Going underground for secrets of Cirencester's cellars
MYTHS and legends of what lies beneath the roads of Cirencester’s Market Place are being investigated ahead of a proposed £1million revamp.
In preparation for a major overhaul of the town centre, archaeologists, architects and engineers have been exploring the secret world of Cirencester’s cellars.
The investigation, which is due to be completed by the end of this month, has been carried out to test the strength of the road surface and check for any underground voids.
Civil engineer Martin Jones, of Infrastructure Design Studio in Cirencester, said that despite rumours of connecting tunnels, chambers and headless monks, the quest had thrown up few surprises.
"Horton’s cellar is the biggest one we’ve looked at so far," he said. "It sticks out 20 feet from the shop."
While fireplaces, stone archways and wells have been found underground, Martin said there was no evidence of connecting tunnels or large voids. However, radar technology may be used to eliminate any doubt.
Lead designer Martin Portus, of Portus and Whitton LLP, said a traction engine once reportedly fell through a weak section of road in the Market Place. He added the new design would actually reduce weight on the road’s surface so the investigation was merely a precautionary measure.
Following feedback from the public and community groups, minor details have been changed in the proposed "shared space" Market Place scheme.
A tactile edge between the road and pavement and a road crossing, marked out by studs, has been added.
"It still allows for the free movement of disabled people and wheelchairs, but it is something groups for the blind wanted," Martin said.
A planning application is expected to be submitted to Cotswold District Council in February, at which time local comments will be invited.
Cirencester's Town Centre Regeneration Project can be viewed at cirencester.gov.uk and feedback can be given to Martin Portus on 01285 644335.
- No headless monks were harmed in the taking of this underground cellar photograph. However, a Standard photographer did fall through a well and hurt his shin.