee, said: “I am so pleased that in this special 50th anniversary year our county has done so well, with gold’s and silver gilts going to the towns and villages and high levels of achievement from the 60-plus community groups that entered the It’s Your Neighbourhood scheme.”

Outstanding (level 5) awards went to Batheaston Primary School, Bath City Farm, Alice Park community garden, Weston Trio, St Stephen’s Church, Primrose Hill community woodland, Milsom Place, Chandler Close Residents’ Association, Weston Village Gardening Club, Friends of the Royal United Hospital and the On Board community group.

In addition, five groups achieved a thriving (level 4) award: Barrow Hamlet, the Millstream Project, Friends of Alexandra Park forum, Beechen Bees and Weston All Saints Primary School.

The Jews Lane Project, Grow Snowhill, Bradford Road Gardening Club, and Dorothy House Outreach Centre all achieved a developing (level 3) awards, while Cavendish Cooks achieved an improving (level 2) award.

The RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood campaign supports community groups in cleaning up and greening up their immediate local environment – whether that’s the street they live in, or a small patch of communal land needing a revamp. Any group can join as long as it is volunteer-led and involved in hands-on community gardening.

Results for It’s Your Neighbour Awards:
1. Bath – Dorothy House Outreach Centre (Developing)
2. Bath – Friends of Alexandra Park Forum (Thriving)
3. Bath – Alice Park Community Garden (Outstanding)
4. Bath – Barrow Hamlet (Thriving)
5. Bath – Batheaston Primary School (Outstanding)
6. Bath – Beechen Bees (Thriving)
7. Bath – Bradford Road Gardening Group (Developing)
8. Bath – Cavendish Cooks (Improving)
9. Bath – Grow Snowhill (Developing)
10. Bath – Jews Lane Project (Developing)
11. Bath – Milsom Place (Outstanding)
12. Bath – Monksdale Community Plot (Thriving)
13. Bath – Primrose Hill Community Woodland (Outstanding)
14. Bath – St. Stephens Church (Outstanding)
15. Bath – Weston All Saints Primary School (Thriving)
16. Bath – Weston Trio (Outstanding)
17. Bath Chandler Close & M.B.E.Residents Association (Changler
Rangers) (Outstanding)
18. Bath City Farm (Outstanding)
19. Bath Millstream Project (Thriving)
20. Bath Weston Village Garden Club (Outstanding)
21. Bath – Friends of the Royal United Hospital (Outstanding)
22. Bath – On-Board Community Project (Outstanding)
23. Camerton – Coke Ovens Copse (Thriving)
24. Camerton – St. Peter’s Church, Camerton (Thriving)
25. Camerton Batch Local Nature Reserve (Outstanding)
26. Camerton Church Primary School (Thriving)
27. Camerton Community Hall (Thriving)
28. Camerton Court (Outstanding)
29. Keynsham – Baptist Church (Ebenezer Chapel) (Outstanding)
30. Keynsham – Castle Primary School (Improving)
31. Keynsham – Friends of Manor Road Community Woodland (Thriving)
32. Keynsham – Homeavon Community (Establishing)
33. Keynsham – Neighbour Hoodies Time Out Task Force (Improving)
34. Keynsham – Sirona Day Care Services (Establishing)
35. Keynsham – St Dunstan’s Catholic Church (Outstanding)
36. Keynsham Railway Station (Developing)
37. Keynsham Scout Group (Outstanding)
38. Keynsham Wombles (Thriving)
39. Keynsham Transition – Community Veg Plot (Thriving)
40. Midsomer Norton – St Johns Primary School (Outstanding)
41. Midsomer Norton – Silver Street Local Nature Reserve (Outstanding)
42. Midsomer Norton – The Hollies Gardens (Outstanding)
43. Midsomer Norton – Wansdyke Play Association (Outstanding)
44. Midsomer Norton Community Allotments Association (Developing)
45. Midsomer Norton Methodist Church (Thriving)
46. Midsomer Norton Primary School (Thriving)
47. Midsomer Norton Swallow Housing (Outstanding)
48. Midsomer Norton – River Somer Management Team (Outstanding)
49. Midsomer Norton – Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust (Thriving)
50. Midsomer Norton – Welton Afterschool Club Initiative (Developing)
51. Midsomer Norton – Welton Primary School (Developing)
52. Midsomer Norton – Welton Village Group (Developing)
53. Paulton – Baptist Church Garden (Improving)
54. Paulton – Cultivate With Colliver (Cultivate) (Developing)
55. Paulton – Fieldways Substation (Improving)
56. Paulton – Friends and Residents of Laurel Drive (Improving)
57. Paulton – Holy Trinity Church (Developing)
58. Paulton – The Lamb Inn (Developing)
59. Paulton – Wesley Hall Back Garden (Developing)
60. Paulton Junior School Gardening Club (Outstanding)
61. Paulton Nature Reserve (Thriving)
62. Paulton Noah’s Ark Preschool (Developing)
63. Radstock – Chapel Court Wildlife Garden (Developing)
64. Radstock – Connections Gardens (Outstanding)
65. Radstock – Haydon Heritage (Outstanding)
66. Radstock – Meadow View Residents (Outstanding)
67. Radstock – Methodist Church (Outstanding)
68. Radstock – RADCO Staff Volunteers (Thriving)
69. Radstock – St Nicholas Church Graveyard (Thriving)
70. Radstock – The Academy of Trinity (Outstanding)
71. Radstock – The Fromeway Inn (Thriving)
72. Radstock – Walnut Buildings Garden (Developing)
73. Radstock – Writhlington – St Mary’s CE School (Outstanding)
74. Radstock – Writhlington Allotments (Developing)
75. Radstock – Writhlington Community School Orchid Project (Outstanding)
76. Radstock – Clandown Orchard Project (Establishing)

New Keynsham Civic Centre to include solar power

New Keynsham Civic Centre to include solar power

 

Bath & North East Somerset Council is on track to complete its £34 million redevelopment of Keynsham by the Autumn.

The Council is working with the local community to revitalise the town with new jobs, new homes, and a revamped town centre. Plans include making better use of the existing town hall site to improve the town centre and encourage more private sector investment into Keynsham.

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

The new Keynsham Civic Centre

A Sainsbury’s Local was last month confirmed as the first letting for the development, and will create 20 to 25 full and part job opportunities. The Council has confirmed that Loungers cafe has agreed to take the unit behind Sainsbury’s, overlooking the park and a further unnamed occupier is relocating from Riverside. The Council is proactively marketing the remaining units and negotiations are underway on a number of these.

The new buildings will be known as the Keynsham Civic Centre, and will incorporate Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Offices, the One Stop Shop and retail units. The Council has also confirmed that a new street being created between the buildings will be called Market Walk, which links to the history of this part of the town, as well as looking to the future when there will be market stalls at this location.

Keynsham Civic Centre will be amongst the most energy-efficient in the country, with work to install one of the largest council-owned solar panel systems in the UK now completed.

Solar panels being installed at Keynsham.

Solar panels being installed at Keynsham.

The 750 solar panels – which cover an area equivalent to more than four tennis courts – will generate over 230,000 units of electricity each year, equivalent to the annual energy use of almost 70 homes. This will benefit the Council by around £50,000 every year, and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 125 tonnes. Over 20 years the benefits are expected to reach almost £1.5 million, and avoid CO2 emissions of 2,355 tonnes.

Cllr David Bellotti (LibDem, Lyncombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Resources, said: “This is a very exciting time for Keynsham and I have no doubt that this development will provide a real boost to the local economy with the creation of new jobs, better shopping facilities and a more attractive town centre.

“It is also a key part of the Council’s contribution to the district-wide carbon emission reduction target of 45% by 2026. Our Council office will be an ultra-low carbon building that has virtually no heating and cooling requirement because it will have natural ventilation and high levels of insulation. By generating our own solar energy on-site we will drastically reduce the building’s running costs and will also generate a stable income through the feed-in tariff.

“Not only will this benefit the environment, it will also save the Council and local taxpayers money which can be used to support essential frontline services.”

The development work is being carried out by Willmott Dixon while the solar installation was designed and installed by Solarsense.

For more information on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s regeneration of Keynsham town Centre, visit: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/keynshamregen.