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Silchester Roman Town: The Town Life Project

Lecture by Professor Michael Fulford (University of Reading).

2019.06.07 | Julie Raunstrup

Date Tue 12 Nov
Time 13:00 14:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) Aarhus University Moesgård Allé 20, DK-8270 Højbjerg Denmark, Building 4230-232.


Silchester Roman Town (Hampshire, England) is well known through the excavations of the Society of Antiquaries of London between 1890 and 1909. These recovered what was believed to be the complete plan of the Roman town within its defensive wall which enclosed about 45ha. Excavations on the site of the forum basilica in the 1980s established that the antiquarian excavations had not been exhaustive and that there was still good preservation of the archaeology. Modern archaeological techniques of excavation have allowed us to recognise the remains of timber buildings as well unravel complicated stratigraphic sequences, which have provided the building blocks for constructing a history of the town and how it changed over time.

The Silchester ‘Town Life Project’ began in 1997 with the aim of providing as rich a picture as possible of the changing character of the occupation of the larger part of one insula (IX) of the Roman town from its origins in the late pre-Roman Iron Age through to its abandonment between the 5th and the 7th century CE.  The project has involved the total excavation of approximately 3000m2 with the associated recovery of large quantities of finds.  Preservation of the stratigraphy was very good and has enabled the establishment of six periods running from the late 1st century BC to the 5th to 7th century CE.  Alongside the analysis of stratified assemblages of material culture – coins, other metalwork, pottery, glass, building materials, metalworking debris, etc - has been systematic sampling for and study of environmental evidence - faunal remains, seed and plant remains, insects, pollen, etc.  In addition, the application of micromorphology and the chemical analysis of sediments, for example, has provided much new information on the changing lifeways of the inhabitants and the urban environment. The project is in its 22nd year and, with fieldwork completed in 2014, the publication programme is now well advanced.  My talk will describe some of the approaches taken by the project and the insights they have given into the history of the town and its inhabitants.

The lecture is followed by an informal reception. All are welcome. 

Lecture/talk, History and archaeology