- Start: Recreation ground car park in Silchester, grid ref SU626621.
- End: Recreation ground car park in Silchester, grid ref SU626621.
- Country: England
- County: Hampshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Silchester – The Calleva Arms (0118 9700305)
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 159 or Landranger 175
- Difficulty: Medium
Steve Davison leads the way on this 4.5 mile walk exploring the former Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum in North Hampshire...
Start/finish: recreation ground
car park in Silchester;
grid ref SU626621
Map: OS Explorer 159
or Landranger 175
Distance: 4.5 miles (7.2km)
Terrain: fairly flat along tracks and paths which can be muddy, some stiles and gates, and sections of country road
Time: 2 hours without stops
The Calleva Arms (0118 9700305
1 (SU626621) From the car park turn left and right into Dukes Ride for 15m, then right along a narrow path, ignoring all crossing gravel drives and keeping to the right of the houses. On reaching a surfaced drive, turn right and shortly cross straight over Pamber Road.
Follow the road ahead and just before the houses on the left, turn left past a large gate. Follow the track straight ahead through Benyons Inclosure to reach a major cross tracks. Keep straight on downhill and, shortly before the stream, turn right along a gravel path. Fork left at the split to follow a path near to picturesque Kiln Pond.
2 (SU629632) Turn right along the track and then left at the junction, keeping to the track as it passes a house. Turn right along the road for 120m and at the footpath sign, cross over and go down through the trees. Keep straight on up a gentle rise, cross the stile and head across the field to another stile. Turn right along the track, cross straight over the lane to enter the car park can be used as an alternative starting point.
3 (SU635628) In the far right corner, turn right along an enclosed path, to the left are the remains of an Iron Age defensive ditch and bank. Turn right through a gate at the end of the enclosed path and shortly go left to reach the ruins of Calleva Atrebatum.
This was once an important town in Roman Britain, standing at the junction of a number of major routes leading to other former Roman towns such as Winchester, London, Dorchester and Salisbury. However, Calleva is almost unique in that it was later abandoned.
All that remains are the amphitheatre (see later) and the impressive defensive walls which reach a height of 4m in places and run for 1.5 miles. Excavations within the walls have shown that the town was laid out in a typical grid fashion, centred round the Forum and adjoining Basilica. Information boards sited around the walls give more insight about the former town.
Turn left through a kissing gate and follow the wall going in a clockwise direction, passing the North Gate on the way. The route is now following the recently opened Brenda Parker Way, a 78 mile route through the north Hampshire countryside between Aldershot and Andover, developed by the North Hampshire Downs Ramblers Group in memory of Brenda Parker. Just before the buildings at Manor Farm, turn left through a kissing gate, cross the footbridge and through a gate to join Wall Lane. Go right for 10m and then left through a kissing gate; diagonally over to the right are the remains of the Roman amphitheatre.
This was once a place of entertainment for the inhabitants of Calleva Atrebatum and was capable of accommodating around 4,000 spectators.
Leave the field by the kissing gate in the in the south corner and head south-west along the lane to reach the 12th century Church of St Mary the Virgin. The church, which is well worth a visit, stands just inside the former Roman town, some distance from the present village. Many original features survive including the typical Norman dog tooth ornamentation on the north door.
Inside there is a 14th century carved effigy of Eleanor Baynard and a Rood Screen from the time of Henry VIII, the screen shows both roses and pomegranates the twin symbols of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and is said to be one of the finest in Hampshire. More recent additions include the carved figure of Christ above the altar by the sculptor Peter Eugene Ball and the beautiful Carpe Diem window created by Jon Callan.
4 (SU643623) Continue along the lane for 200m with the wall on the right and as the lane bears left, keep straight on along the grassy strip beside the walls. Later passing the South Gate and eventually reaching a kissing gate. Turn left and go through a small gate, not the kissing gate on the left, to follow an enclosed path, part of the Brenda Parker Way again.
Keep ahead through a gate and along the gravel track past some houses. At the road cross diagonally left, ignoring the track opposite, and follow the path through the trees to join a road beside the War Memorial. To the left is the Calleva Arms and straight ahead is the car park.
To find out more about Steve visit: http://www.steve-davison.co.uk/
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