Posts Tagged ‘Park Hall’

Week Five: Oswestry and the Roman Army

Oswestry’s spectacular Roman marching camp is yet another piece of local heritage we don’t celebrate enough. The excavations in 1977 unearthed the remains of a spectacularly well-preserved Roman military site, with evidence that the camp was used and reused throughout the Roman occupation of Britain. Features such as the ovens built into the early phases of one ditch, and the large wooden gateway – one side of which was blocked off – make the Rhyn Park marching camp both notable and worth making something of. There is some material from the excavation in the Oswestry Town Museum, and the excavation report is available online – but the original excitement of those 1977 excavations has long passed, and Rhyn Park’s archaeological past seems in danger of being forgotten.

There’s no pressing need to do more excavation at the site, so more archaeology perhaps isn’t the answer. But what about more heritage? What about a timber gateway (rather like the one at The Lunt Roman Fort) down at Park Hall? A Rhyn Park reconstruction there would make the connection between Oswestry’s ancient military heritage and its historical military heritage. It could become the focus for a whole range of educational and economic opportunities that would connect Oswestry with the rest of Roman Britain, tapping into the visitors that at the moment bypass Oswestry in favour of Wroxeter or Chester. A Rhyn Park replica could even become the home of a re-enactment Legio Oswestria!

Roman Britain is an important part of our history and archaeology, and it’s a shame that Oswestry doesn’t benefit more from its links with this period. There are few market towns in the country with such a wealth and diversity of heritage monuments and science; it’s one of the things that makes Oswestry unique. Their contribution to the educational, economic and cultural life of the town could be immense – but it’s local interest and enthusiasm that is the catalyst.

What would it take to bring Rhyn Park back into the limelight?

The Oswestry Heritage Comics are a year-long series of weekly newspaper comic strips about the archaeology, history and heritage of area around Oswestry, Shropshire in the UK. The comics are published in the Oswestry and Border Counties Adverizer every Tuesday, and on Facebook. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Art and Remembrance - John S. 2011

I’m putting together a new project for 2011-2012 through the Inside Out art group called “Art and Remembrance”.

The Shropshire borderlands area around Oswestry is rich in military sites, from Park Hall, Bank Top and Rednal Airfield back through Offa’s Dyke, Wat’s Dyke to Old Oswestry Hillfort. Often, however, our acts of military remembrance are centred on recent monuments and overlook the military landscape that combat, imprisonment, military training and military logistics have created. I’m interested in the idea of art as an act of remembrance in the landscape, and using it to link the memories of vanishing places and sites to contemporary observations of remembrance.

I’m looking to bring together artists who are interested in similar themes, and whose work can create links between outdoor practice such as land-art, installation or performance and gallery/studio-based practice such as painting, drawing or sculpture. The idea of the project would be to create a series of linked works – some outdoor, some studio-based – which explore themes of landscape and remembrance with a focus on places around the North Shropshire borderlands.

The project would culminate in a year’s time, with a series of exhibitions and/or events timed to coincide with the 11th of November, 2012. I’d be interested in hearing proposals from any local artists, not just those currently in the Inside Out group. I’d also be interested in hearing from any artists not from the Shropshire borderlands area who might like to ‘link in’ somehow with this project.

I’ll mention this project at our upcoming Inside Out “Notebook Meeting” on Dec. 7th in the Willow Gallery, Oswestry, and there will be more information about the project as it develops on the Inside Out art group blog.

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