Excavations 2019: The Silchester baths

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Our summer excavations at the Calleva baths have now concluded and the site is now covered, backfilled and has been returned to pasture. Many thanks to all our visitors, volunteers and staff for what was a fantastic season. We’ll have lots more post-ex discoveries to announce over the next few months so be sure to follow all the updates and news at it happens through our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

The 2019 trenches

First dug by Edwardian archaeologists in 1903-04, the bath house is located near a natural spring in the southeast of the town and is thought to be one of the earliest post-conquest masonry buildings in Calleva. Built askew to the later city street grid, the baths lie at the edge of the town’s early inner earthwork – using the spring as a source of water and the large defensive ditch for drainage. Trench 1 from 2018 aimed to uncover much of the northern end of the building – the peristyle, associated colonnade and latrine – to see how it developed over time with the installation of the street.

Location of the baths

To the south, trenches 2 and 3 looked to reveal the relationship of the bath’s eastern wall to the ditch and nearby brook with this area providing one of the few unexcavated spaces within the Roman town. Trench 3 also focussed on one of the rooms on the eastern side of the building; a late tepidarium heated by an underfloor hypocaust system. Trench 4, opened in 2019, focussed on the western side of the building, eventually connecting with Trench 3 to provide a whole suite of rooms across the width of the building.  The Edwardian excavation of the bathhouse also yielded one of Silchester’s first Nero tiles, essential dating evidence that we hope to discover more of

The 1905 plan
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Visit our blog for more information about the trenches and what to expect in a Roman bath

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