Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery
Free - Donations welcome

2000 years ago, Silchester, just north of Basingstoke near the Hampshire/Berkshire border, was a hub of trade to the Roman world and a capital for the tribe that controlled the area. In this interactive exhibition, explore the streets of ancient Silchester as it changes from an Iron Age to a Roman town.

Silchester was the capital of the Atrebates and an important trade centre. Coins were minted there, and tribute flowed in from the surrounding area. But what was life like? What did people eat, what diseases did they have and what animals did they live alongside? See the skeleton of the earliest known lap dog in Britain and learn about its origins. When the Romans came from the middle of the 1st century AD onwards, what changes did they bring? Learn about the Roman bath house, dwellings, and the amphitheatre. See behind the scenes of an archaeological dig that has been revealing its secrets for half a century.

The town was abandoned around AD 400 and never had layers of later buildings built over earlier ones, leaving us a uniquely preserved settlement. The current phase of excavation started in 1974 and is still revealing new secrets about the people who lived there.

Exhibition in collaboration with the University of Reading

Running from Saturday 10 February - Sunday 28 April - Please check opening times over Easter weekend before visiting. 

Group Bookings: if you wish to bring a group of 8 or more people to visit the exhibition please ring the museum 01256 465902 during opening hours, to check availability. 

Please note: Photography is not allowed in the exhibition, we appreciate your co-operation. 

Image: © Historic England Archive

Becoming Roman – Silchester a Town of Change, will tour to the Red House Museum in Christchurch, Andover Museum, Reading Museum and Reading University Library.

image credit © Historic England Archive

  • drawing of old Silchester Town from above
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