- Walk the mile and a half trail along the Roman walls with your family, and bring your four-legged friends with you (on leads).
- Imagine watching a gladiator battle in the amphitheatre to the north-east of the Roman town.
- Visit the North and South Gates of the Silchester Roman City Walls and revel in the history.
Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre is an English Heritage site located near Silchester, Hampshire. Originally a tribal centre of the Iron Age Atrebates dating from the late 1st century BC, it became one of the largest and most important Roman towns in Britain after the Roman conquest of AD 43, when it became known as Calleva Atrebatum. Unlike most Roman towns, however, after it was abandoned in the 6th or 7th century, it was never reoccupied or built over, meaning that the Roman ruins offer a remarkably complete picture of the town’s significance and development.
The University of Reading has excavated a residential part of the town, known as insula IX, every summer since 1997. A variety of finds, including pottery, metalwork, and animal and plant remains were discovered and are now being studied. This has provided insight into the status, lifestyle, and occupations of the inhabitants, and any links to other Roman towns they may have had.
Take your family for a walk along the circuit of the Roman walls, which are some of the best-preserved Roman town defences and ancient city walls in all of England. Pootle along with your dog, too, but remember to keep them on a lead. Visit the remains of the amphitheatre, and imagine the gladiatorial conquests and fierce battles that took place there, alongside the games and trials.
You can also download an audio tour from the English Heritage website given by Professor Michael Fulford, the director of archaeological excavations at Silchester Roman town. Listen to the guide as you walk along the ancient city walls, and explore the exceptionally well preserved and important Roman town. Note that the tour begins in the main visitor car park.
For inspiration for things to do near Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre, consider travelling to historic Farnham. You can admire the red brick houses of Castle Street before viewing the impressive motte and shell keep of the 12th century castle. It’s around a 45-minute drive from Silchester, and tours of the Bishop’s Palace are available on Wednesday afternoons. Picturesque Waverley Abbey is also close to Farnham and makes a wonderful spot for a picnic and wildlife watching on the nearby River Wey. The Grange at Northington is also a fabulous option for a picnic and a peaceful walk. Around a 50-minute drive from Silchester Roman town, The Grange is set like a lakeside temple in a Greek Revival style, located in a glorious landscaped park.
Otherwise, consider exploring the rose garden of Mottisfont Abbey and check out the art collection. Kids will love the wild play areas, including a ‘Pump, Pool, and Paddle’ space. Or head to the home of everyone’s favourite pig at Paultons Park, where Peppa Pig World guarantees fun for tiny tots.
What to know before you go
- The venue is open to the public 24 hours a day, all year round so can be used sensibly between the hours of dusk and dawn.
- Dogs on leads are welcome.
- In terms of access, the site is reached by a footpath which can be uneven and muddy. Recent heavy rains have destabilised the path to a greater extent, so the paths around the amphitheatre are not advised for access guests or those with buggies.
- As the site of Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre is very minimal, there is no toilet, baby changing or refreshment facilities on site.
- For nearby food and drink, head to The Red Lion, The Iron Duke, or The Wellington Arms for reliable pub grub.
- The Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre are located between the M3 and M4 motorways on a minor road 1 mile east of Silchester.
- There’s no car park at the site, so if you’re planning to arrive by car, you should plan to park in a car park that’s managed by Hampshire County Council. Be aware that you will have to pay. The walls are only a few minutes walk from the car park, and the amphitheatre is a ten minute walk.
- The nearest train stations are either Bramley or Mortimer. Both are around 2.75 miles away from the site and are served by Great Western Railway. There are regular trains (at least twice hourly) from Reading Station to Mortimer: the journey is around 10 to 15 minutes. There are no taxi ranks at either station, so consider pre-booking a cab if you’re travelling to the ruins by train.
- To get to the Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre by bus, take the Stagecoach Hampshire bus number 14 to Silchester. It’s then a short walk to the ruins. Alternatively, Reading Transport service 2 or 2A travels to Mortimer. From there, it’s around a two mile walk, or you could book a taxi.
- Your family can also bike to the ruins, which are on the Sustrans National Route 23 from Reading. Note that this route is mainly on-road, and very few parts are traffic-free.
- Otherwise, you can walk to the ruins! Hampshire County Council provide an Exploring Silchester leaflet, or, from the Silchester Roman Town car park, take the footpath that starts by the information pillars and follow that walk to the Silchester Roman City Walls and Amphitheatre themselves.