Press Releases

Silchester Roman Town Open Days – get to the bottom of archaeology this Summer! – University of Reading

Release Date : 13 July 2009

Gladiator fights and mysterious Roman tales are just some of the fun family activities taking place on two free open days at the Silchester Roman Town this Summer.

On Saturday 18 July and Saturday 1 August, the public have a wonderful opportunity to come and find out more about this fascinating site that the University of Reading's Archaeology Department has been excavating and researching since 1997.

Visitors attending the open days are set for an intriguing look into how life really was in a Roman town in Britain during the first century AD. Youngsters can get dressed-up like a Roman and famous children's author Caroline Lawrence will narrate exciting extracts from her book, The Roman Mysteries. There will also be demonstrations by a Roman blacksmith and the University's expert Silchester team will be on hand to answer questions throughout the day.

The Open Days are part of a series of special events the University is hosting as part of the British Festival of Archaeology, an annual celebration coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology. The Festival aims to give everyone the opportunity to learn about their local heritage and see archaeology in action.

During the two weeks there will be tours of the excavation by students and excavation participants, displays of the artifacts discovered on site and a chance to watch the team of archaeologists at work. At St Mary's Church in Silchester village, University of Reading academics are giving a series of fascinating talks on subjects including 'Human Origins' and 'Travels with a Field Archaeologist'.

Professor Michael Fulford, Director of the Silchester Field School said: "We are delighted to be playing a major part in this year's British Festival of Archaeology. There's so much for everyone to see and do over the two weeks. Visitors are bound to enjoy coming to the site where they can learn from our team of experts and even have a go at excavation never know what you might find!"

Calleva Atrebatum is a major Iron Age centre and Roman town, administrative centre of the Atrebates, who inhabited the equivalent of modern Berkshire, northern Hampshire, south Oxfordshire, western Surrey and eastern Wiltshire. It is situated in the modern village of Silchester in northern Hampshire.

The Silchester project is both a training field school and a research excavation located in the heart of Calleva Atrebatum. Its overall aim is to trace the Iron Age origins, subsequent Roman development and eventual abandonment of one 'insula', or city block, of the town. It has now reached the 1st century AD and the period of the first generations of the Roman occupation of southern Britain. Traces of the underlying Iron Age settlement are beginning to emerge.

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 over the six weeks by some 40 pupils from schools in Berkshire and Hampshire. The 16-18-year-olds work at the site for one week and fully take part in the excavation by digging, planning, recording and processing finds.

During the Field School, which runs until 9th August, visitors are welcome to see the excavation in progress every day, except Fridays, between 10:00 and 4:30pm. Groups must book in advance.

Open days will be held on Saturday 18 July and 1 August running from 10:00am - 4:30pm. For further information and timings of all the activities the University is involved with during the British Festival of Archaeology visit


For all University of Reading media enquiries please contact James Barr, Press Officer tel 0118 378 7115 or email


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