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Silchester, a site to behold – University of Reading

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Silchester, a site to behold

Release Date 12 July 2005

reconstruction of buildings in Insula IXA chance to visit one of the most exciting and important archaeological dig sites in the UK is on offer this summer at Silchester Roman Town, near Reading, with two free Open Days on Saturday 23 July and Saturday 6 August. This is the ninth season of work at the site, which staff and students from the University of Reading's Archaeology Department have been excavating and researching since 1997. Visitors attending the Open Days are set for a fascinating look into how life really was in a Roman town in Britain in the first century AD. Additional activities include demonstrations of Roman blacksmithing, spinning and weaving and experts will be on hand to give tours of the site. For the budding young Indiana Jones, children can take part in mini excavations, have the chance to dress up like Romans and handle some of the treasures unearthed at Silchester. "The eight years of excavation on this site at Silchester have been very successful," said Professor Michael Fulford, the Project's Director. "The University is immensely proud of the dig and the incredible effort put into the project by its students and participants from all over the world. "We are now beginning to get a real understanding of the lives of Silchester's inhabitants and how they changed during the Roman period. These open days are a wonderful opportunity for people, both young and old, to come and lean more about this important period in our history." The project is both a training Field School and a research excavation located in the heart of Calleva Atrebatum, a major Roman civitas capital (administrative centre), situated in the modern village of Silchester. The excavation is tracing the Iron Age origins, subsequent Roman development and eventual abandonment of one 'insula' (city block) of the town. For six weeks every summer, archaeology students from Reading and enthusiasts from as far away as the US and Australia attend the Silchester Field School. This year they are joined by over 70 pupils from schools in Berkshire and Hampshire – including pupils from Reading Grammar School, Bulmershe School, Kendrick School, Maiden Erleigh School and Leighton Park School in Reading. Some of these students are attending as part of a project financed by AimHigher. The 16-18-year-olds work at the site for one week and gain valuable learning experience by taking a full part in the excavation; digging, planning, recording and processing finds. The open days take place at Silchester Roman Town, situated midway between Reading and Basingstoke, from 10am - 4.30pm on Saturday 23 July and Saturday 6 August. Visitors are also welcome at the site every day, except Fridays, between 10am and 4.30pm, until Sunday 14 August, to see the excavation in progress. For further information about Silchester, please contact the University's Department of Archaeology. Tel: 0118 378 8132. End Notes for editors -Photographers/camera crews are welcome to attend the Silchester dig, and Professor Michael Fulford is available for interview. For further details and to arrange time, please contact Craig Hillsley, the University's press officer. T: 0118 378 7388 E: c.hillsley@rdg.ac.uk

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