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National Gazetteer (1868) - Silchester

"SILCHESTER, a parish in the lower half of Holdshott hundred, county Hants, 7 miles N.W. of Basingstoke, its post town, and 2½ W. of the Mortimer station, on the Great Western railway. The village, which is of small extent, is wholly agricultural. In the vicinity are traces of the fortified camp called by the Britons Caer Segont, and by the Romans Calleva Atrebatum, or Vindonum, having been one of the principal stations of the Romans in the S. of Britain. It was here that the younger Constantine assumed the purple in 407.

In 493 the fortifications were dismantled by Ella. The enclosed area is in the form of an irregular octagon, nearly 1½ mile in circumference. The site is now under cultivation, nevertheless the track of the streets are still to be traced, and on the S. side the walls are from 15 to 20 feet in height. About 150 yards from the N.E. angle of the walls is an amphitheatre on the outer side, now covered with trees; and about a mile to the N.W. is another camp, near the hamlet of Soak. There are also traces of the Portway to Salisbury, Grimsdyke to Winchester, and of the Devil's Causeway to Staines roads; another road led past the camps and tumuli on Mortimer Heath to Speen. In 1833 were discovered the walls of-the thermæ, or hot-baths, and coins, inscriptions, and other relics of Roman origin have since been discovered. Silchester gives title of baron to the family of Pakenham, Earls of Longford.

The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Winchester, value £308. The church is an ancient structure dedicated to St. Mary. The parochial charities produce about £15 per annum. There is a National school, principally supported by the Duke of Wellington, who is lord of the manor and principal landowner. The Primitive Methodists have a chapel here."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]