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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Archaeology dig opens to public
Reconstruction of buildings in part of Calleva Atrebatum
An impression of how Calleva Atrebatum may have looked
Archaeology buffs are being given the chance to visit the excavation site of a major ancient Roman town.

Calleva Atrebatum, in north Hampshire, was once a major administrative centre.

The dig, run by the University of Reading, hopes to unravel the history of the town from its pre-Roman origins to its 5th Century abandonment.

It is opening to the public throughout the summer and 70 schoolchildren from across Hampshire and Berkshire are taking part in the dig.

The town's abandonment is what intrigues archaeologists, who have been working at the site during summer months since 1997.

Defensive walls still surround the area - now the village of Silchester - and are as high as four metres in places.

Members of the public will be able to watch excavations take place as well as demonstrations of Roman blacksmithing, spinning and weaving.

Children will be able to take part in mini excavations.

Project director Professor Michael Fulford said: "In the past few years the university's archaeologists have been working incredibly hard to build up a picture of life, leisure and industry at Silchester in the Roman period and during the Iron Age."

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