More archaeological musings: a visit to Silchester

Last week, I visited Silchester (Hampshire, England). This is the site of the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, which is currently being excavated by a project run by the University of Reading.

Sadly, my visit to this (outdoor) site was cut short by rain. I was, however, able to view the archaeological site – I was given a short tour of the site by a very friendly and informative graduate named Helena (if she’s reading this, many thanks!!). I also walked around the Roman walls. Since no more recent settlement has been built on this site, the Roman town remains extremely well-preserved, and thus provides an extremely useful location for archaeological study. The archaeologists are even able to see traces of an Iron Age settlement underneath the Roman town.

Helena mentioned that the Roman town was abandoned, but did not explain why or whether this was linked to the general withdrawal of the Romans from Britain. I performed a little research (my sources are cited below, as usual), and discovered that Calleva Atrebatum may have survived until the sixth century (the Roman legions withdrew in 410 A.D.). After the departure of the Romans, the administration of the town probably deteriorated over time, with a disease perhaps finally destroying this relic of Roman civilisation in Britain. The reasons for the abandonment of Calleva Atrebatum are still not completely understood.

Here is a small collection of photographs from my trip to Silchester.

The archaeological dig site

The Roman walls of the town

And then it rained…

The North Gate. Its function was to control traffic as well as defend the town.

The archaeological dig site again