Visit to Silchester

The ancient Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum in close to modern day Silchester. It is just in Hampshire, south west of Reading. This large town probably flourished during the Iron Age, but the Romans took over soon after 43AD and developed the town into a major settlement, eventually surrounding it with massive walls, the remains of which are still clearly visible.

Professor Mike Fulford and his assistant Amanda Clarke of the University of Reading have been conducting excavations on one part of this large site, called ‘Insula 9’, for 9 years now. The investigations are run during July and August as a large training exercise for over 100 university students and keen amateurs.

Silchester Excavation
Silchester Excavation

Originally Mike had agreed to give Maidenhead Historical & Archaeological Society a guided tour on the 30th of July, so I went along to update myself on developments. Mike took us around the ‘insula’, which is about 100 metres square and explained the changes in the Roman road alignment and repositioning of houses that had taken place over the centuries.

The ‘artefacts lady’ showed us what had been unearthed in 2008. She showed us a selection of clasp pins and brooches, as well as some coins and a specialised medical tool used for ‘male conditions’. The Dolphin artefact was probably the decorative top of a decanter, or similar (wine) container.

Again there was a profusion of Roman pottery, including pieces of Samian ware (from north Gaul/modern day France). A few sherds of Iron Age pottery have also emerged confirming the site’s history prior to the Roman invasion.

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