Silchester Collection: Excavation Photographs
The Museum's archive of over 600 photographs documents the early excavations at the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, near Silchester in Hampshire. These images record the excavations from the time of Revd J.G. Joyce, who worked on the site from 1864 to 1878, to the completion of the major work by the Society of Antiquaries, who uncovered the town between 1890 and 1909.
The photographs include fascinating images of the excavators in their day-to-day work, the directors led by George Fox, Mill Stephenson and William St John Hope, and the visiting dignitaries and specialists. The earliest, dating to about 1870, capture the Revd Joyce's workforce and excavations in the Forum and Basilica. Other pictures bring to life many aspects of this major Roman town and record in detail the uncovering of houses, mosaics and baths. Some of the objects now on display at the Museum appear as they were when first recovered.
The collection includes over 250 glass plate negatives and associated prints taken by the Reading photographer Sydney Victor White whose business was established in Reading in 1869. Victor White was working at an interesting period in the early development of photography, which coincided with the beginning of systematic archaeological excavations.