Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Silchester's Roman secrets.

Last week I was getting fairly depressed and Robyn forced me to go out - it was the day before I was due at Hospital and I knew it wasn't going to go well. We have other problems too only we can't write about them yet.

We looked at the map and we ended up going to Silchester - a tiny village near Aldermaston.

I would be the first to admit that it isn't exactly Rome but I'm never going to make it there now.

What's interesting about Silchester is that after the Romans left it just died out where every other Roman town carried on (London, Chester, Bath, York) as a British settlement. The stones may have been stolen, but life carried on a bit differently.

These days at Silchester, there's just a farm, a church and a little hamlet. Nothing like a town for thousands of people.

What there is is a big open area where a Roman town used to be; Calleva Atrebatum;


That raised mound in the far middle of the field is what's left of the 'Basilica', the centre of the town. All around the edges are the remains of the town walls, just by the treeline.

When you get close up to the walls you can see how formidable they would have been......once;



All the earth from the outside was thrown over the wall to make the ramparts on the inside;


When you look at the wall close up you can see how it's eroded from the outside in.

But the Roman cement was very impressive;


This is just speculation by me but the town was named after the 'Atrebates' a tribe who came from Northern France/Belgium.

There are records of them fighting the Romans in France but then they seem to have come to Britain with Julius Caesar when he invaded Britain.

Calleva Atrebatum was obviously a garrison town and an important one - they minted their own coins. All around were four British tribes who were probably hostile.

This is the North gate and as you can see it was a formidable barrier;


Big wood gates held up by solid stone ramparts.

My take is that the Atrebatum were Roman 'trusty's' and were there to enforce Roman rule and take in the taxes that were due on the invader's behalf.

When the Romans left, the town would have been raised to the ground and any Atrebatum would have been killed off.

Which I think is why there's nothing much left.

The best thing is just outside the Town walls - The Amphitheatre;


And very impressive it is too. Giant terraces that would have held most of the people of the town; for Gladiators and the slaughter of wild animals.

The Romans created a trade in wild animals like Lions, Tigers, Bears, Elephants and they imported so many that they had a serious effect on the ecology of Africa and Asia - by effectively exterminating the big predators


There were two semi circular bays which look to me like that's where the sand or the sawdust was kept to cover up the blood in the arena.

I'm afraid the Romans were not very nice people.


I climbed up to the top of the terrace to get the view from the cheap seats;


We were struck by how good the acoustics were from the centre of the arena.

As you can see, the farm cottages were encroaching on the ruins;


It's very eerie, a lost town.......with nasty secrets.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact me: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

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