Mon, 08 Jul 2019
THE University of Reading archaeology team has returned for another season of excavating at the Roman site at Silchester.
Seventy archaeologists have been working on the site of the Roman bathhouse since June 17 and have uncovered a tepidarium, part of the caldarium, a colonnaded exercise area and an Iron Age ditch running outside the walls of the bathhouse.
The collonaded exercise area is particularly unusual as the tiles which covered the drain within this area are completely intact and in position.
The excavation is being led by Professor Mike Fulford.
He said: “It has more than met my expectations this season.
“We are learning so much more about building construction than they knew when the site was first excavated at the start of the 20th century.
“We have lots of walls adding a new dimension which is difficult to understand.”
There are a number of different building phases visible within the archaeology, with the earliest bathhouse structure dating to the time of Emperor Nero in 30/40AD and extending through to the fourth century.
It is a fascinating jigsaw puzzle for the archaeologists to make sense of these multiple activity layers, considering the Romans were the ultimate recyclers and reused material from earlier work in their later building projects.
The team of archaeologists has also unearthed a number of exciting finds.
Mr Fulford said: “We have found lots of items associated with personal adornment.
“Lots of pins, brooches, coins, and bone hair pins.”
It has also discovered a bronze strigel – used for scraping the skin clean – and a great deal of building material.
Many of the tiles bear footprints of animals which walked over them before the clay had dried. These include stoat, dog and deer.
The Roman city of Silchester, at its peak in the first century, would have housed between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
The team will continue work at the site until July 13.
There is also an open day on Saturday for members of the public to visit the site.
Last year, more than 800 people attended the open day.
Mr Fulford said he thought the 2020 excavation would be the last one at Silchester, as funding is getting harder to come by.
Every day on site costs £3,000 and the team relies a great deal on donations.
For more information, go to https://research.reading.ac.uk/silchester