Late Iron Age Calleva: The Pre-Conquest Occupation at Silchester Insula IX

University of Reading, 2018

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University of Reading (2018) Late Iron Age Calleva: The Pre-Conquest Occupation at Silchester Insula IX [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


Late Iron Age Calleva: The Pre-Conquest Occupation at Silchester Insula IX

The excavation in Insula IX of the Roman town of Silchester, commenced in 1997 and completed in 2014, presented the potential to explore an area of some 3025 m² within the defended core of the Iron Age oppidum which preceded the Roman town. While this area amounts to about 1 per cent of the 32.5 ha enclosed by the Inner Earthwork, the total excavated area within the defended core of the Iron Age oppidum (when combined with that of the basilica excavation, about 0.12 ha), amounts to some 1.2 per cent of the whole. Although it was clear from the earliest seasons that the foundations, pits and wells of the Roman town had penetrated into the underlying natural gravel and destroyed earlier occupation, the Victorian trenching had, fortunately, not reached down to the earliest occupation. Thus, it appeared likely that considerable areas of pre-Roman occupation remained undisturbed.

This proved to be the case when the earliest occupation was gradually revealed over the last seven seasons of fieldwork, from 2008 to 2014. The excavation revealed evidence of three compounds divided from each other by lanes or trackways aligned north-east/south-west and north-west/south-east. One compound, which contained the remains of a large timber hall, 47.5m in length, surrounded by groups of pits and traces of subsidiary timber buildings, accounted for the majority of the excavated area. Three phases of occupation could be defined with a smaller, 22.5m long hall replacing its larger predecessor in the final phase. Occupation in this part of Insula IX appears to have begun no earlier than c.10BC and continued to the Roman conquest of AD 43-4. There is continuity beyond the conquest through to the late first century AD and the division into two periods, Period 0 c.10BC to c. AD43 and Period 1, c. AD43 to c. AD80/90, is to an extent arbitrary. The data presented here relate to the late Iron Age, Period 0 occupation from Insula IX.