Silchester Today


The first evidence of settlement in the area dates from the first century BC when the Iron Age town of Calleva was founded by people of the Atrebates tribe from northern Gaul. It grew into a major trading centre for horse and chariot gear, metals, grain, slaves and other commodities. During the Roman occupation of Britain, which lasted for 400 years, the town was taken over by the Romans in the mid 1st century AD and became Calleva Atrebatum. The Roman wall and the amphi-theatre are still standing and extensive archeological work has been done on the site firstly by the Victorians and more recently by Reading University. The town was largely abandoned for unknown reasons during the fifth or sixth century. Little is know about the history after this but an entry in the Domesday Book in 1086 records two manors in Silchester as the town was now known. The only surviving evidence of any Medieval occupation of the site is the 12th century church of St Mary the Virgin. The site appears to have been deserted around 1400 AD perhaps as a consequence of the Black Death.

The present village was founded to the west of the Roman town where the earliest houses date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

A detailed history of the ancient site at Silchester and current archaeological work can be found at the Reading University website