While not being in Surrey Heath, Silchester is somewhere that anyone with an interest in archaeology may like to visit, especially at this time of year. During July and early August, Silchester becomes a dig site. The Silchester Town Life Project is a research and training excavation carried out each summer by archeologists from around the globe plus the help of students from Reading University.
Located about midway between Basingstoke and Reading, Silchester is within driving distance (about 24 miles from Lightwater) of Surrey Heath and I think may be one of the closest sites for Roman remains.
The dig season runs until 8th August 2010 after which the site will be covered over until next year. A selection of this years Finds so far can be seen on the Finds Diary.
The Silchester site is the location for the Iron Age and Roman settlement of Calleva Atrebatum. Unlike most large Roman towns in Britain, Calleva Atrebatum was completely abandoned in fifth century A.D. In places the walls are more than 4 metres high, but inside the walls it appears at first just to be fields, a church and a farm house. Archaeologists have discovered over the years that there is a lot more to this site below current ground level. Find out more about the history of Silchester on The Silchester Town Life Project website.
There are several walking routes in the area which are well signposted. The shortest is a 2.2 mile walk around the Roman Town, which is mostly on the flat making it ideal for families. Some parts may not be suitable for buggies, so using a backpack/carrier may be best. Hampshire County Council Walks Leaflet (PDF)
Open Day: Saturday 31 July 2010
The open day offers expert tours, talks, and demonstrations plus a range of children’s activities; typically including tours, a mini excavation, dressing up, finds handling and planning. Admission and activities are free.
There is a car park off Wall Lane from which all walks on the walking leaflet start. Google Map