TROWELS are at the ready for an annual dig that will uncover new information about an Iron Age settlement.

The annual Silchester dig on the site of Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, near Silchester, begins on Monday for six weeks, until August 9.

The dig is organised by the Field School at Reading University’s Department of Archaeology as a research and training excavation which this year will involve about 70 first year archaeology students and 200 other people learning the ropes of excavation.

The site is of a first century BC Roman town which sits on top of an Iron Age town from the first century AD.

Amanda Clarke, director of the Field School, said: “It’s exciting. We are finishing work on the Roman level and we have peeled our way back and are just beginning to see some of the Iron Age town’s streets and buildings – it’s one of the few excavations that allows us a good look at an Iron Age town.”

She added that the most exciting find last year was an Iron Age well at the bottom of which were four pots placed as ritual offerings.

Ms Clarke said: “This year, we are hoping to find out if Iron Age buildings had round houses, were they made of wood, what did they look like and what their town layout was. Were they planned, were there street grids?”

She added: “We get an enormous amount of information and it’s one of the biggest digs in the country at the moment.”

Coinciding with this year’s dig is the Festival of British Archaeology – to promote sites of archaeological and historical interest through events and activities – which runs between July 18 and August 2.

At Silchester this will include tours, displays of artefacts and scientific techniques and activities for younger visitors.

There are also two Saturday open days during the dig, on July 18 and August 1, on which attractions include tours, talks, displays, demonstrations, a gladiatorial display in the amphitheatre, and a series of lunchtime talks held at 1pm in St Mary’s Church, Church Lane, Silchester, on certain days.