In July some of us were lucky enough to take part in a visit to Silchester organised by CHERT one of the Community Archaeology Groups.
Our visit was part of the CBA Festival of Archaeology and we started with a talk by Professor Michael Fulford of the University of Reading in the medieval church which stands in one corner of the site.
Silchester, or Calleva Atrebatum as it was once known, is a unique Roman town that was abandoned after the Roman administration left Britain and was never resettled or built upon. The town gradually fell into dereliction, the stones were robbed and it became grown over until only parts of the walls remained above ground. Excavation began in the 19th Century and for the last 40 years a dig has taken place each summer supervised by Reading University.
We moved onto the site of this year's dig which is in Insula IX where we were shown around by the site supervisor. The earliest remains of the town are being investigated and an Iron Age and early Roman settlement have been uncovered beneath the later Roman stone-built town.
Most of the buildings at this time were constructed in timber and are built on the old alignment facing the sunrise. In about AD 70-80 a fire destroyed the buildings and the new Roman street plan was laid out but the houses in this area continued on the old alignment. Many wells have been excavated, filled with debris and votive offerings We next met the finds supervisor who showed us some of the lovely artefacts that have been uncovered. Brooches, rings, coins, keys, pots, mortaria, tiles and a delicate medical instrument were all examined by us. Many of the finds are now housed in Reading Museum - maybe an idea for a future visit.
We finally boarded our coach to wend our way home having had a fascinating and informative day, and it didn't rain!
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