The University of Reading Department of Archaeology has undertaken excavations within the walls of Silchester Iron Age oppidum and Roman town (Calleva Atrebatum) since the 1970s, led by Prof Michael Fulford CBE. Work continues today through three major projects: Nero at Silchester, the Silchester Environs Project, and the post-excavation phase of the Town Life Project. The central archaeological site, in north Hampshire, is of international significance, and is classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The wider Silchester landscape also contains a number of known and recently discovered sites of significance which are under active investigation by the project team.
Nero at Silchester is the most recent project. It seeks to investigate the tantilising possibility that Nero undertook an imperial-sponsored building programme at later first century AD Silchester. We are excavating a tile kiln site at Little London as it is a possible source of Nero-stamped tiles for the town. Insula III has been the site of excavations from 2013-16, reassessing major structures in that block of the town, initially discovered by the Victorian excavators. In 2018, we aim to further investigate the public baths in Insula XXXIIIA, where a Nero tile was discovered in 1904, and which offers the potential for waterlogged preservation of significant organic remains.
The Silchester Environs Project is a wider landscape study, innovative in it’s application of a range of scientific techniques at a landscape scale. Extensive aerial interpretation has tripled the number of known sites in the 140km2 surveyed. Several of the later prehistoric sites are now under investigation though geophysical survey, excavation, and post-excavation analysis and dating.
The Silchester Town Life Project comprised large-scale excavation within Insula IX from 1997-2014, and is now in the post-excavation and publication phase. The findings have provided fundamental new insights into aspects of Late Iron Age and Roman urban living including diet, agriculture, craft, trade, industry and domestic life.
Please visit the project website for information on previous and ongoing work, visitor information, and more about the project team.