News Items

Lecture Report – Return to Calleva, The Bath House Complex

This month’s talk to the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group was given on 2nd November by Prof. Michael Fulford of Reading University, summarising the excavations of the Roman bathhouse in Calleva, present-day Silchester, between 2018 and 2021. This year is likely to be the last season of digging unless more funding becomes available.

These excavations followed previous ones done between 1890 and 1909 and benefited from improvements in archaeological techniques. The baths dated from the first century to the late fourth century AD, through almost all the Roman occupation, and were modified several times during this period.

Some beautiful objects were found, such as a gold ring and an ornate strap fitting, besides more mysterious ones – such as dog skulls and a human skull from the bottom of a ditch. Many discoveries resulted from the excellent preservation of organic materials because of the waterlogged condition of the site, for example, the alder wood piles of foundations and an oak-lined drain. The archaeologists learned about the health of the inhabitants through the discovery of the eggs of intestinal parasites, and even intimate details about their lives from the remains of bracken, which they used before toilet paper!

For more information, visit: Reading University – Silchester