Where had the people lived?
It is thought that the people buried in the cemeteries had lived in the nearby Roman village. The village, whose site is known today as Butterfield Down, was founded in the second century AD but was at its largest in the third and fourth centuries.
Houses and yards lined the trackways that met in the centre of the village. One of the tracks ran between the Roman county towns of Dorchester (Duronovaria) to the south-west and Silchester (Calleva Atrbatum) to the north-east. The rectangular houses were made of timber and probably had thatched roofs.
Most of the villagers will have been farmers and on the outskirts of the village were areas used for threshing and winnowing the crops of wheat and barley that they grew in small ‘Celtic’ fields. Small ovens were used to dry the crops before storage. The discovery of the bones of cattle and sheep show what types of meat were eaten and these were also the most common farm animals.
Votive shafts about 3m deep and sited at the edge of the village were used to communicate with the gods of the underworld. Offerings to the gods were placed in the shafts. Near the centre of the village there are traces of a building built of stone. It is possible that this building was a temple. A small metal model of a bird may have decorated the end of a priest’s sceptre.
A small hoard of Roman gold coins from the village dates to early in the fifth century AD is one of the latest coin hoards from Roman Britain.