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Tour of The Ancient Severn Vale: Gloucester
by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia
A fascinating city nestling below the Cotswold Hills at the point where the Lower Severn Vale becomes the Bristol Channel, Gloucester is a place to be explored at leisure over at least two days. However, for the Britannia Day Trip to the Ancient Severn Vale, a three-hour visit to the Cathedral, the Close, the ruins of St. Oswald's Priory, the City Museum and the centre of town is recommended. There is plenty of well sign-posted parking in the city and a 'park and ride' service operates on
Gloucester was, historically speaking, the capital of the late Saxon Kingdom of Mercia and the third city of Medieval England. The Norman and Medieval Kings often held court here, particularly at Christmas, and it was from this city that William the Conqueror sent his commissioners out across the land to gather information for his nationwide survey known as the 'Domesday Book'.
First stop, St. Oswald's Priory down Archdeacon Street just west of the Cathedral. It's on the edge of the northern ring road and is easily glimpsed if you approach the city from this direction following signs to the cathedral. Sadly, there is not much left to see today: only a few
medieval arches in a park. There is a beautiful view of the cathedral across the ruins though and the building has a fascinating history. The original church was erected by the last King of Mercia and his formidable wife, Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians. It housed the remains of St. Oswald which she had brought to the safety of Gloucestershire when their Lincolnshire home came under Viking attack. The larger stones of the existing ruin are certainly of 10th century origin and excavation has revealed an elaborate eastern crypt, probably Aethelflaed's Royal Mausoleum.
Next stop: Gloucester Cathedral Close
Gloucester City Page
St. Oswald's Priory
History of Gloucester
History of Gloucester Cathedral