Press Releases

Silchester archaeological dig opens to the public – University of Reading

Release Date : 20 July 2004

Reconstruction picture 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 24 July and Saturday 7 August. Visitors attending the Open Days at the site, which staff and students from the University of Reading's Archaeology Department have been excavating and researching since 1997, will get to learn more about how life really was in Roman Britain, with a series of special events. Activities include demonstrations of Roman blacksmithing, spinning and weaving and experts will be on hand to give tours of the site. Children will be able to get stuck in with mini excavations, have the chance to dress up like Romans and get to handle some of the finds uncovered at Silchester. 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. "Anyone interested in local or Roman history will find a visit to Silchester to be a fascinating experience," said Professor Michael Fulford, the Project's Director. "In the past few years the University's archaeologists have been working incredibly hard to build up a picture of life, leisure and industry at Silchester in the Roman period and during the Iron Age." The open days take place at Silchester Roman Town, situated midway between Reading and Basingstoke, from 10am - 4.30pm on Saturday 24 July and Saturday 7 August. Visitors are also welcome at the site every day, except Fridays, between 10am and 4.30pm, until Saturday 14 August, to see the excavation in progress. 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 some 70 pupils from schools in Berkshire and Hampshire – including Bulmershe and Kendrick schools in Reading – as part of a project financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 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. On Wednesday 14 July, a group of 14 school students 'graduated' from the Field School and were presented certificates by Professor Gordon Marshall, the University of Reading's Vice-Chancellor, at a special ceremony held at the site. For further information about Silchester, visit the website or contact the University's Department of Archaeology on 0118 378 8132. End Professor Michael Fulford, the Director of the Silchester Town Life project is available for interview. Photographers and reporters are welcome to attend the Silchester Open Days. Please contact Craig Hillsley, the University's press officer, for further details. Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email:


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