Tree with tiles round - West Swindon

Tree with tiles round – West Swindon

28th September 2014: Old post updated

Kiln Park

It’s interesting how, since starting this blog, I’ve begun noticing things more. Apropos the subject of this post it’s less a case of noticing and more a case of paying some actual attention.

Kiln Park is a case in point.

I live in West Swindon and regularly walk to the West Swindon Centre, my route to which traverses an area of open ground that forms a sort of ‘no-man’s land’ between the villages of Grange Park, Westlea and Freshbrook. On this area there sits a tree – I’m almost sure it used to be circled by a bench. But if memory serves me correctly on that then it’s long gone now.

However, what does still circle the tree are clay tiles. Clearly I’ve noticed both the tree and the tiles before but haven’t, until now, really given any thought about the message they bear:

Kiln Park  150 AD – 1989 with patterned tiles in between the tiles with text on them. I assume the tiles were installed in 1989…

But it’s only this year that I’ve managed to discover the history behind these tiles.

Back in the day when the Romans were stamping around this area there was a large Roman pottery industry in West Swindon. Certainly the ground here is all clay. I eventually got rid of my lawn because it either was so dry and hard that it had cracks like the San Andreas Fault running through it – or it was like Flanders.

Wikipedia tells us that there was a Roman town called Durocornovium (and don’t you think that sounds like a cough mixture?) to the east of Swindon from the 1st to the 4th centuries located in present day Wanborough. It is probable then that Swindon first began life as a settlement linked to a military encampment in the early days of the Roman occupation. The place that is now Swindon was on the junction of two Roman roads, one leading south from Cirencester towards Marlborough and the other south eastwards to Silchester ( Ermin Street). Evidence exists to show that Swindon’s quarries were in use at this time to produce stone for villas and clay from the Whitehill region (now West Swindon) was used to produce Whitehill Ware pottery. 

All of which is really rather fab and interesting is it not? An example of the seemingly small things that, at face value, appear insignificant but yet have history and stories behind them. For my money such things are the salt and pepper, the seasoning that adds flavour and colour to where one lives. And Swindon, as with any town up and down the land I’m sure, is full of small things like these tiles that are not, on the surface very interesting, but dig a little and nuggets of golden history and interesting stories lie beneath them.

It’s just a pity that, like so many little gems in Swindon, they are now looking a tad unloved. Along with the canal bridge and most of the public art. Swindon has a fine history of installing lots of wonderful things but seems never to have a strategy in place for what happens afterwards. A bit like the invasion of Iraq.


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