Local History Society

 Silchester Visit, 4th July 2005




Arborfield Local History Society visited the site of the Roman city of Silchester on 4th July 2005. We are grateful to Lacey Steed who recorded the event in a set of photographs, shown below.

Silchester was built on the site of Calleva Atrebatum, and has one of the best preserved city walls in the country. The Society met in the main car park and traced the northern wall to the Amphitheatre, which is outside the city wall on its north-eastern corner. We then proceeded to the Church, which was of great interest to us because it was built in 1256 and bears a remarkable resemblance to sketches of the old St. Bartholomew's Church at Arborfield, built in the same year. We returned via the central droveway, past the busy archaeological camp organised by the University of Reading.

Arborfield is just north of the Devil's Highway, the ancient road from London to Silchester. Janet Firth, in 'Barkham: A History', records that an Iron-Age coin, a gold stater, was said to be found during ploughing on the parish boundary between Barkham and Arborfield in 1913, in Great Coombe Field. It is thought that this coin was minted at Calleva.  

Janet also records that an excavation in 1998 at Whitehall Farm uncovered mounds of iron slag, and describes the production of Iron Blooms from Iron Ore, which would have been taken to places like Calleva to make iron goods such as tools, weapons or metal bars for exchange. The archaeological site, at the old Whitehall Brick and Tile Works (now the Badger's Mount estate), is right at the southern tip of Arborfield, very close to the old trade route of the Devil's Highway.  

For more on Calleva Atrebatum, follow the link to an article from the BBC.

Walking north-eastwards along the top of the City WallWalking north-eastwards along the top of the City Wall

The Wall is impressive on its outer edge, which can be seen from the roadInside the Amphitheatre with its elliptical arena

The Church at the east of the City, built in 1256The Church bears a remarkable resemblance to St. Bartholomew's Old Church, Arborfield

The Churchyard is surrounded by stone walls, unlike Arborfield's old churchyardThe sunset - after which we visited a pub in the village

Photos from Lacey Steed;
Archaeological information from 'Barkham: A History' by David French and Janet Firth. Copies are available from the Barkham History Association.

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