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NEWS EXTRA: Archaeologists from the University of Reading excavate Roman Baths at Silchester

More than a hundred students, professional archaeologists and volunteers are working on the project at the site of the Roman city on the Hampshire-Berkshire border.

Professor Michael Fulford from the University of Reading Archaeology Department is leading the excavation of the Bath House which he says is one of the oldest Roman buildings in Britain. 

He says the first trench has exposed the original front wall of the baths dating back to the mid-first century AD and fronted by a second wall that supported columns.

Professor Fulford says the columns use Limestone brought to Hampshire from Bath.

A second trench is examining the Eastern side of the baths includes a complete hypocaust heating system.

The team want to discover how and who was using the baths. At the moment Professor Fulford says they know very little about what was going on at the baths. He says there's evidence that women may have used the facilities, but so far they haven't found any evidence of the oils or drinks that they may have used and consumed. 

The diagram above shows where the trenches are in relation to the building. Professor Fulford says the dig has gone much better than expected and says it's "really impressive and great fun!" Finds include tiles with marks from both their makers and from passing animals.

Finds are removed to a 'production line' of cleaning, sorting and cataloguing:

There's already an impressive array of itms to be examined in more detail.

The site was last excavated more than a hundred years ago and although the Professor describes his predecessors work as "remarkable" he now has modern equipment including a drone to help him record the work. Below a marker helps the aerial survey plot out the site.

But some of the equipment isn't so hi-tech!

The excavation is being staffed by around 114 students, volunteers and professional archaeologists drafted in to run the dig. It's a big undertaking costing around £80,000. 

The hot weather has meant workers have adjusted their hours to start and finish earlier - the relentless heat means shade has been a necessity.

If you want to find out more there's an open day on July 14th between 10 & 4 and you can follow the dig on twitter @silchexcavation

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