Heritage Survey: the Roman City of Silchester

English Heritage, Wessex Archaeology

Silchester in Hampshire may not be as well known as some other Romano-British settlements, but it is nevertheless a site of considerable interest to heritage specialists.

The city began in the 1st century BC as Calleva, the pre-Roman homeland of the Atrebates tribe. After the Roman conquest in 43 AD, it grew rapidly and was renamed Calleva Atrebatum. It was abandoned in the 6th or 7th century but, unusually, it was not reoccupied in the medieval period. As a result, no further construction took place and its remains have lain largely undisturbed. Many of the perimeter walls survive, as do parts of the city amphitheatre. In fact, it stands as one of the best preserved Roman towns in Britain.

Today, the site is managed by English Heritage and it receives regular visits from school parties and other special interest groups.

As part of its management of the site, English Heritage commissioned Wessex Archaeology to produce a photogrammetric record and a detailed 3D model of the walls – a project that would require the use of high quality aerial photographs. The company therefore asked us to visit the site and to conduct an aerial survey of the perimeter.

Our role was to secure a collection of high resolution images that would be suitable for photogrammetry and the production of detailed plan / side-elevation line drawings. This we did, using a drone-based camera, and from the resulting images, Wessex was able to deliver the 3D model and other outputs required by EH.

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