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Silchester: Excavations at the North Gate, on the North Walls, and in the Northern Suburbs 1988 and 1991–3

  • Michael Fulford (a1), Stephen Rippon (a1), Steve Ford (a1), Jane Timby (a1), Brian Williams (a1), Denise Allen, J.R.L. Allen, S.J. Allen, G.C. Boon, Tess Durden, Janet Firth, Sheila Hamilton-Dyer, M. Reid, D. Richards and Elizabeth Somerville...


Except for the interest aroused by their cemeteries, the extramural territories of the Roman cities of Britain have never aroused sufficient interest for them to have been subjected to systematic exploration. Nevertheless, as a sensitive barometer to chart their changing fortunes, the margins of a city have considerable potential, as Esmonde Cleary's review of the evidence from the cities and towns of Roman Britain amply demonstrated. Much of what we know derives from the results of adventitious rescue excavation carried out in the context of inter- and post-War city and town development, but comparatively little has emerged from greenfield sites like Calleva which have very largely escaped modern interference. Since the final season of the Society of Antiquaries’ excavation of Silchester in 1909 when attention focused on the ditches surrounding the town wall, only limited investigations have been made of the extramural territory of Calleva. Both Cotton and Boon excavated parts of the Outer Earthwork on the western side, but the evaluation of the defensive sequence was their principal objective, rather than an understanding of the extramural terrritory per se. That has had to wait for the systematic study of the aerial photography and material collected by field-walking which has given us a first glimpse of the organization and use of the extramural territory, and which has now been complemented by the publication of all the aerial photography from Silchester. The two types of survey have shown that the main axis of extramural activity is east-west along the roads leading to London and Cirencester/Bath. However, there is almost no aerial photography to illuminate our understanding of the north-south routes to Dorchester-on-Thames and Chichester/Winchester, although surface collection has revealed spreads of material extending over three hundred metres south of the South Gate through to trie fourth century.6 To the north, however, extensive semi-permanent pasture has hindered non-intrusive investigation and only the evidence of major structures such as the road to Dorchester, and elements of lanes and streets, have been evident from the aerial photography.



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1 Cleary, S. Esmonde, Extra-Mural Areas of Romano-British Towns, BAR British Series 169 (1987).

2 Hope, W.H. St John and Stephenson, M., ‘Excavations about the site of the Roman city at Silchester, Hants, in 1909’, Archaeologia lxii (1910), 317–32.

3 Cotton, M.A., ‘Excavations at Silchester 1938-9’, Archaeologia xcii (1947), 121–67 ; Boon, G.C., ‘Belgic and Roman Silchester: the excavation of 1954-8 with an excursus on the early history of Calleva’, Archaeologia cii (1969), 182.

4 Corney, M., ‘A Field Survey of the Extra-Mural Region of Silchester’, in Fulford, M., Silchester: Excavations on the Defences 1974-80, Britannia Monogr. 5 (1984), 239–97.

5 Bewley, R. and Fulford, M., ‘Aerial photography and the plan of Silchester’, Britannia xxvii (1996), 387–8 and plan.

6 Corney, op. cit. (note 4), figs 67-9, 72 and 74.

7 Fox, G.E. and Hope, W.H. St John, ‘Excavations on the site of the Roman city at Silchester, Hants’, Archaeologia lii(ii) (1890), 752.

8 Joyce, J.G., ‘Third account of excavations at Silchester’, Archaeologia xlvi(ii) (1881), 433–65.

9 Fox and Hope, op. cit. (note 7), 751-2.

10 ibid., fig. 1.

11 St John Hope and Stephenson, op. cit. (note 2), 317-32.

12 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4).

13 ibid., 27.

14 ibid., 40.

15 Cotton, op. cit. (note 3).

16 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 58-65.

17 ibid., and 234-6.

18 ibid., 235; Frere, S.S, ‘British urban defences in earthwork’, Britannia xv (1984), 69.

19 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 42.

20 Fox and Hope, op. cit. (note 7), 751.

21 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 68, 236.

22 ibid., 66.

23 ibid., 67.

24 ibid., 50, 74.

25 G.C. Boon, Silchester: The Roman Town ofCalleva (1974), 89 ; Bewley and Fulford, op. cit. (note 5).

26 Boon, op. cit. (note 25), fig. 13.

27 ibid., 74, figs 13-14.

28 ibid., 74-5, fig. 34.

29 ibid., 48, fig. 15, F7.

30 We are grateful to Mrs L. Mumford of the conservation laboratory, Dept. of Archaeology and Numismatics, National Museum of Wales for undertaking the cleaning of what was a heavily encrusted coin.

31 Crummy, N., ‘A chronology of bone pins’, Britannia x (1979), 157–63.

32 Greep, S., ‘The objects of worked bone’, in Zienkiewicz, J.D., The Legionary Fortress Baths at Caerleon, Vol. II , The Finds (1986), 211 ; N. Crummy, The Roman Small Finds from Excavations in Colchester 1971-9, Colchester Arch. Rep. 2 (1983), 96 ; Chapman, H., ‘Bone’, in Jones, D.M. (ed.), Excavations at Billingsgate Buildings ‘Triangle’ Loner Thames Street, 1974, London and Middlesex Arch. Soc. Spec. Paper 4 (1980), 93, fig.54, no. 489.

33 W.H. Manning, Catalogue of the Romano-British Iron Tools, Fittings and Weapons in the British Museum (1985) ; Manning, W.H. and Painter, K.S., ‘A Roman iron window grille from Hinton St Mary, Dorset’, British Museum Quarterly xxxi (1967), 122–30.

34 Manning, op. cit. (note33, 1985), pl. 161, R52.

35 ibid., pl. 16, E9, or pl. 11, B51-3.

36 ibid., 127 and pl. 59, R15.

37 Boon, op. cit. (note 25), 103.

38 Manning, op. cit. (note 33, 1985), 128, R17.

39 W.H. Manning, Catalogue of Romano-British Ironwork in the Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle upon Tyne (1976), 34.

40 Calkin, J.B., ‘Kimmeridge shale objects from Colliton Park, Dorchester’, Proc. Dorset Natur. Hist. Arch. Soc. xciv (1973), 47 ; Lawson, A.J., ‘Shale and jet objects from Silchester’, Archaeologia cv (1975), 272.

41 C. Isings, Roman Glass from Dated Finds (1957), 105-6, form 88b.

42 Harden, D.B., ‘Glass jug’, in Castle, S.A., ‘Excavations in Pear Wood, Brockley Hill, Middlesex, 1948-1973’, Trans. London and Middlesex Arch. Soc. xxvi (1975), 267–77.

43 Timby, J., ‘The Pottery’, in Fulford, M., The Silchester Amphitheatre: Excavations of 1979-85, Britannia Monogr. 10 (1989), 8094 ; eadem, ‘The Pottery’, in M. Fulford, Late Iron Age and Roman Silchester: Excavations on the Forum-Basilica, 1977 and 1980-86, Britannia Monogr. (forthcoming).

44 Young, C.J., Oxfordshire Roman Pottery, BAR 43 (1977) , Type W2-5, a.d. 100-240. Hereafter reference is to Young Type 00.

45 Timby, op. cit. (note 35, 1989), 89.

46 Lyne, M.A.B. and Jefferies, R.S., The Alice Hoit/Farnham Roman Pottery Industries, CBA Res. Rep. 30 (1979). Hereafter reference is to Lyne and Jefferies Form 00.

47 Gillam, J.P., ‘Coarse fumed ware in Britain and beyond’, Glasgow Arch. Journ. iv (1976), 5780. Hereafter reference is to Gillam Type 00.

48 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 233.

49 ibid., 235.

50 M. Fulford and J. Timby, ‘Tile and Brick’, in Fulford, op. cit. (note 43,1989), 142-5.

51 G. Brodribb, Roman Brick and Tile (1987), 55.

52 Hope and Stephenson, op. cit. (note 2), 323.

53 Fox and Hope, op. cit. (note 7), 757.

54 T.B. Johnston and J. Whillis (eds), Gray's Anatomy (1958), 342.

55 J. Firth, ‘The Human Bone’, in Fulford, op. cit. (note 43, forthcoming).

56 Johnston and Whillis, op. cit. (note 54), 342.

57 Gerven, D.P. van, ‘The contribution of size and shape variation to patterns of sexual dimorphism of the human femur’, Amer. J. Phys. Anthrop. xxxvii (1972), 58.

58 Johnston and Whillis, op. cit. (note 54), 342.

59 Crummy, P., Excavations at Lion Walk, Balkerne Lane, and Middleborough, Colchester, Essex, Colchester Arch. Rep. 3 (1984), 94–8.

60 Frere, S.S., ‘Roman Britain in 1990’, Britannia xxii (1991), 262.

61 ibid., 265.

62 The methods used for identification and recording were based on the FRU (Faunal Remains Unit, Southampton) method 86 system, with some modifications (see FRU archive, and SH-D archive file BONESTRU). Identifications were made primarily using the modern comparative collections of Hamilton-Dyer, S.. Measurements follow Driesch, A. von den, A Guide to the Measurement of Animal Bones from Archaeological Sites, Peabody Mus. Bull. 1 (1976) , in the main and are in millimetres unless otherwise stated. Withers heights are based on factors recommended by Driesch, A. von den and Boessneck, J., Kritische Anmerkungen zur Widerristhöhenberechnung aus Langenmassen vor-und frühgeschichtlicher Tierknochen, Säugetierkundliche Mitteilungen 22 (1974), 325–48. Archive material includes metrical and other data not in the text and is kept on paper and disk. The archive printout lists details of finds in order of phase, feature, context, species, and anatomical region. A complete species list and species codes used in archive and tables is given in Table 3.

63 J.M. Maltby, ‘The Animal Bones’, in Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 199-212.

64 ibid.

65 Maltby, J.M., Faunal Studies on Urban Sites: the Animal Bones from Exeter 1971-1975, Exeter Arch. Rep. 2 (1979) ; idem, The Animal Remains’, in Woodward, P.J., Davies, S.M. and Graham, A.H., Excavations at the Old Methodist Chapel and Greyhound Yard, Dorchester, 1981-1984, Dorset Nat. Hist, and Arch. Soc. Monogr. 12 (1993).

66 Harcourt, R.A., ‘The dog in prehistoric and early historic Britain’, Journ. Arch. Sci. i (1974), 151–76.

67 Parker, A.J., ‘The birds of Roman Britain’, Oxford Journ. Arch, vii (1988), 197226.

68 D. Serjeantson, ‘The Bird Bones’, in Fulford, op. cit. (note 43, forthcoming).

69 S. Hamilton-Dyer, ‘The Fish Remains’, in Woodward et al, op. cit. (note 65).

70 Hamilton-Dyer, S., ‘The animal bone’, in Zienkiewicz, J.D., ‘Excavations in the scamnum tribunorum at Caerleon: the Legionary Museu m site 1983-5’, Britannia xxiv (1993), 132–6 ; Maltby, op. cit. (note 65); T.P. O'Connor, ‘The Animal Bones’, in Zienkiewicz, op. cit. (note 32), 225-48 ; idem, Bones from the General Accident Site, Tanner Row, in Addyman, P.V. (ed.), The Archaeology of York, Vol. 15, fasc.ii, The Animal Bones (1988).

71 Maltby, op. cit. (note 63).

72 Maltby, J.M., ‘Urban-rural variations in the butchering of cattle in Romano-British Hampshire’, in Serjeantson, D. and Waldron, T. (eds), Diet and Crafts in Towns, BAR British Ser. 199 (1979), 75106.

73 O'Connor in Zienkiewicz, op. cit. (note 70).

74 King, A., ‘A comparative survey of bone assemblages from Roman sites in Britain’, Inst. Arch. London Bull, xv (1978), 207–32.

75 Winder, J., ‘The marine mollusca’, in Holdsworth, P., Excavations at Melbourne Street, Southampton 1971-6, CBA Res. Rep. 33(1980), 121–7.

76 Smith, P.S., ‘Marine mollusca’, in Rook, T., ‘The Roman villa site at Dicket Mead’, Herts. Arch, ix (1987), 170–2.

77 Winder, J., A Study of the Variation in Oyster Shells from Archaeological Sites and a Discussion of Oyster Exploitation, Ph. D. thesis, University of Southampton (1993).

7 ibid.

79 J.D. Fish and S. Fish, A Student's Guide to the Seashore (1989).

80 Winder, op. cit. (note 77).

81 P. Walne, The Culture of Bivalve Molluscs: 50 Years Experience at Conwy (1974).

82 H.A. Cole, Oyster Cultivation in Britain (1956).

83 Winder, op. cit. (note 77).

84 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 35-6, figs 2-3.

85 ibid., 74, figs 13-14.

86 Boon, op. cit. (note 25), 89, 91-2 ; Bewley and Fulford, op. cit. (note 5).

87 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 68, 236.

88 Cotton, op. cit. (note 3).

89 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4).

90 Gillam, op. cit. (note 47).

91 Lyne and Jefferies, op. cit. (note 46).

92 Fulford, M.G., New Forest Roman Pottery, BAR 17 (1975).

93 Young, op. cit. (note 44).

94 Lyne and Jefferies, op. cit. (note 46), 45ff.

95 T. May, The Pottery Found at Silchester.

96 Boon, op. cit. (note 3), pl. III(a).

97 Timby, op. cit. (note 43, 1989), fig. 49.

98 Fulford, op. cit. (note 4), 39-40.

99 M. Fulford, ‘Silchester: the early development of a civitas capital’, in S.J. Greep (ed.), Roman Towns: The Wheeler Inheritance, CBA Res. Rep. 93 (1993), 29.

100 Cotton, op. cit. (note 3).


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