My earliest guide to Silchester is the Short Guide to the Silchester Collection published by the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery (7th edition; 1927) [price 6d]. The text was by George E. Fox and was revised by Mill Stephenson.

The guide was illustrated with 12 black and white plates, and was intended to help the visitor to the museum around the collection. A foldout plan of the town appeared at the back.

The back cover gives a history of the guide with 1000 copies for the 1st to 6th editions (1903, 1905, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1920), and 2000 for the 7th edition.


The Reading Museum and Art Gallery continued to issue guidebooks to support the ‘Calleva Museum’ (formed in 1951). This guide (reprinted in 1979, but revised in 1972) was revised by George C. Boon. The cover uses Alan Sorrell’s 1975 reconstruction of ‘The Christian Church at Silchester with forum and basilica in background’. It contained a guide to ‘The Silchester Collection’ in Reading and a plan of the site. One new aspect was the section, ‘What to see and where to see it’.


A further guide appeared in 1987 with a text by Michael Fulford. This contains plans of the buildings and finds from recent excavations such as the amphitheatre. There are colour reconstructions including Sorrell’s aerial view of the town from the south-east. There is a spread on the ‘History of the Excavations’ and a single page on ‘Visiting the site’.

Author: David Gill

David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History and an Academic Associate in SISJAC at UEA; Professor of Archaeological Heritage.

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