Press Releases

Step back in time at Silchester Roman Town open days – University of Reading

Release Date : 09 July 2010

Experience life as a Roman in Britain in the first century AD at the annual free Open Days at Silchester this summer.

On Saturday 17 July and Saturday 31 July the public have a wonderful opportunity to 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 this Roman town. There will be expert tours by Silchester Field Director Amanda Clarke, and Professor Michael Fulford, Director of the Silchester Field School. There will also be talks on finds, demonstrations, and a range of children's activities, including tours, a mini excavation, dressing up, and handling finds.

And finds from last year have been cleaned for display, including the bronze figurine of an Egyptian deity, Harpocrates, attached to part of a charcoal-burning brazier. This would have been used to provide heating and lighting.

Professor Fulford said: "This is the earliest representation of any Egyptian deity in Roman Britain, and the link with the brazier, the sort of thing you would expect to find in Pompeii, is the first evidence of such a luxurious item from Roman Britain."

This year, visitors will also be treated to the Legio Secunda Augusta (The Augustan Second Legion) which will be pitching camp in the field adjacent to the site to give a snapshot of army life two millennia ago. The re-enactment group will display their military skills, including gladiatorial combat, on both 17 and 18 July. The Roman Weekend will include demonstrations of cooking, cosmetics, spinning, healthcare and children's games.

The Silchester Field School takes place every summer for six weeks during which time all first year archaeology students at the University of Reading attend along with external participants from all over the world. They will be excavating Insula IX, one part of the large town at Silchester. The purpose of the excavation is to trace the site's development from its origins before the Roman conquest to its abandonment in the fifth century AD.

During the Field School, which runs until 8 August, visitors are welcome to see the excavation in progress every day, except Fridays, between 10:00am and 4:30pm. Groups must book in advance.

Professor Fulford added: "We are building on last year and focusing on the town in the mid first century, at the transition from Iron Age to Roman. 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 themselves - you never know what you might find!"

The Open Days will run from 10:00am to 4:30pm. For directions to the site, please visit

The Roman Weekend is running from 11:00am to 4:30pm on both days and visitors can park at the Roman Wall car park, in Wall Lane. Entrance prices are £7 for adults, £5 concessions, and £20 for a family ticket. Under-fives go free. More information about the weekend is at

Visitors can also learn more about the site at Reading Museum's Roman Fun Day on Tuesday 27 July, from 10:00am to 3:30pm. Meet wealthy Roman citizens from Silchester, handle some Roman artefacts and join in with some Roman-themed crafts - £1 per person for all activities.


For more information, please contact James Barr, press officer, on 0118 378 7115 or email, or Rona Cheeseman, press officer, on 0118 378 7388, email

Notes to editor

The Department of Archaeology has an international reputation in research and teaching. The University was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize 2009 in recognition of the excellence of the archaeology department, which, uniquely within the study of archaeology, combines ground-breaking research, enterprise and teaching.

The Field School is a key module in undergraduate degrees and provides students with a sound knowledge of archaeological field techniques as well as teamwork, numeracy and IT skills.

University of Reading is rated as one of the top 200 universities in the world (THE-QS World Rankings 2009).

  • The University of Reading is one of the UK's top research-intensive universities. The University is ranked in the top 20 UK higher education institutions in securing research council grants worth nearly £10 million from EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, AHRC and BBSRC. In the RAE 2008, over 87% of the university's research was deemed to be of international standing. Areas of particular research strength recognised include meteorology and climate change, typography and graphic design, archaeology, philosophy, food biosciences, construction management, real estate and planning, as well as law.
  • Standards of teaching are excellent - the University scored highly in the National Student Survey 2009.  87% of Reading students responding to the survey stated they were satisfied with the quality of their course.
  • The University is estimated to contribute £600 million to the local economy annually.
  • University of Reading is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.
  • More information at


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