Since 1997, the University of Reading's Department of Archaeology, led by Professor Michael Fulford and Amanda Clarke, have been investigating one block or 'insula' of the Roman town. The aim is to provide details of town life from its origins in the late Iron Age to the time it was abandoned. Excavations take place every July and August and members of the public are welcome visit the site or even to take part through the field school programme.

silchester site from above

The town was built on an easily defensible spur of gravel about 90m above sea level, with commanding views to the east and south and the only access over level ground from the west.

It was originally surrounded on three sides by woodland, growing on the heavy clay soils, and this aspect of the site is enshrined within the Celtic name, which can be translated as (the town in the) woods of the Atrebates.

While the surrounding woodland provided fuel and building materials and hindered easy access to the settlement, the gravel spur itself was more easily cleared for cultivation and building by the first occupants. As the numerous wells on the site demonstrate, water was abundant from about 3-4m below ground surface and from springs around the edge of the gravel.

big town plan

(Information and imagery courtesy of University of Reading)
For futher information about the town of Silchester, please visit Reading Universities website:

Book your place on the tour of Silchester, conducted by excavators of the site, during the online booking process.

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