silchester Roman excavations
Silchester how it all began
The excavations at Silchester have become a landmark in the study of Roman Britain. Eight years after CA’s last report (CA 177), we ask excavators Mike Fulford and Amanda Clarke for an update. Their work reveals the transition from Iron Age Britain to Roman Britannia was riddled with conflict.
The Victorian plan of Roman Silchester – Calleva Atrebatum – reveals several buildings whose orientation does not conform to that of the Roman street-grid. This unusual fact led earlier archaeologists, notably Aileen Fox, to speculate whether there was an ‘Old Town Plan’. One of the key reasons for choosing Insula IX for a long-term below The Iron Age oppidum and the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) from the air, showing the new excavations in Insula IX in progress.
Why are so many of Roman Silchester’s excavated buildings misaligned with the Roman street-grid? Shown here is the evidence for two Iron Age streets (highlighted) at the end of the 2010 season on Insula IX. This layout determined the orientation of buildings within the Roman insula until the end of the 3rd century AD. Is this the answer? Did the Atrebatian notables of Calleva deliberately ignore the new Roman layout in favour of the old? And was this an act of anti-Roman resistance?
current archaeology | www.archaeology.co.uk research excavation was that it contained buildings on contrasting orientations: how did these differently aligned buildings fit into the history of the town? House 1 of the Victorian excavation of 1893-1894 – oriented about 45° in relation to the Roman grid – was contained within our trench. Early on, we established that it had been demolished by about AD 300. But when was it built? We have now confirmed that this large townhouse originated as two separate masonry houses of the early 2nd century AD, and that these were subsequently amalgamated and rebuilt as a single dwelling in the early 3rd century. However, we have also discovered that the first phase of building in stone was preceded by a timber
January 2011 |