Coln Akeman, Cirencester and the British Cotswolds
by Victoria Tait
The Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery series is centred around Akemans antique centre and auction house which occupy a converted mill, on the outskirts of the village of Coln Akeman.
The mill and the village are fictitious but the area where they are set, the picturesque Cotswolds in southern-west central England, are not. The Cotswolds are a range of rolling hills stretching from the upper reaches of the River Thames to the escarpment above the Vale of Evesham.
Covering 800 square miles, the Cotswolds straddle five different counties: Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, and Worcestershire. In 1990 they were designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
When you think of picture postcard images of quaint English villages, the setting of Midsomer Murders or Miss Marple’s St Marys Mead, it is most likely that you’re imagining the sandy-coloured stone houses of Cotswold villages.
The characters spend some time in historic Cirencester, one the Cotswold’s principal towns. In Roman times it was known as Corinium Dobunnorum and was the second largest city in England after London, or Londinium.
It was destroyed by the Saxons but rebuilt in the Middle Ages and became a prosperous wool town in Medieval England. The Augustinian Abbey of St Mary was constructed and dominated the townscape for four centuries, overseeing law and order and drawing wealth from the profitable wool trade.
At one time the Abbey’s land spread from Winchester to Somerset to Northampton, and even into Ireland. In 1539, Henry VIII confiscated the lands and ordered the complete demolition of the Abbey and all its buildings. Many of the buildings now seen in Cirencester are at least part built from Abbey stone.
Today Cirencester has an upmarket, genteel atmosphere and in 2019 it was voted one of Britain’s happiest places to live.
While the village where my story is set is fictious, there are geographical and historical reasons behind the name.
The River Coln is a tributary of the Thames which winds its way through an area of the Cotswolds to the east and north-east of Cirencester with several villages named after it including Coln St. Aldwyns and Coln Rogers.
It is an attractive river and runs through many idyllic Cotswold towns and villages including Bibury, where I took this photograph on a visit in September 2021.
The word Akeman comes from a Roman road of the same name which once linked Cirencester with Watling Street, north of St. Albans. In my imagination, the village of Coln Akeman is where the ancient Roman road and the River Coln meet.
Akeman may have derived from ‘Oak Man’ or ‘Axe-man’ which is why I named the village pub The Axeman.
I hope you enjoy my stories and their Cotswold setting.
About The Book
A dead body. Multiple disguises. Can an amateur sleuth see through the charade – or become a tragic victim?
Young military widow, Dotty Sayers, is delighted with her new job at an auction house in Britain’s picturesque Cotswolds. She agrees to take part in a Remembrance parade to commemorate her husband and his fallen comrades. But drama ensues when an unknown soldier is found dead.
Dotty assists the police and appraises objects found at the victim’s house, but rather than identifying the deceased, she discovers numerous personas. When a suspect is arrested, and Dotty is asked to look after Earl Grey, a British Blue cat, she realizes appearances can be deceiving. Can she track down the real culprit and prevent an innocent man from being imprisoned?
Can Dotty unmask the killer without putting her own life at risk?
Fake Death is the first book in the captivating Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery series. If you like intriguing mysteries, entertaining characters, and the glorious British countryside, then you’ll adore Victoria Tait’s enthralling tale.
Buy Fake Death and unmask a killer today!
About the Author
I was born and raised in Yorkshire, UK, and never expected to travel the world. But I fell for an Army Officer, and I’ve followed him from Northern Ireland, up to the Scottish Highlands, across to Africa and the Kenyan Savannah, back to the British Cotswolds, and we are now living in Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Southern Europe.
I never expected to be an author, but all this moving is not ideal for holding down a job. Instead, I’ve taken the experiences of the places I’ve lived to write vivid and evocative cozy mystery books with determined female sleuths.
I have two fast-growing teenage boys, and together we’ve learnt to ski on the Bosnian mountains. I also enjoy horse riding, mountain biking and I’ve started running as a way to improve my physical fitness, mental wellbeing and shed some excess pounds.
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