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the ancient Roman town of Calleva

Every year, a couple of hundred people in various combinations descend upon a tiny area just south of the M4 near Reading, and start digging in the hope of finding true treasure. And every year they do indeed find it. It's not always gold or even a precious metal, sometimes it's just an old pot lying at the very bottom of an ancient well, but to an archaeologist, it is another chapter of the true and untold story of the people who occupied Berkshire and its environs long before us. It is the ancient Roman town of Calleva, and the Iron Age community it, too, is built upon. This year, I went along to my first ever archaeological dig, and met the army of diggers, academics and enthusiasts who comprise the third occupation of Silchester - in the 21st century! Many of the archaeologists go year after year, building world class reputations and even falling in love! At least five marriages have resulted from the dig - and many, many more lifelong friendships! One archaeology student, studying at Reading University, proudly told me of his latest find - a Roman brooch, a piece of jewellery last worn almost two thousand years ago. Who wore it, stowed it away as a keepsake, or perhaps buried it for safety all those years ago, and then never went back to retrieve it? And why? We shall never know. But it was awesome to see the young student's delight at holding this precious piece of jewellery in his hand, knowing that he was the first to do so since its mysterious and unknown owner. The Silchester dig is part of our heritage, and therefore open to visitors, and I;d encourage anyone to get along there and have a look for themselves. It may not always look much - just a very large hole in the ground to the uninitiated, but it's treasure is in its human story as much as the "finds". If you want to see how I got on - just go to my BBC blog - that's www.bbc.co.uk/annediamond=
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